Shropshire Peregrine Group

 Est. 1997

Articles about Shropshire's Peregrines

Tree Nesting

 Report by Andrew Morton

The land (private, no public access) used by the peregrines for hunting and breeding is low lying ground, no point being higher than 60 metres above sea level.

Once the area would have been extensive wetland and until relatively recently it was largely undrained and unimproved. A network of temporary pools and lagoons can form in damp winter months that in turn can attract many birds.

Bird monitoring work started in November 2001 and consists of regular year round visits. During the early surveys the peregrines were noted. Below are some observations of peregrine breeding taken from the records from last nine years of monitoring on the site.

2001 - winter Peregrines observed on winter visits.

2002 - 3 young fledged from a redundant crows nest high up in a 150+ year old half dead solitary oak tree. The nest was approximately 15m above ground level.

2003 - Attempted to breed in the same nest but the nest collapsed after 3? eggs had been laid - remains of shells found below tree (analysed as fertile by Ministry science lab)

2004 - An artificial nest (hanging basket) was secured on top of wooden boards on a lower bough of the same oak, approximately 10m. above ground level. No nesting attempt in this tree and none found elsewhere. Independent report in Sept. of young peregrines on neighbouring land (unconfirmed by author).

2005 - 3 chicks successfully fledged from artificial nest

2006 - The ‘basket’ was refurbished (by volunteers) in January. No breeding recorded.

2007 - A flimsy crows nest in a hedgerow oak some 300m NE of the original tree chosen for the laying of eggs. In late April the nest collapsed with eggs - shells found beneath tree. Number not known. No further attempt to lay, although the female was seen inspecting the ‘basket’ site. Pair seen in area all summer.

2008 - A second artificial nest placed on a bough in failed 2007 tree. This was ignored. Another site, another crows nest, another oak tree - this time with much denser foliage - a shorter, stouter tree 900m SE of the original tree. One chick successfully fledged (tiercel). The young bird remained with its parents throughout autumn /winter.

2009 - The 2008 tree nest blew out during the winter. A more substantial and higher crows nest in a tall solitary oak in the centre of a field 250m N of the 2008 tree was chosen. One chick successfully fledged. By the end of the summer the nest had disintegrated.

2010 - In January another basket and a wooden platform were strategically placed high up in the 2009 tree, incorporating a small quantity of fine gravel to try to mimic a cliff nest site. The birds chose another redundant corvid’s nest precariously positioned on the outer branches of a mid aged, wide spreading oak 900m+ SE of the original tree and 300+m NW of the 2009 site. The oak is the most westerly and youngest tree in a mixed line of oak and ash below which grows an old thorn hedge. The tree nest location looked as vulnerable as the 2007 nest and it proved to be so. The falcon was sitting on May 8th but ten days later there was no sign of the nest or peregrines. Close inspection under the tree revealed bits of egg shell (made up one complete egg when re-assembled). Within a month the birds re-appeared on site. It seems unlikely that they attempted to breed elsewhere.

2011 - The birds were very active early in the season and a new nest site was chosen, an old (2yr old) crow's nest. April - The female was sitting and being fed by the male. Unfortunately this nest collapsed. June - a second clutch hatched and two young successfully fledged!

2012 - A second tree nest has been located in a different part of the County, again in an old crow's nest.

Photos below taken in 2005 by Jim Almond

tree nesting

 

tree nesting

 

 

 

Fostering of Chicks

In 2008 Shropshire was the location for the first occasion in the UK that foster parents have been used to rear orphan peregrine chicks.

In a joint operation with the RSPB, the Shropshire Peregrine Group relocated two peregrine chicks whose parents had been killed in illegal traps set near their nest in the Cannock area.

One chick was placed in each of the Shropshire nests and was monitored daily by members of the Peregrine Group. The operation was a success, with both chicks being immediately accepted by their foster parents and going on to fledge.

fostered chick