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Armchair Travel with Naturetrek
Armchair Travel with Naturetrek

Episode 1 · 1 year ago

Urban Peregrines: Taking the City by Storm, with Ed Drewitt

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Tour Leader, and author of the book 'Urban Peregrines' Ed Drewitt gives an exclusive insight into the lives, and conservation of, the world's fastest bird.

Okay, so I'm starting recording nowand yeah, I'll try and give this a go. So welcome to ournew series of Nature Trek podcasts, where we will bring wildlife to you inyour living room. And so frost, nature TREX marketing manager, normally basedin the head office, but this podcast is brought to you from my smalldiy home recording studio in Alton, just ten minutes away from the Nature Trekhead office. Joining us today is tour leader Ed drew it, coming toyou from the forest of Dean. Now, Ed, you've been leading for naturetrexsince two thousand and eight and in fact we co led together on myfirst ever nature trek tour, which I remember well. That was our spitspoken cruise right, and anyone I've ever spoken to our my tours that I'veled subsequently and who's also also traveled with you, has is always unfailing todescribe you as extremely enthusiastic and charismatic. And you've been a naturalist for overthirty years, with a particular interesting birds, haven't you? And it's right,and I know that this passion you have for communicating the windows of naturalhistory means that you're never far away from the media. You're regularly involved withbroadcasting on TV and radio, which ranges from appearances on the one show toSpring Watch or to watch radio for Natural History Radio and BBC Radio Bristol,just to name a few. And the donations that you've been taking nature trekgroups to since two thousand and eight include Madagascar, Canada, the Gambia,resours and Antarctica, and those more fantastic mouthwatering destinations in between. So mySolom islands and an tops. Of course I makes reason highlights. Yes,yeah, absolutely, I should have mentioned the Solomons. There's hundreds of questionsthat I'm really just bursting to ask you, but about all of those travels.But today we're just going to focus on learning all about something actually abit closer's at home, and this is your work with Peregrine Falcons. Soa lot of people be familiar with a Peregrine Falcon and what peagn falcons roughlylook like, I should say, but some particularly being they get out frontme my book here. Yeah, it's a nice picture of a peregrine.They're just flying there we go. Fantastic. Yeah, so people they're sort ofsee what what paragrine look like, would look like but for people whohaven't been able to take the time to simply properly identify that and or peoplewho might not feel confident to identifying them. How? How should people spot onewhen they're distinguishing and trying distinguish it, say, from a Sparrow Hawk ora hobby? So a peregrine, first of all is a big birdof prey. It's one of our fastest birds of praise. When it's flyinga level flight it's no faster than a pigeon, but actually when it's loopdiving down it's incredibly fast. But you don't tend to see that very often. What you do tend to see more is a peregrine perched on a cliffand more so these days, actually perched on a building, and I reckonthat. In places like Bristol, for example, you're actually more likely tosee a peregrine then you are, for example, a kestral or a buzzardor even a Sparrow Hawk and it the key thing, though, about aperegrine, Sarah, is that when they are big, so they kind ofcrow sized birds. They're not as big as a buzzard. They're more crowsized birds and when you see them flying, like the hobby that you mentioned,Kestral Merlin, they're part of the Falcon family, so they have thesevery long pointy wings and when peregrins tend to fly they have almost like asort of fluttery flight. They tend to have quite shallow wing beats as they'reflying along, but quite a big broad body, smallish head and a tailthat actually doesn't look as long as it wouldn't say something like a Kestrel.A KESTREL is smaller than a Peregon but it looks much longer tailed when it'sflying. They've also got things that are Sparrow Hawk. For example, ifyou see a sparrow hawk, instead of...

