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Armchair Travel with Naturetrek
Armchair Travel with Naturetrek

Episode 1 · 2 years 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 now and yeah, I'll try and give this a go. So welcome to our new series of Nature Trek podcasts, where we will bring wildlife to you in your living room. And so frost, nature TREX marketing manager, normally based in the head office, but this podcast is brought to you from my small diy home recording studio in Alton, just ten minutes away from the Nature Trek head office. Joining us today is tour leader Ed drew it, coming to you from the forest of Dean. Now, Ed, you've been leading for naturetrex since two thousand and eight and in fact we co led together on my first ever nature trek tour, which I remember well. That was our spit spoken cruise right, and anyone I've ever spoken to our my tours that I've led subsequently and who's also also traveled with you, has is always unfailing to describe you as extremely enthusiastic and charismatic. And you've been a naturalist for over thirty 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 natural history means that you're never far away from the media. You're regularly involved with broadcasting on TV and radio, which ranges from appearances on the one show to Spring 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 trek groups to since two thousand and eight include Madagascar, Canada, the Gambia, resours and Antarctica, and those more fantastic mouthwatering destinations in between. So my Solom islands and an tops. Of course I makes reason highlights. Yes, yeah, absolutely, I should have mentioned the Solomons. There's hundreds of questions that 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 a bit closer's at home, and this is your work with Peregrine Falcons. So a lot of people be familiar with a Peregrine Falcon and what peagn falcons roughly look like, I should say, but some particularly being they get out front me 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 of see what what paragrine look like, would look like but for people who haven't been able to take the time to simply properly identify that and or people who might not feel confident to identifying them. How? How should people spot one when they're distinguishing and trying distinguish it, say, from a Sparrow Hawk or a hobby? So a peregrine, first of all is a big bird of prey. It's one of our fastest birds of praise. When it's flying a level flight it's no faster than a pigeon, but actually when it's loop diving 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 cliff and more so these days, actually perched on a building, and I reckon that. In places like Bristol, for example, you're actually more likely to see a peregrine then you are, for example, a kestral or a buzzard or even a Sparrow Hawk and it the key thing, though, about a peregrine, Sarah, is that when they are big, so they kind of crow sized birds. They're not as big as a buzzard. They're more crow sized 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 these very long pointy wings and when peregrins tend to fly they have almost like a sort of fluttery flight. They tend to have quite shallow wing beats as they're flying along, but quite a big broad body, smallish head and a tail that 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's flying. They've also got things that are Sparrow Hawk. For example, if you see a sparrow hawk, instead of...

...a Sparrow Hawk having those long pointed wings of a peregrine, it has much broader, more rounded wings and when a Sparrow Hawk flies, unlike a Kestrel or a Peregon, it goes flap flap and glide, flap, flap and glide, whereas a peregrins always sort of flapping its wings in this kind of shallow, shallow way and what have you. M The other thing is that if you are an a town or city. So if people are out and about at the moment on their sort of 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 a very upright bird perched against the cliff face or on a building and what have you. And if the weather's not particularly kind of great, often when it's wet as well, they'll often just sit there all day long until the weather gets a bit better for them. And so you're referring here quite often to urban peregrines really, and we do see them in towns and cities, in searging, 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, up until about the nine s or so you generally, as a rule, would have seen peregrines maybe along the coastline around the UK, perhaps up in the mountains 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, but in particular the effects of pesticides that were used in the countryside in the s nine s. Once those were banned, peregrines started to come back to former haunts, for example along the coastlines, but they also started to come much more into into inland quarries and also into urban locations, and we're seeing this not 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't got 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. So wherever you are in the country at the moment you've got a really good chance of 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 which close to sort of two hundred pairs, and now in urban locations, so most big towns of cities, certainly in England, but also in parts of whales 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 track office staff. We just went out for an evening meal as a member of staff was leaving and we were in a restaurant next to winchester cathedral and our staff are all very key naturalists and sharp spotters, so we saw on with past the window of restaurant and go over to the cathedral on and they have a 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 the evening meal, was streaming this live on their phones. So why? Why are cathedrals, of all places, favorite nesting sites fot them? Is it simply 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, where a lot of buildings in urban locations are flat, open roofs that the for goals replicate islands basically, so less a bat back goals tend to sort of rooster, example, a big floot open rus herring goals will often nest in chimneys which replicate the smaller cliffs that herring goals would use, say around the islands of schomer in Pembrokeshire. And so for peregons it's the same sort of thing. 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 the same sort of cliff structures you get in quarries, which I guess to some degree are man made in the sense that they've been carried out by people to produce cliffs, but also they replicate perhaps the sort of coastline cliffs that you'd also get. So I think peregrines are very much coming in land and and to them they don't really see a cathedral.

