There has been a family of peregrine falcons living in a Qantas hangar at Sydney airport for decades, it appears, but not until this week has there ever been a problem. An aircraft worker has been attacked and quite possibly permanently blinded after being swooped (that’s the really bad news). A number of media outlets reported the incident but I’ve included The Guardian newspaper’s version as it shows more photos (apologies for the extra rubbish ads and the fact it’s The Guardian; I know some people hate it!!).
I find it amusing that a union member has decided it’s suddenly an “unsafe work environment”, after all this time! The more appropriate approach should have been to warn staff (as they should during every breeding season) of the possibility that the adults will protect their eyrie. The occurrence of magpie attacks in Australia is FAR more prevalent, and in total more damaging, on an annual basis. The difference between a magpie attack and a peregrine attack is that you can hear a magpie coming!! Methinks QANTAS are also jealous there’s a faster creature than some of their planes!!
This is a timely reminder that anyone who wants to go check out the peregrines up the water tower at Orange campus during their breeding season (i.e. Aug-Nov) needs to be alert to exceedingly fast flying objects – wear a sturdy hat, just in case.
Nailed it – the chat room is now up on the nest cam feed. Apologies for the extended time to get it running. We’ll appoint moderators ASAP.
This evening, at CSU campus Orange, we are privileged to be hosting a talk by Dr Zubair Medammel from the University of Calicut in Kerala, India, who’s passion is the study of peregerines and other falcon species. We thank Dr Zubair for taking the great time and effort to visit Orange. A good crowd of about 35-40 turned up for a walk around the tower with Dr Kinross, before light nibbles and the talk.Really interesting to compare characteristics between peregrines on the sub-continent (migratory between Mongolia and Africa), and the native Australian Peregrinus macropus here.
Thanks, Cilla, for all your organisation and time to get Dr Zubair to Orange!
Apologies for the long wait; it made these two CSU-based camera pages redundant, but they’re fixed now, and both test OK (you may need to refresh your browser window). There may be a solution to ensure that if there’s a stoppage again, both feeds will come back automatically; stay tuned….. It’s all quiet up the Concrete Hilton this week, and at last the temperatures are moving back to normal for this time in the late summer. Large fires further north from here are worrying (as are north Queensland’s major flooding issues & horrific stock losses), and a dust storm blew over Orange yesterday but everything is operational today, including, hopefully 2 adult falcons and a couple of youngsters! Welcome to the globally-warmed modern Australia!!
[ Text taken from an email sent out today from The Peregrine Fund, Boise Idaho ]
Founding Chairman (The Peregrine Fund)
On a spring day in 1980, Dr. Tom Cade climbed into a Peregrine Falcon nest box on top of a release tower in Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey. Just a couple of years earlier, Tom’s team of biologists and falconers had bred, raised, and released the falcon pair that now raised their own family on this tower. These two birds were part of a nationwide recovery program for the species.
Peregrine Falcon populations had declined drastically in the 1950s and ‘60s due to the widespread use of DDT – a pesticide that interfered with calcium metabolism and caused birds to lay very thin-shelled eggs that would crack during incubation. By 1970, Peregrine Falcons were extinct in the eastern United States and fewer than 40 pairs were estimated to remain in the west. Dr. Cade, an ornithologist and lifelong falconer, was acutely aware of this decline and worked with others across the nation to ban the use of DDT and develop a recovery plan for our nation’s fastest animal.
Tom marked one of the proudest moments of his career atop that tower in the spring of 1980. That’s when he discovered three young nestlings—some of the first Peregrine chicks produced in the wild in eastern North America since the 1950s. Looking back on the day, Tom recalled, “I then understood that recovery of the Peregrine would be an accomplished fact in a few more years.”
He was right. In August of 1999, Tom stood on stage with then-Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt to officially declare that the Peregrine Falcon was recovered in North America and had been removed from the Endangered Species List. To this day, it’s considered among the greatest conservation success stories of all time – Tom would refer to it as an effort of “teamwork and tenacity.”
In saving the Peregrine, Tom co-founded a non-profit conservation organization to effectively manage the financial support being offered by the public. Called The Peregrine Fund, this organization grew to become much more than he originally envisioned, and over the past five decades has worked with more than 100 species in 65 countries worldwide. Many species such as the Mauritius Kestrel, Northern Aplomado Falcon, several species of Asian Vultures, California Condor, and more are thriving today because of work The Peregrine Fund and its many partners have undertaken.
Dr. Tom Cade passed away today at age 91 years.
“The world of wildlife conservation has lost a pioneer and champion today,” said The Peregrine Fund’s President and CEO, Dr. Rick Watson. “Tom fought for Peregrines and practical conservation solutions, and mentored generations of passionate individuals. His reach extended around the globe to inspire raptor research and conservation on virtually every continent and on behalf of hundreds of species.”
“While we are devastated by his passing, we are uplifted knowing his legacy lives on in this organization, and among his many students, friends, followers, and supporters. We’re grateful Tom continued to travel, write, practice falconry, and visit with the staff up until his last days. His advice, conviction, and gentle presence will be sorely missed.”
“Our thoughts are with Tom’s wife and devoted partner, Renetta, and their children and grandchildren in this time of loss.”
