Saturday, 7 July 2012

Top Predator

Spent an afternoon on the Dover coastline walking the white cliffs in the hope of seeing the family of Peregrine Falcons that have bred there this year. It was part of a great day spent with Erin which included visiting Dover Castle but the day was really rounded off with the cliff walk and the sighting of Peregrines.

We walked the entire length of the footpath starting at the National Trust car park and it wasn't until we reached the Lighthouse area where the footpath ends that we saw what we thought was our first Peregrine. It was a strangely marked bird that was causing havoc flying low and scattering Gulls, Pigeons and Jackdaws. We watched this individual fly below us a few times before finally it turned and headed towards us ever rising until it flew at eye level and checked us out, it was totally amazing. After some research and comments from other experienced birdwatchers it seems out close fly by was actually from a captive/escaped Gyr/Lanner Falcon, so not a wild Peregrine unfortunately : (

As we headed back to the car park real Peregrine sightings suddenly became much more constant, maybe they mornings and evenings are best for activity and now we were watching multiple birds calling and squabbling rounded off by a pair fighting mid-air with the cliffs and Dover port as the backdrop and the sun setting, was truly fantastic.

I didn't manage a shot of a perched bird and that is something I did really want but I do want to re-visit soon and might get lucky with that, if not then there will be another time. Would love to study these birds more and would love to document both these cliff dwelling birds as well as their urban cousins, maybe next year I will be more prepared to follow their story rather than catching the end. Hope you enjoy these images!

The strange hybrid/falconers bird

An adult Peregrine

Mid-air squabbles