They see basically at all limestone or sandstone cliff which has all sorts of nooks and crannies just like a natural sea cliff withou have, and so provides the perfect conditions and perfect places really for peregons to perch and hide their prey. They case their prey away and and things 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 years ago and back then you had these kind of you know, you might remember these, 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, including winchester, have much better quality cameras. They're streaming live, often on youtube and but always. And the fabulous thing is that over the coming months actually there's a really great opportunity to really watch these birds from your living room or your bedroom or wherever. And peregrines. At the moment we're kind of talking right at the very end of Mark. So most peregrines are going down on eggs down and some of them are still laying, some of already got full clutches. So throughout April they're going to be incubating, throughout may they're going to be hatching and feeding those chicks. So wherever you are in the country it's worth seeing if there are cameras on perhaps local peregrines. There's definitely cameras on Exeter, likes winchester. We've got Wakefield and Sheffield and Nottingham. We've got someone London peregrines such as Saturn Mordern, for example. Where else? Trying to think where else now, but you know there's quite a variety of different lemonton SPA in the Midlands. So there's a lots of different cameras out there at moment following the peregrines and and giving us really the intimate chance to see these birds up close but from our homes. Sounds fantastic. Maybe we could include a link at the end of this podcast and for our listeners and earn our listeners can can click on that and it's definitely can find a video that's closer to home for them. So you've touched on the the persecution that peregrines suffered from a few years ago with pesticides and things, because they were actually quite rarely across Britain. Weren't especially in the S. Yeah, so when the stuff a lot you to pesticides in the food chain and now they do seem to be doing much better. Are they doing well all the cross Britain 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 go back 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 then really, 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 Victorian periods and then TURC and World War. They were shot as part of the Ministry 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 the countryside. Identity was being used on cereals crops and it was realized that there was a link between that spraying and declining populations of not just peregrins but also other birds of prey and animals like Otters, that it was banned. And then it also coincided with peregrins becoming protected. So in we in the s we had 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 hundreds of years, I would imagine. Yes, I see them now what's called a schedule 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 what we call schedule one license means that they, unlike a blackbird or a blue tiff, example, they have extra protection. So because they almost went extinct in Britain and because they are still vulnerable to being persecuted and they're still vulnerable 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 they are alongside barn owls and bittens and other rarer rereading birds in Britain. They're protected on to what they call schedule one. So that means that whereas I could go up to a blackbird nest and maybe just check how many eggs or chicks 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 of a peregrine unless I have a special license and that special license allows experience to peregrine researchers or people who want to record more about the the nesting behavior of the peregrines to go down what have you. So it gives them an extra layer of 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 the question 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 is it done now? So of eight years a goal. So the results of that 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 along parts 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 declines in peregrines. And at the moments it's put down as a brilliant paper by Wilson 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 fact that it's thought to be to to habitats not, you know, the habitat not being as good qualities it used to be. Pray, species declinings of 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 open moorland and very, very open areas, where as less people around to see that legal behavior going on. So there's a real dichotomy of peregrines in that they are doing very well in many parts of of the UK but in many remote and coastal and upland are as a Britain they're not. They're not doing so well. So it's certain I think it's always a sort of message really of not being complacent. It's always about seeing that bigger picture and celebrating the urban 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 them and 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, the abundance of Red Kites, for example, where they might be saying Oxford cheer or somewhere like that, or will she you know, they're worried about that a conflict between them, but there isn't evidence of that. Red Kites and buzzards are both scavengers. They in their own right have their own sort of niches 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 there is a conflict or a problem at all between the increase in red kites and buzzards. And indeed, when you look at where these decreases in the peregrine is happening, it's happening in places where perhaps actually there's also very much lower densities of buzzards and red kites. Anyway, right, okay, and with we're touching on webcams earlier and with the webcams on open Peregrins, and do we know what they're currently up to? I mean, obviously right now they're going to be sitting on eggs, as you as you touched on, and then what's that sort of process through the year? When? When will their eggs hatching? How long do the the chicks stay with them? When will they fledge and where will they go? Can these cameras reveal yeah, information like this? So one thing that's really interesting is that thirty years ago peregons generally laid eggs towards the end, right...