...a Sparrow Hawk having those long pointedwings of a peregrine, it has much broader, more rounded wings and whena Sparrow Hawk flies, unlike a Kestrel or a Peregon, it goes flapflap and glide, flap, flap and glide, whereas a peregrins always sortof flapping its wings in this kind of shallow, shallow way and what haveyou. M The other thing is that if you are an a town orcity. So if people are out and about at the moment on their sortof one walk a day, looking around baby an urban area where they live, or even rural areas as well, paragons love to perch their often avery upright bird perched against the cliff face or on a building and what haveyou. And if the weather's not particularly kind of great, often when it'swet as well, they'll often just sit there all day long until the weathergets a bit better for them. And so you're referring here quite often tourban peregrines really, and we do see them in towns and cities, insearging, certainly, that's where I've seen the majority of boards I've seen.But isn't their normal habitats? Cliffs are quarries, are rocky sea coasts.Why do we see them in towns and cities? Yeah, so, upuntil about the nine s or so you generally, as a rule, wouldhave seen peregrines maybe along the coastline around the UK, perhaps up in themountains of snowdown near and in Cumbria and Scotland. And since the s really, when peregrine numbers have been recovering from a whole variety of things, butin particular the effects of pesticides that were used in the countryside in the snine s. Once those were banned, peregrines started to come back to formerhaunts, for example along the coastlines, but they also started to come muchmore into into inland quarries and also into urban locations, and we're seeing thisnot just in Britain but all across Europe, the America's Australia places like that.So there's something something about about the fact that you know now they haven'tgot pressures of perhaps being shot and poisoned and all those sorts of things.There ain't they've been expanding and add into a whole variety of habitats. Sowherever you are in the country at the moment you've got a really good chanceof seeing a peregrine, whether in Moreland, coastlines, quarries and urban locations.We've got over seventeen hundred pairs of peregrinds in the UK and of whichclose to sort of two hundred pairs, and now in urban locations, somost big towns of cities, certainly in England, but also in parts ofwhales South Wales parts of Scotland have urban peregrines now in them. Wow,fantastic. I remember actually being out in winchester last summer with some nature trackoffice staff. We just went out for an evening meal as a member ofstaff was leaving and we were in a restaurant next to winchester cathedral and ourstaff are all very key naturalists and sharp spotters, so we saw on withpast the window of restaurant and go over to the cathedral on and they havea camera set up there so you can watch them live on the nest.Indeed, that's what many of the staff enjoyed doing for the rest of theevening meal, was streaming this live on their phones. So why? Whyare cathedrals, of all places, favorite nesting sites fot them? Is itsimply because they're good? It's a good point of elevations for surveying a territory? Or so a peregrines as it's a little bit like Urban Gulls, wherea lot of buildings in urban locations are flat, open roofs that the forgoals replicate islands basically, so less a bat back goals tend to sort ofrooster, example, a big floot open rus herring goals will often nest inchimneys which replicate the smaller cliffs that herring goals would use, say around theislands of schomer in Pembrokeshire. And so for peregons it's the same sort ofthing. When you look at what cathedrals and churches are made out of,they're made out of generally sandstone and limestone and those sort of replicate exactly thesame sort of cliff structures you get in quarries, which I guess to somedegree are man made in the sense that they've been carried out by people toproduce cliffs, but also they replicate perhaps the sort of coastline cliffs that you'dalso get. So I think peregrines are very much coming in land and andto them they don't really see a cathedral.

They see basically at all limestone orsandstone cliff which has all sorts of nooks and crannies just like a naturalsea cliff withou have, and so provides the perfect conditions and perfect places reallyfor peregons to perch and hide their prey. They case their prey away and andthings like that really and of course we're seeing more nesting now as well. And the great thing is that I started studying peregrines just over twenty yearsago and back then you had these kind of you know, you might rememberthese, these the sort of the web cameras where they updated every minute,or half a minute if you were lucky, and it was quite a grainy footage. And today many of these cameras that are on urban peregrines, includingwinchester, have much better quality cameras. They're streaming live, often on youtubeand but always. And the fabulous thing is that over the coming months actuallythere's a really great opportunity to really watch these birds from your living room oryour bedroom or wherever. And peregrines. At the moment we're kind of talkingright at the very end of Mark. So most peregrines are going down oneggs down and some of them are still laying, some of already got fullclutches. So throughout April they're going to be incubating, throughout may they're goingto be hatching and feeding those chicks. So wherever you are in the countryit's worth seeing if there are cameras on perhaps local peregrines. There's definitely camerason Exeter, likes winchester. We've got Wakefield and Sheffield and Nottingham. We'vegot someone London peregrines such as Saturn Mordern, for example. Where else? Tryingto think where else now, but you know there's quite a variety ofdifferent lemonton SPA in the Midlands. So there's a lots of different cameras outthere at moment following the peregrines and and giving us really the intimate chance tosee these birds up close but from our homes. Sounds fantastic. Maybe wecould include a link at the end of this podcast and for our listeners andearn our listeners can can click on that and it's definitely can find a videothat's closer to home for them. So you've touched on the the persecution thatperegrines suffered from a few years ago with pesticides and things, because they wereactually quite rarely across Britain. Weren't especially in the S. Yeah, sowhen the stuff a lot you to pesticides in the food chain and now theydo seem to be doing much better. Are they doing well all the crossBritain or is it just in cities are just in particular areas of Britain.So there's two things there, first of all. Yet if we just goback in time in the early nineteen hundreds, they were still not even recovering really. You know, they've been persecuted during the Victorian periods and before thenreally, so that they didn't eat. They were seen as vermin basically,so they were often shot and killed. Then you had taxidermy in the Victorianperiods and then TURC and World War. They were shot as part of theMinistry Air Defense to stop them from actually intercepting pigeons that were carrying important messages. So kindly, it wasn't until after insecticides that would being used in thecountryside. Identity was being used on cereals crops and it was realized that therewas a link between that spraying and declining populations of not just peregrins but alsoother birds of prey and animals like Otters, that it was banned. And thenit also coincided with peregrins becoming protected. So in we in the s wehad the wildlife and countryside act that protected all wildlife, including the Peregrins, and since then they've been doing probably better than they've ever done for hundredsof years, I would imagine. Yes, I see them now what's called aschedule one listed species of the country of the wildlife and countryside act.So what does that mean for their schedule? So the fact that peregrines are whatwe call schedule one license means that they, unlike a blackbird or ablue tiff, example, they have extra protection. So because they almost wentextinct in Britain and because they are still vulnerable to being persecuted and they're stillvulnerable there because they are a top Predator, they're still vulnerable to big changes,or even subtle changes sometimes that can...

