Thursday, 4 February 2016

A recce around Heathrow for the elusive Peregrines

Last June I went on a recce around Heathrow (link to that days blog post) with Nathalie, the Fulham and Barnes Peregrines 'Godmother'. We had just one brief sighting on that day but saw plenty of signs of Pere poop on the buildings and hangars.
To really confirm there are Peregrines in the area we needed to go back when courtship is starting which is around about now. So that's what we did today.
Unfortunately no visible sightings of any Peregrines, but we did get the next best calling from either the roof of a building or behind a building, it was hard to say exactly where.
As we were making our way down the Eastern Perimeter Road looking on how to see behind the buildings within the fenced area, we were stopped by an unmarked car full of Police. Two of them got out to question us. Were we Protesters they asked. Nathalie and I just laughed. We explained what we were doing and they seemed to believe us, although they did eventually take down our names and addresses, and took one of my blog cards away as 'evidence'......
An hour later we were stopped again just off Envoy Avenue by British Airways Authorities, but they were much more interested when we told them what we were doing and even confirmed the Peregrines were often seen on the airfield. They also suggested next time we do a recce that we contact Heathrow first and obtain permits. They also took one of my blog cards.
So hopefully later today, both the Police and the BA Authorities will be reading my blog post.
Hi guys !
Apart from those 'exciting' incidents, we heard no more Peregrines calling nor saw any today, so another trip is in order for middle-late March.
It wasn't all in vain today though. On one of the grassy patches close to the Perimeter Roads, was lots of leaf rosettes and each one had been marked by a yellow, red or blue 'dot'.....

I took some close up shots....

and when I got home I put them on the Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland Facebook group and within minutes the very knowledgeable Rob Large confirmed that these are in fact the rosettes of the Bee Orchid.
Because of their delicacy and the fact not every rosette will flower, I'm keeping the location secret for a while, and will check the site again in June.
But what a find ! I've known from Adam Chessman's reports that Bee Orchids have been found at Heathrow before, but that was in an area not open to the public.
Fingers crossed there is a good show in June.
Elsewhere we spotted a Kestrel in exactly the same place as we'd seen an adult and three juveniles last June....

and apart from four Redwings, a couple of Goldfinches, a pair of Long-Tailed Tits, plenty of Wood and feral Pigeons, we also saw a few Pied Wagtails which was the only other bird, apart from the distant Kestrel, that I managed to photograph today.......

It was a good mornings stroll, and we didn't cover the whole of the airport. Maybe on the next recce we should expand our search area a little.


  1. Interesting read.... I used to spend a lot of time at Heathrow when I was more into plane spotting and back then we used to rarely get questioned by the police or staff sounds like (as expected) they have much tougher security. Never heard of them suggesting permits in advance before though, I imagine they may do same for plane spotters. Surprised though to hear that peregrines would be nesting/flying in areas so close to flight paths of such a busy airport. Look forward to hearing more about the Bee Orchids.

  2. Thanks Kish.
    The Peregrines have been nesting over Heathrow for at least the last ten years. The old, now retired, Warden at Cranford Park used to see them regularly. If you have a look at my blog post for June 21st 2015, you'll see some more information about them. BA themselves have admitted Peregrines have nested in one of their hangars before.
    There's plenty of food available and a Peregrines territory is large which would explain why we've seen them over Hayes Town and over Heathrow Bus Station in the past.
    Hopefully I will have a better update in March