...towards the end of March and early April, and what we're seeing with particular with urban dwelling Peregrines, as that they're laying eggs now as early as the end of the first week of March into 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 is still 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 an athology looking at some of that the laying date numbers really and that and that's in line with other birds like great tits as well, which are laying earlier and earlier. With that I guess are warming springs and warming climate. So April would be a month really of incubation and those eggs are incubated for over thirty days really, bound sort of thirty five days, maybe more, and then 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 egg really, perhaps more sort of Bantam size or a little bit bigger than a bandon egg size, but not as big as a chicken egg. And so when those chicks hatch they take well, it's a good sort of six weeks or more in the nest really. So the first two weeks they've got their first coat of down and they can still be quite vulnerable to the cold and wet weather. So if it's wet or cold outside, you'll still see mum or dad covering them over ready to keep them warm and dry and also sheltered from 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're darker feathers starting to grow through the fluff basically, and then as we get into sort of early to mid June, they start getting to the point where they'll start perhaps fledging or exploring the nest a bit more. Depends what the nest 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 I drop below then they may, hopefully, if there's not too many chicks in this, hang on until they're kind of first flight around, and that's when they're at their most vulnerable really. They often do end up grounded, and so peregrine champion groups or perhaps individuals that watch the birds often have to then go and rescue them and get them up to a higher level so that they're away from cars and people and things like that behind it. It must be a 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 at the 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 it wrong. I've got it. You know it's. For me it's a real celebration that programs are in urban locations as and now me to do a lot of research about them and what they eat and all sorts of things like that where 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 do get it wrong and end up on the ground and of course, you know, 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 sit on 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's when they're most vulnerable, just when they're fledging in urban locations. After that kind of initial fledging period, though, they hone those hunting skills, mom and dad bringing live prey which they kind of release for the chicks to Ben Chase 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 and but the time you get to September October time, often they may not be around. They might be, but often they are then dispersing and explore in the countryside and they may still come back...

...throughout the winter and the springtime and occasionally we're seeing now just a single sibling sometimes being allowed back to help mom and 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 or do they, you know, fly from miles at yeah, because so that's a really good kind of link actually for me to show. So what we do is when the chicks are about three weeks old, we put these little color rings on their legs. It's wonder license that I mentioned earlier. We put these colorings on the legs. We work with the British Mountaineering Council to go down to the nests and so we can follow the birds and see where they go. We also have to put on a metal ring as well. So this metal ring, which was the white way around, metal rings put on. We have to do that for the British as an authology, so that bird that ring will stay on the bird until perhaps it's found dead or something. And the color ring is in an additional ring that we put on to be able to identify the birds from a distance. And so out of over a hundred and forty peregrins that we've ringed, for example around the Bristol and 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 really is 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 was hatched in bath in the about two thousand and seven and he's still they're now thirteen years later, as the breeding mail. So he's an extreme example of not going anywhere. But many male birds move a bit further, maybe twenty thirty miles or so, sometimes further, sometimes a hundred miles. And what we're finding is that female peregrines move much, much further. So they might be moving sixty, seventy, eighty over a hundred miles away. So we had one one chick that was fledged in Exeter, for example, in Devon, and that one was found in Halifax in Yorkshire. We have a female that was hatched in bath and she headed over to knowledge and she's now the breeding female in Norwich. After she chased off the breeding female, she unfortunately killed actually a few of the chicks from that particular breeding year and then took over as the breeding female the following year. So the color ringing really gives us a chance to find out, you know, what these birds are up to. So we know that in the West country, for example, a lot of young peregrines are dispersing a kind of a northeast direction. They're heading into more sort of emptier vacant parts of the country where peregrins are living in a much lower density right and there's that. That's presumably because they've got more food availability for them, less competition. Yeah, I think so. Well it so males don't tend to move too far, as I say, and I think that's that's a mechanism to stop in breeding going on. So the females 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 the east of the country, in the northeast of Britain, have up until very recently have had much bigger gaps. So when peregrins started to recover from the effects of pesticides and persecution in the S, I think there was a stronger population of peregrines already in the west of Britain. Basically, so these birds have just taken time to gradually move and so there's still kind of vacant areas in 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 females that do the choosings. The females are going around the countryside, all towns of cities looking for males. And what we're seeing happening now, particularly perhaps more in southern England and the Midlands, is that there's quite a high density of peregrins and non breeding birds called floaters.