...happen in the environment. So theyare alongside barn owls and bittens and other rarer rereading birds in Britain. They'reprotected on to what they call schedule one. So that means that whereas I couldgo up to a blackbird nest and maybe just check how many eggs orchicks there are as part of say, nest recording for the British chasipor mythology, I'm not allowed to go up to or climb down to a nest ofa peregrine unless I have a special license and that special license allows experience toperegrine researchers or people who want to record more about the the nesting behavior ofthe peregrines to go down what have you. So it gives them an extra layerof protection. That me just gives them a better chance of survival really. And so they've got that protection which is brilliant. But you ask thequestion about are they doing well everywhere? Well, the answer is no.So when the results of the last Peregrine survey which was done in when isit done now? So of eight years a goal. So the results ofthat showed actually that peregrine recovery is quite patchy. So they're doing well,well in southern England, they're doing very well in urban locations, but alongparts of the coastline, for example along Devon and Cornwall and parts of Wales, and as you move into northern England and Scotland, there are actually declinesin peregrines. And at the moments it's put down as a brilliant paper byWilson Hotel a couple of years ago, now, was it last year?It came out two years ago I think, and it was all about the factthat it's thought to be to to habitats not, you know, thehabitat not being as good qualities it used to be. Pray, species decliningsof things that Skylark, metapipit lapwing golden plover being in a lesser abundance really, and also the fact that there's still a legal persecution on sort of openmoorland and very, very open areas, where as less people around to seethat legal behavior going on. So there's a real dichotomy of peregrines in thatthey are doing very well in many parts of of the UK but in manyremote and coastal and upland are as a Britain they're not. They're not doingso well. So it's certain I think it's always a sort of message reallyof not being complacent. It's always about seeing that bigger picture and celebrating theurban peregrine, for example, but also just being aware of that bigger picture. Okay, and has the spread of you mentioned but in some kites earlier? Has the spread of common buzzards and Red Kites had an effect on themand and their distribution or there's no, there's no evidence of that yet.I mean I sometimes meet people who are worried that, you know, theabundance of Red Kites, for example, where they might be saying Oxford cheeror somewhere like that, or will she you know, they're worried about thata conflict between them, but there isn't evidence of that. Red Kites andbuzzards are both scavengers. They in their own right have their own sort ofniches that shouldn't really sort of overlap. Paragons are, the other hand,are Fast Aerial Predator catching live prey. So there's no evidence really that thereis a conflict or a problem at all between the increase in red kites andbuzzards. And indeed, when you look at where these decreases in the peregrineis happening, it's happening in places where perhaps actually there's also very much lowerdensities of buzzards and red kites. Anyway, right, okay, and with we'retouching on webcams earlier and with the webcams on open Peregrins, and dowe know what they're currently up to? I mean, obviously right now they'regoing to be sitting on eggs, as you as you touched on, andthen what's that sort of process through the year? When? When will theireggs hatching? How long do the the chicks stay with them? When willthey fledge and where will they go? Can these cameras reveal yeah, informationlike this? So one thing that's really interesting is that thirty years ago peregonsgenerally laid eggs towards the end, right...

