For many years, I was privileged to spend each New Year's Day in the field in the company of a one of the foremost authorities on the Peregrine Falcon - see http://tinyurl.com/o64xl3q or follow the website link below.
Despite continuous rain all morning, as a tribute to Dick, I was determined to maintain our long-standing tradition and to find a Peregrine on the the first day of the year. So I drove to Greylake at lunchtime to be ready and waiting for the mid-afternoon 'brief brighter periods', brilliantly predicted by the Met Office.
After two hours of watching water bounce off the backs of several hundred ducks, surprisingly the sky brightened and the rain ceased. Within minutes an adult male Peregrine appeared, and flew up to perch on the apex of a pylon.
He spent 10 minutes 'dancing' in the strong wind, wings outstretched and talons clamped tightly onto the galvanised steel frame to avoid being dislodged from his precarious perch. This is the fastest and neatest way for a falcon to 'blow dry' saturated feathers.
He then flew off fast and rose up to intercept a high-flying Snipe. There was an exciting but unsuccessful high speed chase before the tiercel descended and landed on a gatepost, quite close to a previously unseen adult female resting on a gate. Happy New Year Dick!
2 Peregrine (adult male and female, probably a pair) - see above.
1 Hen Harrier (ringtail) - flew NW through above the reserve.
2 Common Buzzard - one perched for a hour on a post in heavy rain. Later it flew off and was seen sparring briefly with another individual just above the tree-tops.
90+ Black-headed Gull
35+ Common Snipe
30+ Meadow Pipit
3 Little Egret
2 Pied Wagtail
1 Robin - singing briefly but beautifully.
Happy New Year and may you all experience a bird-filled 2014.
I spent a little time with Dick over a number of years, whenever I see a peregrine I think of him and miss the oppertunity to watch Peregrines with him
Dick is much missed but often quoted amoung my local peregrine watchers