The peregrine watch has been officially closed for a over a week now, however with my end as Peregrine Ranger at Falls of Clyde quickly approaching (tomorrow is my last day) and after an unsuccessful breeding season, Ive struggled to find some much needed closure.
So I called in reinforcements, after an anxious 30 minutes of rope watching, George Smith of East Lothian Raptor study group re-appeared back over the gorge face, he was not empty handed. I was hoping for a intact peregrine egg that could be sent away for analysis and hopefully get some answers. Instead George returned with 2 peregrine feathers, 2 racing pigeon rings (1 in pink and 1 in green) and 2 of the tiny pieces of peregrine egg shell you could sensibly identify with the naked eye to be that of a peregrine.
The egg was not complete and this was all that was left. I knew there was always the possibility the adults had eaten or kicked out the egg or even more concerning thought, that the egg had in fact hatched but the chick had been too weak to live.
George had another theory. If the egg had been abandoned and left unhatched there is a chance that gases had build up inside the shell and in this glorious sunshine the egg had in fact…wait for it…exploded! Making it all the more impressive he managed to recover 2 perfectly pigmented pieces of seemingly would have appeared to be healthy peregrine egg shell. We can only keep wondering.
Although I haven’t been able to shed any light on the peregrine egg puzzle I can tie up a few loose ends before I go. Regular readers may recall there was a suspected dead juvenile peregrine found on the reserve at the start of the season, after causing a right ruffle of feathers at the BTO (the people who put shiny rings on birds), it turns out that our young peregrine was in fact a very well decomposed common buzzard, from of all places Cumbria. Although I’m not going to name and shame the person who misidentified the beast, the irony is not lost on me that they are in fact (4 times I know) also from the idyllic county of Cumbria. Quite usual a bird flying north for the winter.
Id like to end on some good news and George did bring me some very goods news indeed. Not only did most of the other peregrine in the area have a very good season, a bumper year if fact (5 now) with lots of groups of 4 eyasses successfully fledgling he also had a new breeding falcon to study. This bird was extra special as George had seen her before, some 6 years ago when she was a 21 days old eyasses at, none other than, the Falls of Clyde. Females reach sexual maturity at around 3 to 4 years, with the bird now in her 6th year it is unknown whether she had been breeding somewhere unchecked previously or had been hanging around waiting to secure a good male and territory to call her own until now. She successfully raised 1 eyasses to fledgling this year.
Interestingly she is the 3rd bird from the Falls of Clyde pair which has been recorded reaching breeding age and raising young of their own. Even more interestingly, although I cant tell you exactly where the nest is, she like the other 2 (1 male, 1 female) has set up residence in the Moffat area of Dumfries and Galloway. Which is near were I live, and about to fly back too.
I hope you enjoyed reading the blog as much as Ive enjoyed writing it for you. Thank you for all your encouraging and interesting comments and especially to those readers who made the trip up the peregrine site to tell me how much they enjoyed or more often to see and ask “what happened next?”. You know who you all are, it meant a lot to me.
Fingers and talons crossed for next year.
Peregrine Ranger -Adam Murphy