Over the last decade Peregrines have been recorded frequenting the Newbury BT Exchange building since 2008, by numerous observers; most sightings were in the winter.
However, on the 1st April this year Sarah White observed an pair of Peregrines on the building. Sarah and Ken White visited again on the 12th April and concluded from their behaviour that the pair was showing clear signs that breeding was well under way. The pair were observed mating, and the male was seen bringing prey items to her as well as chasing off intruders such as crows and buzzards. Ken also noticed from his photos that the male was bearing a coded colour-ring, but getting a photo that was sharp and clear enough to read took another 4 days. Poor visibility, ruffled breast feathers and the join on the ring all got in the way. Eventually all was revealed: ‘Black 69’. Using the www.cr-birding.org website, the coded colour-ringing scheme appeared to be run by Graham Roberts who rings Peregrines reared on Chichester Cathedral with black rings, though the actual numbers on the male bird at Newbury where higher. None the less, Ken sent the report in, and by return came back the reply that Black 69 was indeed one of Graham Robert’s chicks, which had been ringed on the 16th May 2016 as a nestling, and that this was the first report of this bird since it fledged nearly 3 years ago. One wonders where this bird has been since then !
Ken and Sarah White immediately contacted Alan Parfitt, a stalwart and experienced RSPB volunteer, and together they approached and informed BT staff who assurred them that the nesting Peregrines would not be disturbed.
On 14th May, Ken wrote:
“We visited the Newbury Peregrines yesterday afternoon. Mrs Newbury was desperate for the male Black 69 to return with a meal. She was clearly getting quite het up. She sat on the ledge next to the nest looking for him. Then she flew in ascending arcs around the building looking for him I’m sure.We’ve never seen her go further away than 60 metres from the building but eventually she went off like an Exocet in a NE direction and intercepted the male coming back with the meal. It was dramatic. She dived at him but he dodged and dived to avoid her, it was almost like a dog fight. He stubbornly flew back to the building with her in hot pursuit….she could have had him for dinner if she wanted, her powered flight clearly superior to his. They disappeared around the other side of the BT building out of site, but 10 minutes later he appeared on the ledge with the ready-prepared meal and she rather impatiently took it with her beak from his feet, so keen was she to have it. We had to leave because of the 2 hour parking limit, and were unable to see if she took it down to the nesting area as she did 2 days ago. !!!
The following links to Ken White’s web albums are best viewed on a computer.