Monday, 11 May 2020

Phil's Blog - 11 May
5 or 6 or 7 or 8 square meals a day

Phil's Blog - 11 May

I've been bumped by Boris! BBC Points West have just recorded an interview with me which, when we arranged it on Friday was for broadcasting this evening. Unfolding information regarding the lockdown will now take precedence so hopefully the piece will now be on Wednesday, just as you're having your tea. I wonder if they'll splice in a clip of feeding time up on the Tower?

One thing I can guarantee, however, is that tuning into the peregrine webcam will be a million times more entertaining! Our four chicks are growing fast; this is the busiest time for the falcon & tiercel (Mum & Dad). They need to be fast, accurate, clinically efficient hunters. Evolution has produced a master of the skies, a predator at the top of the food chain with the speed and talons to catch its prey and a hooked bill to tear flesh from bone.

Although feral pigeons are a regular choice on the menu, our peregrines have, over the years, displayed an eclectic palate and thus an obvious ability to chase down a wide variety of species. These include: starling, blackbird, song thrush, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, black-headed gull, swift, jackdaw, jay, water rail, woodcock and kingfisher. Impressive.

I find watching feeding time fascinating. And clearly so do many more people this year. The lockdown has given people the time to connect with nature; reports suggest a huge increase in people birdwatching. We have certainly seen a massive increase in people tuning into the webcam. Some stats: comparing page visits with the same period last year (1 April-11 May) there has been a 700% increase, that's 200,000 visits! Data shows that there have been around 50,000 repeat visits to the website in the last month to follow the fortunes of our peregrines. Indeed 4,200 people visited the site yesterday - at 4pm there were 516 simultaneous viewers!

What will you be watching this evening? Click the link to "tune in".

Phil Sheldrake