Some sad news from Nick Dixon, our Peregrine expert, “A friend of mine called me on Saturday 23rd August to say he had a peregrine looking in need of help in his garden, and what should he do? I was in Oxford at the time and wanted to check that it was not a sparrowhawk, so he described it to me and added – it’s got a metal ring on one leg and a blue one one the other leg with HB on it.
“Blue HB was one of the 2014 juvenile females from St Michael’s church that we ringed in May. I collected it on Monday and took it to the RSPCA in Exeter, having spoken to West Hatch at Taunton to let them know I’d got another juvenile from the church. I’ve been in contact with them ever since the 2014 juvenile male went to RSPCA on 12 June. Sadly, blue HB was put to sleep after assessment, due to being seriously underweight, and having a damaged (non repairable) and infected left wing.
“So, of the three young fledged from St Michael’s this year, Blue HC (the male) is still at West Hatch and putting on weight but not flying, Blue HB (female) has now been put to sleep, and I’m asking everyone to keep an eye and ear out for Blue HD, the other female (she will still scream for food when back at the church). I’m really amazed at the fact that Blue HB was found 10.5 miles due west of the church in the garden of someone who knew me and my work with peregrines.”
Sad, but, as Nick says, remarkable to have found out about HB so fully. We don’t know whether she had left the StM area already to try and find her own territory for the winter, or just got hurt and lost.
Good to hear that HC is putting on weight, but I guess his future is still in the balance, depending on what the RSPCA think is best. We’re fairly confident that HD is still at the Church.
Concerning the effects of ringing juveniles in the nest at 3 weeks, Nick comments, “if it was considered to be detrimental to the birds, it would not be allowed, and I would not want it done in Exeter. The benefits of ringing and subsequent recoveries add to our collective knowledge of all species. Peregrines are considered to have high juvenile mortality in their first year, possibly up to 70%, so I am hoping that female HD is our remaining 30% flying free and will see out the dangerous first year of survival.”
All 3 young were rather small falcons this year, well under the average weights for their sex. It may be annual variation in prey or other factors that adults at St Mike’s have just produced a little brood this year, or it may possibly be that the female is coming to the end of her breeding.
We shall keep an eye on them around the Church over the Winter, and plan to resume live streaming from the nest box camera in March 2015.