Over the last few days while I've been at work, there has been some worrying news that Buster has not been seen for a while. The last definite confirmed sighting was Saturday late evening. As the juveniles are so much more active now, it's incredibly hard to determine exactly when he was last seen, and even more difficult considering both George and Buster are about the same size and the only way to truly read their ring numbers for a positive id, is by using a scope. Not an easy task when you cant see their legs, or they're flying around.
As I was off work today, the first thing I did was volunteer in the search for him. I suggested to Nathalie that I check the area around the Ark first, but it was a long shot as we don't think Buster will have travelled that far yet. Nathalie suggested I scan the top of the Harper Collins building in Fulham Palace Road as well, but I accidently went one better. I went into their reception and asked to speak to someone in the maintenance department. My thinking was that I could request a time for Nathalie to attend and be escorted to the roof. Instead I was introduced to Nick Wood, the Building Manager, who was more than happy to stop everything he was doing and take me on to the roof there and then. The pair of us looked all over the roof, but there was no sign of Buster anywhere, nor even any indication he had been there. Nick now has contact details should any of the peregrines be sighted. From the roof top I could see over to the hospital, and it does look like a nice direct route that would appeal to a juvenile peregrine.
From there I made my way down to the hospital and spent a couple of hours watching Tom, Charlie, Amy and George. Several times myself and Patrick, another Fledge-watcher, had all four birds in our sights, and hoped and prayed for a fifth bird to appear, but it didn't happen. We were joined by Nathalie, Mark and Hassim, and still a fifth bird did not appear but Amy and George entertained us a couple of times with a few fly bys and tagging games.
On the 15th floor of the hospital there are some lovely peregrine sympathisers. They let Nathalie and myself on to a flat enclosed roof area, so we could scan the balconys and ledges below for any signs of Buster. We got quite distracted though, as the peregrines decided this would be a great time to carry on play-fighting. We had the most amazing close up views at head level. Sadly the dull grey sky didn't help with any photos we took. All of mine below have had to be greatly lightened. But we weren't there to watch them, we were there to look for Buster. We looked and we looked and we looked. We would have carried on if it wasn't for a staff member who obviously wasn't a peregrine sympathiser, and who took offence to us being there, and asked us to leave.
Did that stop us looking ? Nope. We made our way to the 15th floor again, and walked down the stairs, stopping at every level to check through the windows. Every balcony ledge checked, and still no signs of Buster, though we did have some great close up views of George on the 14th floor (later on Amy also chose to land on the same balcony).
Back down on the ground, we got sightings of Amy and George on the nearby Cliff House, and of Charlie alert calling when a person on the top floor appeared at a window with binoculars. Sadly, despite all the noise and flying around, Buster still did not appear.
It's a good possibility that Buster is not on the hospital at all, but there were still some areas we could not check properly.
So it was a day of mixed emotions. Sad that we could not locate Buster, but in complete awe at such wonderful views of Amy and George flying so strongly and learning all the time.
Charlie. She had been somewhere to have a 'bath'. She was literally dripping water.
Amy coming in to land on the 14th floor balcony.
Amy on the 14th floor.
All the below photos were taken were Nathalie and I were on the flat roof on the top of the hospital. It all happened so quickly that I could not name who each bird is. The photos have also been heavily lightened due to the overcast sky.