Welcome to Sheffield Peregrines 2020. A new year and a new beginning. Buckle up for the ride and fingers crossed this year is memorable and eventful for all the right reasons!
The birds have been around St. Georges regularly throughout autumn and winter, perhaps more so than in recent years. They have been spending more and more time on the tower as January has crept into February although not always visible on camera. It looks likely the female has overnighted on the nest platform once or twice already. With 4 sides to the tower and numerous ledges for the birds to loaf about on, it is always worth a trip into the city centre if you need a Peregrine fix. Be sure to tweet @SheffPeregrines to let everybody know what you see.
The nest platform was given a good clean-up in late November to get rid of the weeds and detritus which had built up. As ever thanks go to Phil for organising this and the University of Sheffield Estates & Facilities Management team for carrying the work out. Top job.
As the birds have been seen regularly on the cameras there’s no reason to think that these birds are not the two who finished the 2019 season (after all the drama) but as the birds are not marked or ringed we can never really be 100% sure. They’ve been faithful to the site so far, let’s hope they’re as faithful to each other this year. If things go as nature intended we should start to see more courtship behaviour in the coming weeks, hopefully resulting in copulation attempts, it will be interesting to see how things develop for this new pairing. Who knows, the mild (so far!) winter may mean things start to happen a little earlier than is typical?
In the meantime one thing for everybody to look out for is what our birds are bringing back to eat and report it to help with a national research project. Dr Deborah Dawson of the University of Sheffield (Dept of Animal & Plant Sciences) is collaborating Bristol based naturalist Ed Drewitt on his research into the prey items of urban Peregrines. Ed has studied the Peregrines in Bristol for many years and is now hoping to gather prey information from 20 urban Peregrine sites. If you would like to help then please email firstname.lastname@example.org and Deborah will provide details of how to record the kills. It will be basic information of date, time, prey species (including age and sex if possible) and it might be worth considering grabbing screenshots of the items to verify ID if you are observing the birds online rather than down at the church.
We know from previous work done at the Derby, Nottingham, Norwich and Wakefield (amongst others) that urban Falco peregrinus have a remarkably varied diet and can take unexpected species such as Great Spotted Woodpecker, Kingfisher and many nocturnal migrants such as Coot, Water Rail and even Corncrake. It’s not all just pigeons as you might think! Indeed it’s always worth checking out what the Wakefield birds have been munching on – https://wakefieldperegrines.com/prey/ – what were the odds on getting Leach’s Petrel I wonder??
More info on Ed Drewitt can be found at https://www.eddrewitt.co.uk
So all the more reason to keep watching the cameras! If you like watching and learning about the Peregrines please tell your friends about them, share what you see with the @SheffPeregrines twitter feed. If you want to get to know more about birds and birding in and around the Sheffield area head over to SBSG www.sbsg.org Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month at 7.15pm in the Diamond Building, right next to St. Georges.