...towards the end of March and earlyApril, and what we're seeing with particular with urban dwelling Peregrines, as thatthey're laying eggs now as early as the end of the first week of Marchinto mid April, which is really quite remarkable. There is a range,of course, and so there are still some peregons like, I think,the leads Peregrines, have only just laid their first egg. So there isstill a range, but amazingly peregrines are certainly appearing to be laying earlier,and I think that has been backed up also by the British trust for anathology looking at some of that the laying date numbers really and that and that'sin line with other birds like great tits as well, which are laying earlierand earlier. With that I guess are warming springs and warming climate. SoApril would be a month really of incubation and those eggs are incubated for overthirty days really, bound sort of thirty five days, maybe more, andthen they'll be hatching early May. And the chicks grow very quickly. Actually. An egg of a peregrine is a little bit smaller than a chicken eggreally, perhaps more sort of Bantam size or a little bit bigger than abandon egg size, but not as big as a chicken egg. And sowhen those chicks hatch they take well, it's a good sort of six weeksor more in the nest really. So the first two weeks they've got theirfirst coat of down and they can still be quite vulnerable to the cold andwet weather. So if it's wet or cold outside, you'll still see mumor dad covering them over ready to keep them warm and dry and also shelteredfrom very hot sunshine. And then they develop a second coat of down,a thicker coat of down, in mid middround, sort of mid may time, and from then onwards really you start to see on the web cameras they'redarker feathers starting to grow through the fluff basically, and then as we getinto sort of early to mid June, they start getting to the point wherethey'll start perhaps fledging or exploring the nest a bit more. Depends what thenest box is, as the next box is actually on a flat open roof. They'll go wandering and if there is not very much beneath the nest Idrop below then they may, hopefully, if there's not too many chicks inthis, hang on until they're kind of first flight around, and that's whenthey're at their most vulnerable really. They often do end up grounded, andso peregrine champion groups or perhaps individuals that watch the birds often have to thengo and rescue them and get them up to a higher level so that they'reaway from cars and people and things like that behind it. It must bea very daunting prospect if you're a newly well not just about to fledge,if you're a young chick and you're thinking about taking your first flight standing atthe very top of a cathedral or wondering you know the only way is down. If you get it wrong, and sometimes very often they do get itwrong. I've got it. You know it's. For me it's a realcelebration that programs are in urban locations as and now me to do a lotof research about them and what they eat and all sorts of things like thatwhere they disperse. But I think that the most worrying time is always that, that time when they're just fledging and, like you say, often they doget it wrong and end up on the ground and of course, youknow, if that's on the coast and they end up in the sea,they're very good at swimming back to the beach. If they're in a quarry, then as long as there's no foxes around that again they can just siton the ground and, you know, gradually get themselves back into the air. But in an urban location we've got lots of cars and people and obstacles. It's a much more challenging environment actually for an urban peregrine. So that'swhen they're most vulnerable, just when they're fledging in urban locations. After thatkind of initial fledging period, though, they hone those hunting skills, momand dad bringing live prey which they kind of release for the chicks to BenChase after and catch themselves and then as you get in July and August time, those young birds start to disperse, they start exploring their local area andbut the time you get to September October time, often they may not bearound. They might be, but often they are then dispersing and explore inthe countryside and they may still come back...

...throughout the winter and the springtime andoccasionally we're seeing now just a single sibling sometimes being allowed back to help momand dad real the following year's chicks that we see in that happen more often. Well, yeah, that's extraordinary. So they presumably going in after us. Ever, it's our own territory that and is it's a nearby territory ordo they, you know, fly from miles at yeah, because so that'sa really good kind of link actually for me to show. So what wedo is when the chicks are about three weeks old, we put these littlecolor rings on their legs. It's wonder license that I mentioned earlier. Weput these colorings on the legs. We work with the British Mountaineering Council togo down to the nests and so we can follow the birds and see wherethey go. We also have to put on a metal ring as well.So this metal ring, which was the white way around, metal rings puton. We have to do that for the British as an authology, sothat bird that ring will stay on the bird until perhaps it's found dead orsomething. And the color ring is in an additional ring that we put onto be able to identify the birds from a distance. And so out ofover a hundred and forty peregrins that we've ringed, for example around the Bristoland bath and Devin area, we've heard back from about fifty of those birds, and often in their first year or two. And what we find reallyis that the male peregoms don't tend to move very far. So in bath, for example, there's a male who hasn't moved at all. He washatched in bath in the about two thousand and seven and he's still they're nowthirteen years later, as the breeding mail. So he's an extreme example of notgoing anywhere. But many male birds move a bit further, maybe twentythirty miles or so, sometimes further, sometimes a hundred miles. And whatwe're finding is that female peregrines move much, much further. So they might bemoving sixty, seventy, eighty over a hundred miles away. So wehad one one chick that was fledged in Exeter, for example, in Devon, and that one was found in Halifax in Yorkshire. We have a femalethat was hatched in bath and she headed over to knowledge and she's now thebreeding female in Norwich. After she chased off the breeding female, she unfortunatelykilled actually a few of the chicks from that particular breeding year and then tookover as the breeding female the following year. So the color ringing really gives usa chance to find out, you know, what these birds are upto. So we know that in the West country, for example, alot of young peregrines are dispersing a kind of a northeast direction. They're headinginto more sort of emptier vacant parts of the country where peregrins are living ina much lower density right and there's that. That's presumably because they've got more foodavailability for them, less competition. Yeah, I think so. Wellit so males don't tend to move too far, as I say, andI think that's that's a mechanism to stop in breeding going on. So thefemales will always move further than the males, so that they're seeking genetically different males, basically. But also, I think what's going on is that theeast of the country, in the northeast of Britain, have up until veryrecently have had much bigger gaps. So when peregrins started to recover from theeffects of pesticides and persecution in the S, I think there was a stronger populationof peregrines already in the west of Britain. Basically, so these birdshave just taken time to gradually move and so there's still kind of vacant areasin the northeast and east of the country. The female birds are looking for males. So the males are the ones that hold territory and it's the femalesthat do the choosings. The females are going around the countryside, all townsof cities looking for males. And what we're seeing happening now, particularly perhapsmore in southern England and the Midlands, is that there's quite a high densityof peregrins and non breeding birds called floaters.

