Satellite Tracking

Peregrine falcons breed in all parts of the Scottish Highlands but have become scarcer in recent decades. These inland breeders generally disperse in the non-breeding season because much of their prey has also left the inland areas of the Highlands. Ringing has revealed some of their movements but satellite tracking would greatly increase our knowledge of how the young birds disperse and how they live in their juvenile years.  The present knowledge from ringing shows that adults, especially males, often stay near the breeding site in winter, with females making short distance movements to low ground and coastal estuaries, whereas the young can disperse wide and far in their first year of life.

Photo by Peter Cairns

In 2010 we started a peregrine falcon satellite tracking programme in conjunction with the Cairngorms National Park.  These are the first peregrine falcons that we have satellite tracked and it was fascinating watching them range further and further from the eyrie, once they had flown. The data from the transmitters showed how they came back to the nest cliff to collect food from their parents and to roost at night. As far as I know these are the first peregrines to be satellite tracked in the UK.

I decided to call the two female peregrine chicks Freya and Vega, after the female peregrines in Ewan Clarkson’s classic “In the Shadow of the Falcon”. It has a history for me as well because I was involved in the making of the BBC TV film of the same name by David Cobham in 1976.  In 2011 we tagged another two chicks; Aspen and Rowan.

Click on the links on the left to view details of the chicks’ movements.

The radios are expensive, costing £3000 each, and for the data for each bird we pay a monthly charge to CLS Argos, approximately £750 per year. We hope to satellite tag another three peregrines across the Highlands this year and donations would be very welcome for this and future projects. To donate, please click here: