Category Archives: peregrine falcon

Back from the text books

On Thursday morning, I had my last A Level exam. Meaning that I have officially finished school. After spending the last two years pushing and shoving myself through lessons and to commit to my A Levels, this is a huge relief and incredibly exciting. I’m now looking forward to not only what the next few months will hold, but what I’ll be doing post-school.

Over the last few months, I’ve felt as though I’ve been very quiet. Thus, I’ve felt quite guilty about this. Very few and no regular blog posts or writing elsewhere, spending fewer and fewer hours a week on my local patch as the weeks went by and the constant pressure to give up doing the things I love doing to stick my head in text books for hours on end instead. Although this was the ‘necessary’ thing to do so that I could succeed in my revision, pressure so bad that you have to give up what you enjoy doing altogether has its toll. However, it’s all over and hopefully the struggle will have paid off.

On the other hand, I strongly believe that exam results don’t represent anyone’s true intelligence or what they’re capable of achieving. This is a key lesson that I’ve learnt over the last two years. All the information that I retained in my lessons will never match what I’ve learnt when I’ve been out birding, using trail cameras or out walking. If you ask me a question related to what was in my English exam on Thursday in a month’s time, I could almost guarantee that I won’t have a clue what the answer is. Something that reflects this is my predicted grades. In English, I’ll be lucky if I get a C grade, however in a project I completed as part of an AS level (known as an Extended Project Qualification) about the impacts of Nature Deficit Disorder, I’m predicted to get an A grade. The difference being, although I enjoyed English as a subject, I was forced to retain information that may appear in my exam but for my EPQ, I wrote about something that really interests me.

However, I couldn’t keep myself completely absent from everything over the last few months. For a starter, I’ve been practising for my 191-mile trek that I’m doing next month to raise some cash for the BTO’s swift project. Practising has been a great excuse to take a break from my revision, get some exercise and spend some quality time outdoors. From cycling the lanes close to where I live in Staffordshire to long distance practise walks every few weekends. And since the beginning of May, these outings were made even more delightful by the accompaniment of swifts.

So far, I’ve raised over £1000, which I’m thrilled about. This cash will go towards funding the BTO’s swift project, which includes tagging and monitoring them to find out the reasons for the decline that we’ve seen in recent years. It’s incredibly important work. You can read more or support my walk by clicking here.

A momentary moment for me in the last few months, which I didn’t get the chance to blog about at the time, was voting for the first time! Some may remember my multiple blog posts around the time of the EU referendum last year and the 2015 General Election. I wrote about how the way in which the country voted was important when it came to future protection of the natural environment. I also wrote about my disappointment in not having a voice due to not being able to vote. The argument to be able to vote at 16 is a very valid one. Although many believe that young people are either not educated enough about politics or simply don’t care enough to make the right decision, I think after the results of the recent General Election, young people are beginning to prove those who doubted them wrong.

I was pleased with the result too. It was a rare occasion as I felt positive. After losing her majority, Theresa May’s attempt to repeal the Hunting Act has now been torn apart and with rising popularity of the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn, it gives a glimmer of hope as the end of the Tory government and chaos might be within reach. This could spell the end to the badger cull, bring better protection for the environment post-Brexit and bring in a government that understands and realises the importance of the natural world. Unlike last week’s events when Michael Gove was made secretary for the environment. A man who believes that environmental protection is a nuisance, attempted to remove climate change education from the curriculum whilst he was secretary for education and doesn’t see a problem with pesticides.

In the run up to the General Election, I did manage to attend a few rallies and demonstrations. A few weeks before the General Election, there was a debate on the badger cull following the success of Simon King’s petition that reached over 100,000 signatures. Although it was certain that the result of the debate was unlikely to bring any positive change, I was desperate to make it down to London so that I could join others outside the Houses of Parliament before the debate began. Unfortunately, the attendance of ministers and MPs was as it was expected to be, very poor. As was any ‘debating’ or any outcome. Following the overall uncertainty in the UK and for the government over the last few months, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens with the cull this year. A few months back, it looked as though it was going to be the worst cull yet with further cull zones across the UK and more freedom for land owners. However, recent events and challenges facing the government could force them to change their minds.

Another interesting march I went on was one of the ‘March for Science’ events that were taking place across the world. The one I attended was in Bristol. It was another excellent day and I was surrounded by passionate individuals fighting for the sake of science and in response to recent actions and comments made by certain individuals, in particular, Donald Trump.