So often where there's a pair ofperegrines that are nesting in the shadows on the outskirts, there are oftennon breeding male male or females that are hoping for a chance, and sothey might sometimes move in and try fighting with the breeding pair or one ofthe breeding pair to try and muscle their way in. Basically, so we'restarting to see much, much more, much greater social interactions now between peregonsbecause there's basically more competition for space and for nesting locations. Of course.Yeah. And are they staying in their newly established territories year round? So, and I mean new peregrines, my great do they have strongholds in theUK and stay here all you around? Of Yeah. So the PA,the peregrines Latin name is Folco Peregrynis, which means the wonder, and thatrelates to its lifestyle in northern Europe, for example, and North America,where it's highly migratory. So peregons that breed in Alaska will winter in,say, Peru and Chili, and peregons that breed in very northern Siberia willwinter in a rat for example, in India. But in Britain, becausewe are because we're at we have a very warm, moist climate in thewinter, parrogons don't have any need to. My great so in the mountains inScotland they might come down to lower areas, for example, but generallywe just see a much more natural dispersal. We don't see a migratory pattern,we just see them perhaps dispersing. So yeah, you basically peregons generallyhang around their territories. If you've got a pair of Peregons, the thelike is that that male of female will hang around throughout the winter. Wedo have one exception to that, though. In that June last year, soJune two thousand and nineteen, we had some chicks ringed by one ofmy fellow ringers, Luke Sutton, in Taunton in Somerset, and unbelievably oneof the chicks would discovered in November. So it's July. Our stept up. No, so five months later in Morocco. Wow, and but thatis incredibly unusual. That is incredibly unusual. That was the first record of aBritish peregrine going to mainland North Africa. Up Un to that point there hadbeen a peregrine had gone from Britain to the Canary Islands, but this, this bird from Taunton, was the first peregrine to actually go to NorthAfrica from Britain. So very unusual. But generally they are. They're verymuch local, local birds, but they will switch around territories. So intheir lifetime a female peregrine might have three or four different partners and a maleperegrine might have two or three different partners and they won't always stay in thesame nesting location. So a female peregrine, for example, might nest in onelocation for a year or two with them or more, maybe up toten years, maybe we wanted two different partners, and then she might changeher nesting location and go and breede with a different male somewhere else. Sooften when we talk about our peregrins or a particular town or cities Peregrines,we're not always talking about the same individuals and people that watch them often cantell whether there's a new male or female in town, even if they're UNrings. They can often tell by maybe differences in their plumage patterns or thingslike that. Hmm Wow, it's fascinating. I remember watching a pair of Peregrinswhen I lived up in Scotland. US to live up there and workas a wildlife guide and most years, as you just said, they wouldmove further south a little bit resuspected for for the winter. And there's oneyear where they decided to stay and I do remember looking at them and watchingthem one particularly cold, Wet, windy, soggy morning and they both looked verymuch like they regretted their decision to stay. would be like owls andother birds, but they don't like the wet very much. They just standthere and get boggy. Yeah, they were looking very sorry for themselves andsort of female was looking to the male and sort of to say whose ideawas this? That kind of thing.

