Raptor in Royal Park

Raptor in Royal Park
Carol Saffer

Ken Tay, a self-taught amateur photographer, started photographing in Royal Park two to three years ago for two hours of freedom and sanity each day during lockdown.

He was in the car park of the hockey and netball centre recently and noticed all the birds in the surrounding area going crazy.

“They were warning [each other] that there was a predator around,” Mr Tay said.

“It was a Peregrine Falcon on the hunt.”

Peregrine Falcons feed on birdlife, rabbits, and other day-active mammals and fly at speeds of up to 300 km/h, soaring to great heights in search of prey.

Mr Tay said there was a small reserve near the railway station where there were a lot of flowering eucalypts out at the moment.

“There were heaps and heaps of lorikeets in the area, and he was looking for a tasty, sweet snack,” he said.

The falcon perched on the mobile tower nearby and spent a lot of time looking at Mr Tay, before making a pass at him in the car park area.

“On that pass, he was checking me out; they process what they see 200 times per second while humans process 30 times a second,” Mr Tay said.

North Melbourne resident Mr Tay said the falcon’s nesting sites were cliff tops, so they gravitated toward tall buildings.

There were two definite nesting sites nearby, he said.

“One is the Collins St nest, which is very well known.”

Since 1991 a pair of the Peregrine Falcons have roosted on the rooftop of 367 Collins St, with livestreaming CCTV footage available during nesting season.

“The other nesting site is in Niddrie in the old quarry,” Mr Tay said.

As the birds have a flight range from the nest of about 20 to 30 km, both pairs could spend time in Royal Park.

“This bird is a juvenile because the feather pattern and colour are not that of an adult,” Mr Tay said.

“The local twitchers are so excited as there hasn’t been a juvenile spotted in the area before.”

Mr Tay said there had been a pair of Peregrine Falcons roosting, not nesting, in the Flemington flats for quite some time.

One of them was found on the Flemington Racecourse in March.

According to Crime Stoppers, the Conservation Regulator is seeking information about the suspected shooting of a Peregrine Falcon in the Flemington area on Monday, March 25.

Crime Stoppers launched an investigation after a member of the public came across the injured falcon on Flemington Racecourse.
It was taken to a local vet clinic and referred to specialist veterinarians at Melbourne Zoo for assessment.

X-rays showed fractures and possible fragments of shotgun pellets in the deceased bird.

The Peregrine Falcon was euthanised due to the severity of the injuries. The maximum penalty for destroying protected wildlife is $9087 and possibly six months in prison. •


Caption: Photographs by Ken Tay.

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