So often where there's a pair of peregrines that are nesting in the shadows on the outskirts, there are often non breeding male male or females that are hoping for a chance, and so they might sometimes move in and try fighting with the breeding pair or one of the breeding pair to try and muscle their way in. Basically, so we're starting to see much, much more, much greater social interactions now between peregons because 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 the UK and stay here all you around? Of Yeah. So the PA, the peregrines Latin name is Folco Peregrynis, which means the wonder, and that relates 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 will winter in a rat for example, in India. But in Britain, because we are because we're at we have a very warm, moist climate in the winter, parrogons don't have any need to. My great so in the mountains in Scotland they might come down to lower areas, for example, but generally we 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 generally hang around their territories. If you've got a pair of Peregons, the the like is that that male of female will hang around throughout the winter. We do have one exception to that, though. In that June last year, so June two thousand and nineteen, we had some chicks ringed by one of my fellow ringers, Luke Sutton, in Taunton in Somerset, and unbelievably one of the chicks would discovered in November. So it's July. Our stept up. No, so five months later in Morocco. Wow, and but that is incredibly unusual. That is incredibly unusual. That was the first record of a British peregrine going to mainland North Africa. Up Un to that point there had been a peregrine had gone from Britain to the Canary Islands, but this, this bird from Taunton, was the first peregrine to actually go to North Africa from Britain. So very unusual. But generally they are. They're very much local, local birds, but they will switch around territories. So in their lifetime a female peregrine might have three or four different partners and a male peregrine might have two or three different partners and they won't always stay in the same nesting location. So a female peregrine, for example, might nest in one location for a year or two with them or more, maybe up to ten years, maybe we wanted two different partners, and then she might change her nesting location and go and breede with a different male somewhere else. So often 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 can tell whether there's a new male or female in town, even if they're UN rings. They can often tell by maybe differences in their plumage patterns or things like that. Hmm Wow, it's fascinating. I remember watching a pair of Peregrins when I lived up in Scotland. US to live up there and work as a wildlife guide and most years, as you just said, they would move further south a little bit resuspected for for the winter. And there's one year where they decided to stay and I do remember looking at them and watching them one particularly cold, Wet, windy, soggy morning and they both looked very much like they regretted their decision to stay. would be like owls and other birds, but they don't like the wet very much. They just stand there and get boggy. Yeah, they were looking very sorry for themselves and sort of female was looking to the male and sort of to say whose idea was this? That kind of thing.

And Yeah, but they were wonderful to watch. And you've been studying their their diets in urban locations for twenty years or so, haven't you? And you have, and what have you discovered 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 and they certainly do eat a lot of fairl feral pigeons in particular, sometimes called a 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 what they eat and urban locations is that actually half to maybe two thirds of the Diet 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 to know more about why parrogns are not doing so well in certain parts of Britain or perhaps why they might be vulnerable in certain places, they're actually knowing what they'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 declining in 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 this decline is to do with declining pray species that are not pigeon, things like Golden Plover, lapwing or what have you. So in urban locations I can show you some some so a lot of my diet work has been looking at feathers, wings, skulls that peregons are basically plucked or snipped off, and that's what we find. So it grew someome. But, for example, here is the wing of a black tailed Godwit, and peregrines will sometimes eat these in urban locations, and so what we think is going on is that peregons are hunting, for example, pigeons during the daytime, but then at nighttime 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 hunting birds like pigeons, and then at night time they're sitting in the shadows of a 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 them back. So the of pray work that I've done with other people in across the 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 and pray for which, just like this, we've been able to actually show that peregrins 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 is the leg of a jackdor for example. And well, where do you find these? You finding them around the nest. Yeah, so they're going about on streets. So these feathers, for example, from a Wimbrel, which is like a small but cousin of the curly. And when the peregrines are up in the church or a cathedral, they are plucking the prey. So these are feathers, for example, from a redshank. And so when they're plucking those feathers, they fall to the ground and we can find those on the ground below. And then when the peregrines of actually fledgeday young and the nest isn't under protection any longer, we can also go up to those roofs 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 there as well. But covering really is that the pair urban dwelling peregrine, certainly across the UK, feed on a whole variety of prey, over a hundred different species really, and there is a commonality when you start looking at the fact that they are eating things like that wings till dark golden plovers and things whole variety of different wading birds like the...

