Members of the North West Raptor Group installing new Peregrine platform on St Annes church tower.

You will recall that on 21st February of this year we posted a blog detailing the recovery of a shot adult female Peregrine, one of a breeding pair, from the outside of the tower on St Thomas Church in St Annes. The corpse of the female Peregrine was removed from the rain guttering where she had laid since just after Christmas by a team from the St Anne’s Fire Rescue. Following an X-ray of the dead falcon it was proved that the female Peregrine had been injured by a single lead pellet discharged from a shotgun. After being shot somehow the female falcon had flown back to the church where she had managed to perch on the towers outside stone rain gutters until eventually dying, most likely the result of lead poisoning from the single lead pellet.

 


The situation being encountered at the church was interesting, not least because the resident male had made no attempt to replace his dead partner between Christmas and the date in February when the female’s corpse was removed from the tower. However, within 6 days following the removal of the Peregrine corpse, the male had returned to the tower with a brand new replacement female Peregrine of a breeding age.

The two falcons quickly bonded and eventually the female laid 4 eggs producing 4 chicks, 3 of which successfully fledged in June. Subsequently, when the inside of the tower was examined after the brood had all fledged, a fourth unfledged male chick was found unable to fly running round the top of the tower roof area where the adult falcons seemingly had been bringing prey to keep the male alive.

After being examined by a vet the male chick was found to be suffering from a genetic disorder which resulted in this falcons unusually small size, weighing just 14 ounces. It appears although this little miniature male peregrine was perfectly proportioned on the outside it will never fly and cannot be released and as a result has now been taken into care for the rest of its life.. Other experienced raptor experts and breeders having seen the male Peregrine in captivity have all stated this was the smallest male Peregrine Falcon they had ever seen, weighting at least 6 ounces below what a normal male Peregrine should weigh.

The attached video shows several members of the North West Raptor Protection group on Friday 22 September, installing a replacement nesting platform inside the church tower ready for the commencement of the 2018 breeding season. The old nesting box, installed inside the tower 5 years ago was removed last week as the plywood was too rotten to remain in situ as it was no longer safe. We should also add that after the 3 chicks raised had all left the tower, when the 4th male chick was found and removed from the tower, 7 bags of detritus and prey remains were removed preparing the tower for next seasons breeding cycle on the replacement nesting tray.

 

 

The North West Raptor Group are now seeking sponsorship from a local Fylde company to help fund and install a Web Camera which will beam live video of next seasons Peregrine breeding activity across the world from the St Annes Church.

 

 

3 comments to Members of the North West Raptor Group installing new Peregrine platform on St Annes church tower.

  • Greetings!

    Congratulations on designing and installing a truly impressive nest platform. I feel sure that the falcons will find this utterly irresistible. :-)

    I would like to propose two suggested improvements, which could still be done:

    a) Perhaps you’ve already done this but I couldn’t see any drainage holes in the bottom tray area. Perhaps you don’t suffer long periods of driving rain in the North West (:-)) but about a dozen or so, evenly spaced, 1cm diameter holes drilled up from underneath would address the potential risk of flooding. Apologies if this has already been done but it’s not clear from the video.

    b) The wooden baton along the front of the platform is likely to be an important and very frequently used perching and roosting point. I see that you appear to have smoothed off the edges of the baton but I would like to suggest that you add a 5cm round dowel on top of it, all along the front. This will better simulate a natural tree branch and provide a more ‘comfortable’ perch for the falcons (and potentially reduce the risk of foot infections).

    Well done again for your excellent efforts.

    Best regards,

    Nick

    Nick P. Williams, MSc.
    International Raptor Conservationist

    Editor’s Comment. Hi Nick thank you for the complements and further improvement additions you have suggested. We have already added the holes in the floor, so that should be OK. We are hoping to add further 6mm polished pea gravel bringing the level up to the top of the facia board, therefore we may not need the round perch running along the front of the platform?? What do you think?

  • kevin moore

    hi Nick thanks for your comment, i built the platform i drilled about 20 4mm holes in the base before it was filled with pea gravel, if you think it is better to fit a 5cm dowel i certainly will do, would this be better not painted to avoid foot infection? thanks again for your input.

  • Julie

    Well done all involved. Great news on a successful breeding season in sad circumstances. Can’t wait until the web cam goes in. Keep up the good work.