Monday, July 17, 2006

Peregrine Falcons

The East Devon coast is home to a number of pairs of peregrine falcons and it is generally agreed that there is now a sustainable number of breeding pairs along the cliffs. This is indeed good news. However, there are problems as I found out during the past week.

Peregrine Falcon

The photo above was taken with a 120mm lens on the D200, not an ideal set up but it was the lens on the camera at the time. As the description of the photo says, I needed my 300mm lens. Next time!

Except there won't be a next time. About a week ago, birdwatchers reported sighting a dead chicken chick corpse in the eerie and no falcons. Since then the breeding pair and their chick(s) have completely disappeared from Lower Dunscombe Cliff. No-one has had a sighting.

Possible explanations are, of course, the discussion point among binocular and telescope carrying folk. I have spoken to several retirees and they all confirm that in World War Two there was a systematic government campaign to remove peregrine falcons from the Wye Valley as they were destroying carrier pigeons conveying uncoded secret documents from South Wales to London. The Symonds Yat area of the Wye Valley had the largest concentration of falcons and they were systematically wiped out in a bizarre effort to help the war against Hitler.

It turns out that this piece of history may be related to the presence of the dead chicken chick. Local pigeon fanciers have been thought to be responsible for poisoning a breeding pair at Exmouth so it is quite possible that this is what has happened at Lower Dunscombe. A deplorable situation if it's true.