And Yeah, but they were wonderfulto watch. And you've been studying their their diets in urban locations for twentyyears or so, haven't you? And you have, and what have youdiscovered with with what they're eating? Everyone always assumes, so it's pigeons,it's pigeons, it's pigeons, but can you tell us more about it?So you're right, a lot of people just assume the prerogns eat pigeons andthey certainly do eat a lot of fairl feral pigeons in particular, sometimes calleda dove stock doves will pitches with Jenny feral pigeons and also, of that, sometimes racing pigeons as well. But what I've discovered from looking at whatthey eat and urban locations is that actually half to maybe two thirds of theDiet is pigeons and the rest, the remaining diet, is are other birds. And that's really interesting and important to know because if we are wanting toknow more about why parrogns are not doing so well in certain parts of Britainor perhaps why they might be vulnerable in certain places, they're actually knowing whatthey're eating, which is a crucial part of their ECOLOGIES, isn't you know? It's a really important think we just assume that all they it is pigeons, then we could be missing an important queue of maybe why they're they're decliningin certain places, which is why I situ earlier on that. For example, you know in parts to northern and Scotland we think that some of thisdecline is to do with declining pray species that are not pigeon, things likeGolden Plover, lapwing or what have you. So in urban locations I can showyou some some so a lot of my diet work has been looking atfeathers, wings, skulls that peregons are basically plucked or snipped off, andthat's what we find. So it grew someome. But, for example,here is the wing of a black tailed Godwit, and peregrines will sometimes eatthese in urban locations, and so what we think is going on is thatperegons are hunting, for example, pigeons during the daytime, but then atnighttime birds like black tailed godwits. And I've got here, for example,the skull of a little grebe. And what we know that they are doing, now we've got confirmation of this from webcameras picking them up at night,is they're actually hunting at night. So during the daytime pererogons are stoop huntingbirds like pigeons, and then at night time they're sitting in the shadows ofa church looking for birds that are catching the light of the street lamps,and these birds are migrating over at night like little greebs and what have you, and the peregons are then going out and snatching those birds and bringing themback. So the of pray work that I've done with other people in acrossthe UK as well it dicks him in Devon and other people up anick Brown, up in Darby, for example. By looking at web camera footage andpray for which, just like this, we've been able to actually show thatperegrins are hunting both during the day and night. Here's a fabulous godwits skull, for example. He's in long beat. There you find legs. This isthe leg of a jackdor for example. And well, where do you findthese? You finding them around the nest. Yeah, so they're goingabout on streets. So these feathers, for example, from a Wimbrel,which is like a small but cousin of the curly. And when the peregrinesare up in the church or a cathedral, they are plucking the prey. Sothese are feathers, for example, from a redshank. And so whenthey're plucking those feathers, they fall to the ground and we can find thoseon the ground below. And then when the peregrines of actually fledgeday young andthe nest isn't under protection any longer, we can also go up to thoseroofs and and nesting locations and actually find some of these pray remains as well. And it's pretty remarkable that we got a snipe as a snipe skull thereas well. But covering really is that the pair urban dwelling peregrine, certainlyacross the UK, feed on a whole variety of prey, over a hundreddifferent species really, and there is a commonality when you start looking at thefact that they are eating things like that wings till dark golden plovers and thingswhole variety of different wading birds like the...

...godwits and Red Shank I just showedyou. Is a common prey item. And small birds are often harder tofind because they have smaller, lighter feathers a blow away more easily. Butagain we can find those and also with the help of Webcameras we're seeing peregrinesnow bringing back things like chaffinches and goldfinches and and logging those kind of smallerbirds that, just with pray remains, are much harder to find, ofcourse. And today, and we're going to say pellets, as some ofthe birds birds are pay do yeah, and do you go through these andnot? I don't find them quite as helpful for finding out about their diet. If you're studying the Diet, for example, of a Tawny Hour orbarn out. It'd be full of skulls and bones of what they've been eating. But in the peregrine they just tend to be a massive of often thesmaller, fluffier feathers, often of pigeons. They do sometimes contain skulls and bonesand sometimes they'll contain more striking feathers like, for example, of awater rail stripe, you side feathers of a water rail or the stripy feathersof a till, for example. But the pellets aren't always as useful.What is useful as finding the actual kind of physical remains, the wings,the skulls and legs, all those sorts of things. And up until recentlyreally a lot of my work has been, as I say, with Nick Dixonin Devon and Nick Brown and Nick Moise up in in Darby. Butwhat I'm doing now really is tapping into lots of different people across the countrywho are monitoring urban locations and so, as part of a parttime PhD thisautumn I want to actually start looking at the prey of peregrines from over ninetylocations in Britain so that I can actually build up a much better idea andbuild up a much better generalization, I guess, of what urban peregrines arereally eating really, because up until now it's been just three or four,maybe five locations, which you know, isn't as representative of the whole ofthe UK as it could be. So by getting pray remains from across ninetydifferent locations, almost a hundred locations, now we can hopefully really build upa good picture of what what's making urban peregrines tick and also, but HAP, perhaps look at why they are doing so well in urban locations compared tomaybe some of their rural counterparts. Wow, that sounds fascinating. And and what'sjust going back to the prey that we were talking about a second ago, what's the largest prey item and that has been recorded that you know ofthe yeah, that's a good question. So in in an urban location thelargest prey you tend to find are things that would pigeon and till duck,and I think that's simply because anything larger than that is too heavy to flyback to a church or a building. So you have to you have tolook out at more rural locations like wetlands for example. And so when youstart looking at a wetland where there's lots of ducks and water birds and thingslike that, then peregrine are capable of bringing down birds like little grits andthey have been known to bring down things like gray leg geese, Brent geeseand even gray herons. I've not known those in recent times, but inrecent times I do know of birds such as, as say, little gritsand and things like widgeon duck are taken much, much more frequently in arural location such as a wetland, but I think they're just a little bittoo heavy sometimes for a peregrine to bring back to an urban location. Soquite big. What I think is even more fascinating, though, is howa peregrine can actually catch some of the smaller birds. So from time totime we do record things like wrens and gold crests and small birds like Siskinsin the Diet. So they're quite capable, like a Sparro Walk Really, ofcatching very, very small birds as well. Wow, I find thatabsolutely phenomenal to see that. The image in my mind right now of apair agine trying to wrestle with the goose. I knows it's quite remarkable. Thatanother interesting but of behaviors little groups. I showed you here's my little greepskull just here. So they're eat...

