City slickers of the sky
PUBLISHED: 11:28 23 July 2009 | UPDATED: 17:30 16 August 2010
IT S that time of year again! Regular readers will know that at this time each year I jog their memories about the stunning free wildlife show on offer in London. It stars Misty and Bert , the peregrine falcons who love to loaf on the tower at the Tate M
IT'S that time of year again! Regular readers will know that at this time each year I jog their memories about the stunning free wildlife show on offer in London.
It stars Misty and Bert , the peregrine falcons who love to loaf on the tower at the Tate Modern with their latest brood.
Until September 13 the RSPB will have a watchpoint outside the Tate Modern with binoculars and telescopes available for visitors to see these incredible birds.
RSPB senior events officer Jess Chappell will supervise volunteers like myself ready to offer information or a helping hand adjusting the telescopes.
Misty and Bert raised eight young in the last two years and this year another three rolled off the production line.
They nest on a building in the Barbican area but move the young to the Tate Modern tower which offers a carbon copy of their clifftop natural home with plenty of food nearby like London's abundant pigeons.
Peregrines will take birds in flight from the size of a tiny goldcrest up to a grey heron and this pair have several larders which may be on tall buildings like the Post Office Tower or St Paul's Cathedral.
From the Tate tower the adults frequently take off and show the youngsters how to hunt in a spectacular aerial display which thrills spectators.
The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal on earth with a top recorded speed of 217mph.
There are at least 12 pairs nesting in London and they seem to be spreading.
This summer I've seen individuals on the Crossness Incinerator roof at Abbey Wood and on a chimney across the Thames.
Peregrines can live up to 18 years but fledging is a dangerous time involving first nervous flights from very tall cliffs or buildings.
Fewer than a third reach breeding age at two to three.