Since his first ornithological survey of St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea in 1950, Tom’s passion for natural history and his professional career spanned nearly seventy years. It involved teaching at Syracuse University and Cornell Lab of Ornithology in New York, post-doctoral research on desert birds and raptors in southern Africa, starting the Peregrine breeding program at Cornell University, co-founding and leading The Peregrine Fund, and researching the critically endangered Mauritius Kestrel.
The Board and staff of The Peregrine Fund mourn the loss of their co-founder and mentor, one of the world’s most visionary conservationists and widely respected scientists, Professor Tom Cade.”
“On behalf of the crew at FalconCam Project, I wish to extend our condolences to Dr Tom Cade’s family, friends, and The Peregrine Fund, and acknowledge the tireless work by Dr Cade in helping to bring peregrine falcons back to North America, and to a much better understanding of peregrine falcons and the environment around us all. We can all take inspiration from Dr Cade and his decades of energy and leadership.”
Scott Banks, FalconCam Project, Orange NSW
This week Australia is being stung by an almost country-wide heatwave, in many places reaching above 40degC+ (104degF+) for the whole week. It means treacherous conditions for all birds of prey, who will no doubt rest during the heat of the day and then try to hunt earlier and later. Orange is west-north-west of Sydney by about 4-5 hours (in the dark red bit!!).
Tough weather for humans, but much tougher for the animals, birds and poor livestock, who are already in a terrible state of drought. We’ll monitor the falcons closely this week. I haven’t been able to update the CSU camera pages yet, with apologies; my CSU login has been cancelled due to a change in other work contracts via CSU, which shouldn’t have affected my login anyway! As soon as I have access back again I’ll go change the camera URLs. In the meantime you can refer to the previous post for YouTube feeds….
The recent YouTube glitches have caused some headaches but both of our feeds are still streaming, albeit on different URLs. Each time a YouTube live feed stops the re-start changes its URL, which isn’t great for our camera pages as both feeds have now re-set! Due to my CSU account being closed temporarily (temp contract renewals etc) I haven’t had access into the CSU camera pages to change the live URLs posted therein. Once access has been regained I’ll head in and update both camera pages to the following:
With a few brief thunderstorms this week, and corresponding brief rain moments, the place is looking a little greener, although we’re bound to be heading back into extreme temperatures again soon. Not great hunting weather for the peregrines, which has to change hours to dusk and dawn when it’s not so hot and birdlife is out having fun.
A Happy New Year to all our viewers and supporters. Thanks for your awesome support across 2018. The peregrine family appreciate you all and if they could write letters everyone would receive one in the post (ironically via carrier pigeon, if they get through!).
It’s been an incident-filled year, with some highlights and some glitches (as always). The peregrines themselves have participated in some great vision and sound for us, but our hardware has proved to be an issue, with the internal surveillance server software still a problem (appears to be a permissions thing inside the CSU network; hard to fix/hack).
The two live feeds piped out from the eyrie via YouTube have been a real highlight, with some great software from CamStreamer being used to solve a number of problems, and upgrade our output. Long may this technology work!! We have some big upgrades planned for FalconCam Project in 2019, but we won’t be losing any of our archive data or photos.
However, YouTube themselves had an eventful December and ruined quite a few live feeds across the world. Our two feeds stuttered for a while. Fortunately, the ledge camera feed is fine but the nest camera feed will need to be reset, once I can get into the CSU office to modify the CSU webpage links. For now, you can access the nest camera feed below. When YouTube stops and starts feeds it changes the URL for some unexplained reason?? Once access is gained to the CSU camera pages I’ll add this link into the nest cam page as well:
It has come to our attention that there are occasional current issues with the YouTube live camera feeds. I’ve received an email from one of our camera software providers who has noticed it as well. Apparently the problem lies inside YouTube. They’re apparently shutting off live feeds by accident! The software people are on to YouTube about it and hopefully there’ll be a solution soon. Lucky it’s a quiet time of the year for us (up the Concrete Hilton anyway). With much hotter days here now the falcons are more likely to hide away from the heat should still be active thereabouts. We’re lucky that the local subspecies isn’t a migratory type, so we can enjoy them all year round.
Christmas to everyone!!
This morning one of the two fledglings mysteriously appeared at the window to the CSU Orange campus Learning Commons. Wary of people walking past but also quite tolerant, and no-one disturbed the personal space. It’s not often peregrines venture this close to humans! It’s a rainy day so it was a great spot under the eaves to stay dry, but has now flown off. An unidentified adult was watching from up on the soaking wet tower overhead but there was no cause for alarm. The lightning storm above Orange last night didn’t affect campus power, nor the peregrines.
Yes, you heard me right. In a unique occurrence for YouTube they are experiencing some form of global outage, so our feeds won’t be working. And I was just sending the URLs to a contact to check them out, and thought I’d broken something! YouTube will let us know when they’re fixed. In the meantime please enjoy our intermission 1960’s elevator music……..
FYI both chicks are currently snoozing after a short feed earlier. We’ll wake them up again once YouTube is back!
(Ed. – YouTube may be back, but tentatively…. AEST 2.00pm)