...little greeves and we know that theywill catch those at night. But I do know, and I've seen somefootage of this, where peregrines will also wait for little greeves to come upfrom a dive and then try and grab them off the water. So theyhave two techniques for catching little grieves. They catch them on migration at night, but they'll also get them off the water as well, which, whenyou think about it, then they don't hover quite like a castle does,but to be able to maneuver over the water and hover to a degree tobe able to capture water bird, I think it's pretty impressive really. Yeah, absolutely wow. And and you've touched on this slightly already, but what'snext for peregrines? Do you think what's next for peregons? Well, Ithink in urban locations it's it's more of them really. I think that we'regoing to see much more habitation, you know, them taking up more urbanlocations across across the UK really. So if a town or city doesn't havethem yet, then I think that over the next sort of fight, fiveyears even. Were not even ten years, but over the next five years theywill. They will start to see them appearing, not necessarily nesting,because quite often on urban locations they need a helping hand. Sometimes they needa nest box or something like that and otherwise their net, their eggs oftenjust rolled into the gutters. So sometimes they do need a helping hand ifperhaps local groups or local wildlife people feel it's fit. And sometimes putting upa nest box on a urban location isn't always the most appropriate thing to do. It depends on perhaps the local community and whether there might be conflicts withhaving paragons nesting in other location, with racing pigeon fans, for example.So a s box isn't always the solution, but can be the solution. Ithink that we also need to be thinking more about, or monitoring really, I guess, what's going on with rural Peregon's really so I think whatnext is that we're going to see, hopefully, an increase in peregons usingour urban locations, but I think with continually continuing declines in woodland birds andfarmland birds and more than birds, for example, we need to be weneed our finger on the pulse really with keeping an eye on what's going withsome of our rural and more rural, Moreland and coastal peregons, really tomake sure that we understand what's going on and why, and that's why Ithink knowing about the diets important. Other obviously my work is much more onthe urban Peregon, but you know, if we can understand what's making theurban peregon tick, we can maybe trying to understand why the rural paragons notdoing so well, and they have been studied in greater detail. Their Diethas been studied in great detail over the last sort of ten, twenty,thirty years also. So there are comparisons that that can be made. Ithink. Also with technology, I think there's just greater access for people enjoyingthese birds more so than you know, even though many of us might seeSparrow Hawks in their local park or our garden, I think there's peregons aremuch more predictable birds. So there's much greater engagement of people watching these birdson web cameras or being able to go into town and actually see them ona building and really enjoy watching these birds and, in addition to watching hisbirds online, are going out into towns and looking for them. Well,really, how can I listens increase their chances of actually spotting one during thecoming weeks, particularly during the these weeks of isolation and self quarantine? Selfisovation, I should say, and in quarantine. How can people increase theirchances of actually spotting one? Yeah, really good question. Would you know? It's about just keeping your eyes and ear is peeled overhead. So whenI was going for a walk in the forest of deem, just very closeto my house, last week, I saw a peregone on two occasions andit was simply by looking up being aware of what was going overhead. Therewas the odd buzzard going overhead, there was the odd goal going overhead andthen one of those birds happened to be a peregrine. So it's about justkeeping your eyes and heels peered as as I mentioned earlier on, if you'rein somewhere like a city like bristol or bath or Nottingham, it's about justbeing aware of what's around and overhead. And in many cities now, asI mentioned earlier on, you are more...

