Bird Sightings

Seen an interesting bird?  Then let us know by submitting a record on our on-line database.  It is easy to do but if you need some instructions take a look at the Submit Sightings Page.  To view the latest sightings just click on the menu item for Latest Sightings.

Some birds are not uncommon in other parts of the country or around our coasts, but may be in Buckinghamshire.  If you want to see just how scarce a particular species is then take a look at the Bucks List.

MK Peregrines

While the pair of Aylesbury Peregrine Falcons failed to successfully raise any young past the fledging stage this year, the good news is that Peregrines in Milton Keynes have been successful in fledging three chicks from a nest in the MK Stadium.  Apparently a staff member at the stadium has seen one of the adults drop prey items in the middle of the pitch and two of the youngsters took it in turns to fly down and grab it.  No doubt good practice.  Hopefully these birds will be seen in the area for some time.

The World’s fastest bird has successfully bred again in 2017 inside Stadium MK, the home of Milton Keynes Don’s.pegchick2017stadiummk1a-700

A pair of Peregrine’s was first noted in 2013-2014 and they are believed to have attempted to breed in 2014.  In 2015 the first confirmed breeding took place when the falcon’s utilised an old crow’s nest in the East stand and successfully fledged (flying independently) one chick.  In 2016 the birds moved to an old crow’s nest in the South-West corner of the stadium and successfully raised their family of 3 chicks to fledging stage, with the chicks on the wing in mid-June.

In 2017 the birds again nested in an old Crow’s nest in the South of the Stadium and fledged  3 chicks again, a week earlier than 2016.  The family are still doing well and whilst only really visible for much of the time from inside the stadium, with patience the birds can be observed over and around the outside.

A purpose built platform has been erected inside the stadium which has a dedicated CCTV camera fixed on it, it is hoped that the birds will utilise this platform for breeding in 2018. If they do then it is hoped that images from this camera can be screened to a wider audience.

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Female Peregrine in the stadium

The Peregrine Falcon is the world’s fastest bird, reaching speeds in excess of 200 mph in a stoop ( a dive ); speeds of between 250-300 mph have been claimed. Their prey is virtually any other bird species ( that they are able to carry ), and predominantly always taken on the wing. In catching their prey Peregrines can undergo tremendous ‘G- force’, way in excess of that endured by human’s, for example- fighter pilots. The Peregrines at StadiumMK represent only the 3rd known breeding site in Buckinghamshire, and the 2nd in an urban environment.

The Peregrines population in the UK has fluctuated over the last century, mainly due to effects on it caused by humans, both negative and positive. In the 1960’s the population hit an all-time low due to problems with egg shell thinning caused by pesticides. Since then there has been a fourfold population increase, with the population in the UK estimated at over 1500 pairs, so birds have started moving into many of our towns and cities, utilising tall buildings to nest upon. This has allowed dedicated people to install CCTV camera’s which has allowed us to see in far greater detail the life of this stunning raptor. One interesting aspect of Peregrine behaviour only confirmed in recent years has been their propensity to hunt at night, making use of the artificial light from the streets below to light up their prey as it passes over.

Peregrines are afforded special protection in law, and it’s fair to say that they enjoy even more protection at StadiumMK where the staff feel proud of their Peregrines and enjoy the sight of the the fastest creature on the planet zooming overhead.

These birds are at the top of the avian food chain, they are stunning to watch and breath-taking when hunting and in courtship displays, in the eyes of many, they are simply ‘Bird number 1’.

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One of the MK youngsters

Article and photos supplied by Mike Wallen (Thanks Mike).  All photos taken around the 7th June.