...godwits and Red Shank I just showed you. Is a common prey item. And small birds are often harder to find because they have smaller, lighter feathers a blow away more easily. But again we can find those and also with the help of Webcameras we're seeing peregrines now bringing back things like chaffinches and goldfinches and and logging those kind of smaller birds that, just with pray remains, are much harder to find, of course. And today, and we're going to say pellets, as some of the birds birds are pay do yeah, and do you go through these and not? 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 or barn 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 the smaller, fluffier feathers, often of pigeons. They do sometimes contain skulls and bones and sometimes they'll contain more striking feathers like, for example, of a water rail stripe, you side feathers of a water rail or the stripy feathers of 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 recently really a lot of my work has been, as I say, with Nick Dixon in Devon and Nick Brown and Nick Moise up in in Darby. But what I'm doing now really is tapping into lots of different people across the country who are monitoring urban locations and so, as part of a parttime PhD this autumn I want to actually start looking at the prey of peregrines from over ninety locations in Britain so that I can actually build up a much better idea and build up a much better generalization, I guess, of what urban peregrines are really 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 of the UK as it could be. So by getting pray remains from across ninety different locations, almost a hundred locations, now we can hopefully really build up a 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 to maybe some of their rural counterparts. Wow, that sounds fascinating. And and what's just 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 of the yeah, that's a good question. So in in an urban location the largest 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 fly back to a church or a building. So you have to you have to look out at more rural locations like wetlands for example. And so when you start looking at a wetland where there's lots of ducks and water birds and things like that, then peregrine are capable of bringing down birds like little grits and they have been known to bring down things like gray leg geese, Brent geese and even gray herons. I've not known those in recent times, but in recent times I do know of birds such as, as say, little grits and and things like widgeon duck are taken much, much more frequently in a rural location such as a wetland, but I think they're just a little bit too heavy sometimes for a peregrine to bring back to an urban location. So quite big. What I think is even more fascinating, though, is how a peregrine can actually catch some of the smaller birds. So from time to time we do record things like wrens and gold crests and small birds like Siskins in the Diet. So they're quite capable, like a Sparro Walk Really, of catching very, very small birds as well. Wow, I find that absolutely phenomenal to see that. The image in my mind right now of a pair agine trying to wrestle with the goose. I knows it's quite remarkable. That another interesting but of behaviors little groups. I showed you here's my little greep skull just here. So they're eat...