After the success of my peregrine watch at Lichfield Cathedral last year, I decided that it would be wrong not to repeat the events this year. Thus, I put a poster together, sorted some dates and managed to get hold of some optics. This was all with the help of some lovely local birders. We organised three mornings in total, all of which were very successful with many coming to have a look. We were also treated with some brilliant views of the birds. I absolutely loved being out doing these watches. It was brilliant to engage with people who had no idea about the birds being there. But when we told them what they were and after they had a look through the scope, the look on their faces was the best!

Unfortunately, I won’t be in Lichfield to do the watch events at the cathedral next year but I’m sure that they will be taken over by others. This is because I’ll be a student at Hull University from September. Those who know me fairly well will be aware that a reason why I’m so excited to go to Hull is because I’ll be within stones throwing distance of one of my favourite places in the world, Spurn. Whilst taking my exams and during times of intense studying, I spent a lot of time at Spurn. I could revise, take very effective breaks and enjoy decent bouts of birding. On my last trip, a week before my exams started, I had one of the craziest days ever. From sat at a desk revising for my English exam, I walked a matter of steps and saw my first Honey Buzzard! My reward for a mornings hard work.

Now my exams are all over, I have a lot planned over the summer. In fact, whilst writing this post I was on the overnight ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick, Shetland on the way to my first stop: Fair Isle. Where I was supposed to arrive this afternoon but due to weather conditions, I won’t be able to get there until Monday at the earliest. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to exploring Shetland, where I’m currently ‘stranded’, tomorrow.

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Triple figures for magic pair

I thought it would only be right to do a follow up blog post after Saturdays peregrine watch at Lichfield Cathedral.

For the best part of a year now I’ve thought about planning some sort of event celebrating these wonderful birds, my favourite bird, which are calling my local city centre their home. After a lot of umming and ahhing, and a few failed attempts of trying to contact people, I finally brought it all together. Someone I asked for advice on how to get it going was a local person, Kate Gomez, who basically just told me to just go ahead and do it!

And I’m really glad I did. My initial thought on why to do it was after watching the birds at the cathedral for the first time last year, and it occurred to me about those that don’t know these birds are here. Just ordinary people walking past the cathedral or through the town and have little idea that these fantastic birds are soaring right over their heads. The worlds fastest animal somehow intertwined into our day to day lives, the least we can do is simply appreciate this!

By 10 o’clock there was a good gathering of about ten to twenty people gazing up onto the cathedral desperately scanning for a bird. Then there one was. The female circling around the base of one of the spires. I let out a sigh of relief but I’m not sure why because I knew these fantastic birds would perform and inspire anyone who came along. As the hour went on, numbers increased until at one point there must have been about forty people spread along The Close with their eyes fixed on the cathedral. Not only this but they were sharing small anecdotes about the pair. This included whether or not they’d seen them before, knew they were here, or wondered what the strange noise was which echoed across the town!

Some were there with lenses as long as my arm getting simply amazing shots, others had their expensive binoculars, others didn’t, and some came who were complete amateurs and wanted to see what it was all about. Also, with us standing in such a public place we had a lot of passers-by and tourists asking what we were looking at. An American tourist I spoke to was fascinated and could not believe his eyes when he watched the male bird fly over.

Everyone’s reactions were very positive, a part from the few who were a bit put off about the headless pigeon the male peregrine brought in! One man told me his friend was walking past the other day and half a pigeon nearly fell on his head! A highlight of the morning had to be when the male, who had been gone for almost an hour, flew in with the headless pigeon. He squawked whilst circling the front of the cathedral a few times then went into the nest. As he did so, we could hear the chicks squabbling inside. It was magical.

Numerous people came up to me and said they’d be back as they loved the experience. They’d been mind blown! Over the two hours we estimated 150 people came and went away with some fantastic views. All of these now having a new understanding of these incredible birds and they’ll hopefully pass this on. Who would of thought, this well known three spired Cathedral would be appreciated and enjoyed for its job mimicking a cliff face to provide these city slickers with a place to breed.

Keep an eye out for the next watch morning date!

A big thank you to The Sound Approach for the scopes too!

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A ‘back of the camera’ image took of an image someone who came to the watch on

Saturday morning took.