The current breeding adult Peregrine pair have been nesting in Cann Quarry every year since 2011. They took the quarry territory from an aging pair and have managed to hold off many prospective successors since. The two current chicks represent their fifth breeding year and make a total of 10 fledged offspring from this pair.
Female Peregrines (Falcons) are a third larger than the males. If you want to differentiate between the pair a size comparison is often the easiest way. Luckily the Plym Valley falcon has distinctively darker feathering on her head and, for unknown reasons, she has a limp talon that hangs whilst she flies.The male Peregrine (Tiercel) in the Plym Valley can be identified from the slightly lighter feathering on his head and by his fading front feather pattern.
The Tiercel and Falcon on the nest during the 2015 season
They were able to raise sucessful chicks during their first mating year in 2011 producing two female chicks. As the young chicks were rung we were able to track their progress. One of the birds from this brood was spotted on Dartmoor last year raising her own chicks, making our pair grandparents!
The pair returned to the quarry in 2012 for their second nesting year. Unfortunately, the summer of 2012 was the wettest summer on record for 100 years. The resulting rainfall and lower tempuratures meant that the chicks were unable to survive their first few fragile weeks. Sadly, no chicks left the nest this year.
Following the events of the previous year, in 2013 the breeding pair took over a nesting site previously used by ravens. This nest provided shade and shelter and they were able to raise a successful brood of 3 chicks who mostly left the nest.
In 2014 a familiar face had returned. A male juvenile, nicknamed ‘Junior’, from 2013 had refused to leave home. The breeding pair had the challenge of raising 3 chicks whilst Junior stole food, made a fuss and caused havok. Ultimately, the 3 chicks succesully fledged and left the nest. However, Junior’s fate remains a mystery. He was last positively id’d in November 2014 and by now if he has survived will have his full adult plumage.
The returning juvenile during the 2014 season
There has already been plenty of action during the 2015 season. The pair have successfully fledged 2 chicks from an initial brood of 3. They still have several more weeks of hard work ahead of them in order for the young to have the best chance of surviving their first winter in the wild where the mortality rate is 70%.
David – Seasonal Peregrine Ranger