Okay, you're alone at home, minding your own business and happen to look out the window where you are shocked to see the beady, sparkling eye of a foot-tall bird of prey, its feathers ruffled by the wind, its sharp talons twisted round the metalwork of the balcony - it's a peregrine!
This is exactly what happened to Peter Kenyon, who lives in central London close to our Aren't birds brilliant! Peregrine watch at the Tate Modern. You can see one, maybe two, or if you're lucky, upto FIVE of these amazing birds through our Nikon telescopes at the Tate Modern anyday from noon until 7 pm (8 pm Fridays) right through to the Mayor's Thames Festival on Sunday 16 September. Don't forget, last week I asked you to help name the new peregrine male at the Tate - come and visit us to take part.
When we arrived to set-up the other day, the adult male made a food pass to one of his offspring mid-flight. Later, the three young males were play-fighting up above. The female chose to sit out the fight.
To see this action in Central London is absolutely amazing. We're witnessing the changing habits of a wild species. Of the 1,400 or so pairs of breeding pregrines in the UK some 60+ are now known to live on man-made structures. They are increasingly taking advantage of our high rise buildings and relics from our industrial heritage, such as old chimneys and pylons. These sites are ideal for peregrines; they're high-up and surrounded by a bountiful larder full of tasty peregrine snacks, such as pigeons!
Last week I said I'm hoping we'll have 12 breeding pairs of peregrines in London in time for the 2012 Olympics. I cling to that hope but would ask for as much help to achieve this goal as you can give. By adopting wildlife-friendly gardening techniques, you can have a huge impact on the wildlife sharing our Capital. We've lost land 16 times the size of the Olympic development to hard surfacing in the past decade in London. This doesn't include land taken up by development, just gardens lost to decking, patios and car parking spaces. Here are some good reasons for acting now:
See our wildlife gardening pages for more information and advice. Oh, and keep watching the skies. A colleague just told me he saw three hobbies flying over Green Park next to Buckingham Palace last week! It's amazing what you see when you start looking.
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