Whilst Heather has been entertaining you these past couple of weeks, I have been on holiday in Rome! I think I must have been missing home because as I was looking out across the city from the top of Il Vittoriano (the big ‘wedding cake’ building that Mussolini used to do his speeches from), I saw a peregrine falcon. I thought I had heard one the evening before when walking past but I thought I must be imagining things. Rome is ideal for them really; millions of starlings come through the city every autumn on their migratory route to South Africa.
Now, having millions of starlings come through the city every year causes lots of waste. So normally the council hire people to go along to their evening roosts and play the sound of starlings screeching as if they were warning of a falcon attack. This usually sends them to roost elsewhere. However in the 2013 the council had not got themselves organised early enough, causing mayhem and a lot of unhappy Romans. Hilariously, because the starlings preferred diet when in the area is olives. Their poo becomes rather oily and this meant that people riding around on scooters kept skidding on the roads! I heard the screeching recordings whilst in Rome and had thought it sounded strange, as a wildlife lover and non-resident I would have loved to have seen murmurations over the city.
An interesting fact for you: In Roman times from 30 BC to 212 AD if you weren’t Roman but lived within the empire you were called a peregrinus. Peregrinus meant ‘foreigner’ or ‘one from abroad’. To break it down further per means ‘abroad’ and agri means ‘field/country’. Talking of peregrines, ours have been rather elusive lately so if you spot them let me know.
Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger