Occasionally an opportunity seems to present itself from nowhere that is so unbelievably convenient and yet special that it is easy to become immersed and intertwined into the lives of your subjects. We became aware and a Peregrine family using the local church (outside our bedroom window) as a plucking post, stripping down pigeons before taking them to the nest which was high on another building about a further 1/2 mile away.
I scoped the nest from a distance and could see two large young and one smaller chick. With time the adults brought the youngsters to the plucking ledge on the church which enabled me to spend some time working out the best spots depending on light and which ledge they would choose. Several dead pigeons later and I was enraptured by these magnificent falcons, literally on my door step. Some mornings they would wake us up screaming as they brought in a new kill at five in the morning
A kill would be brought and one of the two youngsters would fly up and take it from the female and bring it down for consumption. By early August the two bigger juveniles left, but to my delight and relief the female continued to bring in food to the ‘runt’ and over time he moved to the plucking site. As he was smaller and weaker he couldn’t take the kills as high up the church which meant I could now try and get some shots. The time spent in the previous months was now invaluable as I knew where I could go without disturbing him. I agreed access to a higher location with one of the local restaurants (up their fire escape) and whiled away many afternoons and evenings waiting and watching these wonderful birds. Alas, it’s hard not to become attached and the day finally came when this last, weak Peregrine went out and caught his own Pigeon. My hair was standing on end in the excitement when he brought home the kill – panting and barely with the energy to pluck the prey. It was a bittersweet moment because I knew that he would be away soon, but I was utterly delighted that three Peregrines had fledged and I had the privilege to share this with the Peregrine family – occasionally with a beer in one hand!
The youngster with a kill
Female Peregrine looking over young after kill brought in
Youngster on first hunting flight (unsuccessful)
With his first kill (the most memorable moment of the entire project)
You can see a video of the memorable moment below
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