...little greeves and we know that they will catch those at night. But I do know, and I've seen some footage of this, where peregrines will also wait for little greeves to come up from a dive and then try and grab them off the water. So they have 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, when you 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 to be 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's next for peregrines? Do you think what's next for peregons? Well, I think in urban locations it's it's more of them really. I think that we're going to see much more habitation, you know, them taking up more urban locations across across the UK really. So if a town or city doesn't have them yet, then I think that over the next sort of fight, five years even. Were not even ten years, but over the next five years they will. They will start to see them appearing, not necessarily nesting, because quite often on urban locations they need a helping hand. Sometimes they need a nest box or something like that and otherwise their net, their eggs often just rolled into the gutters. So sometimes they do need a helping hand if perhaps local groups or local wildlife people feel it's fit. And sometimes putting up a 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 with having 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. I think 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 what next is that we're going to see, hopefully, an increase in peregons using our urban locations, but I think with continually continuing declines in woodland birds and farmland birds and more than birds, for example, we need to be we need our finger on the pulse really with keeping an eye on what's going with some of our rural and more rural, Moreland and coastal peregons, really to make sure that we understand what's going on and why, and that's why I think knowing about the diets important. Other obviously my work is much more on the urban Peregon, but you know, if we can understand what's making the urban peregon tick, we can maybe trying to understand why the rural paragons not doing so well, and they have been studied in greater detail. Their Diet has been studied in great detail over the last sort of ten, twenty, thirty years also. So there are comparisons that that can be made. I think. Also with technology, I think there's just greater access for people enjoying these birds more so than you know, even though many of us might see Sparrow Hawks in their local park or our garden, I think there's peregons are much more predictable birds. So there's much greater engagement of people watching these birds on web cameras or being able to go into town and actually see them on a building and really enjoy watching these birds and, in addition to watching his birds online, are going out into towns and looking for them. Well, really, how can I listens increase their chances of actually spotting one during the coming weeks, particularly during the these weeks of isolation and self quarantine? Self isovation, I should say, and in quarantine. How can people increase their chances of actually spotting one? Yeah, really good question. Would you know? It's about just keeping your eyes and ear is peeled overhead. So when I was going for a walk in the forest of deem, just very close to my house, last week, I saw a peregone on two occasions and it was simply by looking up being aware of what was going overhead. There was the odd buzzard going overhead, there was the odd goal going overhead and then one of those birds happened to be a peregrine. So it's about just keeping your eyes and heels peered as as I mentioned earlier on, if you're in somewhere like a city like bristol or bath or Nottingham, it's about just being aware of what's around and overhead. And in many cities now, as I mentioned earlier on, you are more...

...likely to see a peregone than you are a Spou Hawk or a chestral buzzard. So it's just looking up, looking around, particular on a good clear, sunny day, perhaps when there's a bit of a breeze, because birds of prey love having a bit of wind and breeze around them or have you, and looking, as I say, for a bird of prey. There's long pointy wings, this kind of shallow wing beat, flying quite bulky breasts. And if you go on to a website like the rspbs or, for example, as webcots called Zeno Canto, which is xno Canto, see Anteo do org. It's got a whole audio encyclopedia of birds and if you look up the peregrine, you'll be able to 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 sound that 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 and an ear out when I'm next going on my walks on my lunch break or the coming few weeks. Ed, I feel like I've been by your side with my binoculars while learning from you. It's been absolutely fantastic because I'm out to you and thank you so much for that insight into the world's fastest a bird. For listeners at home, we hope you've enjoyed listening to this podcast and it we've brightened your day somewhat. If you're keen to learn more about open peregrine, so you can buy Ed's book called Urban Peregrine, which is sold by Pelagic publishing, which you can see on the screen now if you're watching the the Webinar and Ed, we hope to it to touch pace with you again soon. Yeah, Ively, thanks Sarah and Kank so much for joining us. Thank you. Okay, and then I can start the recording there, edge, you're fantastic. Thank you. I like that. I don'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 question that I am that I phrased wrongly with quarantine, but I can just record that 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, I hope 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, and I thought we ended up being quite natural, you know, because we you had lived a bit, we have lived a bit, so I think it was all right in the end. Yeah, I think, I think that was okay. Actually to worry about there. Yeah, I think you got you'll slip it up a bit now. Get it down to half an hour, will you, or just leave it is is. I'll see how long it is, because I quite liked it really. There was no waffle that I want to cut out. So I'll see. I'll see how long it is and in terms of a link or something. So yeah, I mean obviously there's quite a variety of different webcams out there. To you now and just let you know some of them. M Yeah, that'd be brilliant. Yeah, you can. Yeah, that'd be great. The great thing with this is it records the video and audio together and then it gives you a separate 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 were showing things to the screen, I was kind of making sure if you were going to describe something, I was going to prompt you to ask you to describe it for people who weren't able to watch. Actually, it was fine if anyone was doing a just an audio based thing. And so, yeah, no good problems. Right. Yeah, it's so nice to to twitch base with you. And Yeah, absolutely a bit of normality. Tell me about 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 sign it 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, as I tell you, yeah, no, no problem. Yeah, you were my first my first thought. So, have you had that for anyone else? got a you a boat from chairs and Tim Melling, Sophie the Gil not sure signing who I thought I might...

...be speaking to today, but she's not go back to me yet, but she did say that she was interested and would love to chat to me. She's got reject called more than weeds which 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 put these 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 was all. So thanks a lot. Ed will then where the best best wishes to 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 a link. Lovely. Thank you all right. Thanks said.

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