After about ten days of clouds, grey and rain, seeing a “luminous sphere” in a blue sky left me somewhat amazed and puzzled. And so, overcoming the fear of the unusual atmospheric phenomenon, I went out for a photo tour. 🙂
As usual so many animals, now more than ever excited in a Nature that finally wakes up, still stealthily after the long winter, almost ready to explode soon: the mere fact of hearing the chirping of birds that breaks the winter silence, made me hope, and believe, that it will not rain forever. Morale rised, like the rebirth of a smile.
And then there it is, my first Peregrine Falcon.
I found it, or rather spotted, in the middle of a plowed field, perfectly camouflaged among the clods of earth but, luckily, in a place where the depth of field behind it made it stand out. Actually, let’s say, I just saw something and, still not sure about what it was, I slowed down, reversed, approached and from the cockpit, through the telephoto lens, I could see that it really was my first specimen of this specie!
This marvellous bird of prey, certainly not imposing in size (length between 34 and 58 cm and a wingspan of 80-120 cm), has the extraordinary ability to reach very high speeds: if it is true that it can “cruise” at over 200 km/h, the Peregrine Falcon can reach the amazing speed of 385 km/h in it’s high-speed dive, and for that it’s the fastest animal ever.
In Sweden this bird has had a very troubled history and has almost risked extinction. Already in ‘20s and ‘30s the population suffered a drastic decrease due to the reckless hunting of pigeon breeders, who saw in the hawk a terrible enemy for their farms. In the ‘50s and ‘60s then, the toxins used in the agricolture, decreased significantly the existing population:: the poisons, in fact, made the eggs so thin and delicate to make them even break during incubation.
Luckily, in the mid ‘70s the Peregrine Falcon Project was born to safeguard and protect the only 15 pairs of surviving hawks in Sweden. As a first action the project made everything possible to try to preserve this specie from toxins such as PCBs, DDT and mercury that were still released in nature. In 1987, then, 30 couples were taken to a breeding station just outside Gothenburg: the operation became so successful that in 1997 around 400 cubs were released.
Since then the Peregrine Falcon has been divided into two distinct groups: the first, which lives in the Nörrland, that is the region located in the north-central area that covers 59% of the Swedish territory, while the second has settled in south-western Sweden . Little by little the other territories are now also being colonised.
In Skåne, however, it has had a hard life and, over the years, some pairs of hawks have been found dead, either by direct poisoning, or by the poisoning of pigeons, which remain among the prey preferred by this raptor. I could not find out info about the current population settled in this region, but it seems to be growing slightly, thanks to the work of the Project too.
Having seen one, my first Peregrine Falcon, and having discovered where it nests and lives is therefore an exceptional fact. I stayed to photograph it and admire it quite a bit, sometime we looked at each other, while all around us was peaceful and quite in the sun that, slowly, was putting an end to an astonishing day. Then, evidently fed up with my presence, he took off and quickly disappeared on the horizon.
The smile then really exploded in me! So it’s true, I thought: after a dark period, we can only expect that great things will happen…