...likely to see a peregone than youare a Spou Hawk or a chestral buzzard. So it's just looking up, lookingaround, particular on a good clear, sunny day, perhaps when there's abit of a breeze, because birds of prey love having a bit ofwind and breeze around them or have you, and looking, as I say,for a bird of prey. There's long pointy wings, this kind ofshallow wing beat, flying quite bulky breasts. And if you go on to awebsite like the rspbs or, for example, as webcots called Zeno Canto, which is xno Canto, see Anteo do org. It's got a wholeaudio encyclopedia of birds and if you look up the peregrine, you'll be ableto listen to the cause of the peregrine, and that's another really good thing.If you get familiar with the call of the peregrine, it's again soundthat you might hear look up and suddenly have a peregrine flying overhead. Wow, magical, I know, I'll say asally be keeping an eye out andan ear out when I'm next going on my walks on my lunch break orthe coming few weeks. Ed, I feel like I've been by your sidewith my binoculars while learning from you. It's been absolutely fantastic because I'm outto you and thank you so much for that insight into the world's fastest abird. For listeners at home, we hope you've enjoyed listening to this podcastand it we've brightened your day somewhat. If you're keen to learn more aboutopen peregrine, so you can buy Ed's book called Urban Peregrine, which issold by Pelagic publishing, which you can see on the screen now if you'rewatching the the Webinar and Ed, we hope to it to touch pace withyou again soon. Yeah, Ively, thanks Sarah and Kank so much forjoining us. Thank you. Okay, and then I can start the recordingthere, edge, you're fantastic. Thank you. I like that. Idon't know, actually, I think we've been going for like probably forty minutes, I guess. Actually, yeah, I'll I might re record that questionthat I am that I phrased wrongly with quarantine, but I can just recordthat snippet and then slip it in before you answer, so that'd be fine. Yeah, but yeah, that's that's so fantastic. Thanks said, Ihope that the soul works properly. I've now got to soul stop this recording. And then I think the bit, the bit at the beginning, andI thought we ended up being quite natural, you know, because we you hadlived a bit, we have lived a bit, so I think itwas all right in the end. Yeah, I think, I think that wasokay. Actually to worry about there. Yeah, I think you got you'llslip it up a bit now. Get it down to half an hour, will you, or just leave it is is. I'll see how longit is, because I quite liked it really. There was no waffle thatI want to cut out. So I'll see. I'll see how long itis and in terms of a link or something. So yeah, I meanobviously there's quite a variety of different webcams out there. To you now andjust let you know some of them. M Yeah, that'd be brilliant.Yeah, you can. Yeah, that'd be great. The great thing withthis is it records the video and audio together and then it gives you aseparate audio file as well. If we want to do this as a podcast, which we can kind of upload and I was sort of when you wereshowing things to the screen, I was kind of making sure if you weregoing to describe something, I was going to prompt you to ask you todescribe it for people who weren't able to watch. Actually, it was fineif anyone was doing a just an audio based thing. And so, yeah, no good problems. Right. Yeah, it's so nice to to twitch basewith you. And Yeah, absolutely a bit of normality. Tell meabout it. Tell me about it and find me an invoice for it,and I'll well, none of us in the off this, but I'll signit off email and just with zimmy capturing can still, yeah, put out. Yeah, they'll dont payments, everything like that. So, yeah,it's all right. Yeah, what's looking to chat to you and, asI tell you, yeah, no, no problem. Yeah, you weremy first my first thought. So, have you had that for anyone else? got a you a boat from chairs and Tim Melling, Sophie the Gilnot sure signing who I thought I might...

...be speaking to today, but she'snot go back to me yet, but she did say that she was interestedand would love to chat to me. She's got reject called more than weedswhich is something about appreciating what people think of as weeds. Io. Yeah, and Simon Tongin. Yeah, that's it, great so far. Yeah, so, yeah, it should be enough to kind of get a few, a few outs, and it'd be nice just to be able to putthese out on an email or social media and kind of just for happy birthday, for Saturday, by the way. Else will you had your yeah,it's bit bit weird. Yeah, it was fine. Yeah, it wasall. So thanks a lot. Ed will then where the best best wishesto you and Lisen's little freddy and things all right. Instead, yeah,I'll let you know when I've got this. Fine lives, I'll send you alink. Lovely. Thank you all right. Thanks said.

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