Monday, 1 March 2010

New Season Update

Updated 03 March (see end)

Spring is nearly upon us. With reports of peregrines already mating in the south of England, our own pair here in Derby are also showing clear signs of getting ready for this year's breeding season.

Already we are seeing courtship displays on the nest ledge. This involves both birds standing absolutely still on the nest platform, heads bowed down and facing each other. This may last for three or more minutes, and is often accompanied by a loud "ee-chupp, ee-chupp" call from the female. The multi-image shot on the left shows the female standing in the nest scrape just a few days ago, with the male standing on the right hand side. They were motionless. Unfortunately the pictures are a little misty, but we've since cleaned the lenses. And here's a clip from the 2008 season that we recorded to show you what happens.




The male always seems to lose his nerve in the end. After some minutes of head-bowing (or aggressive-sounding "ee-chupping") he flees the nest ledge, leaving her all alone. There she may pick at a few stones or, more frequently, may indulge in some nest-scraping . She will lie down on the ground and push back with her feet to create the hollow scrape in which her eggs will later be laid. All the images of the female in the series below were captured just a few days ago, on 24th February.


Food may also be brought back to the nest by the male, which he then passes to his larger mate, and we're receiving reports from webcam viewers that this is being seen too.

With the weather finally warming up, Nick Brown and I took the opportunity today to do some last minute spring-cleaning. This meant notifying the police before I made a quick abseil down from the top of the tower to the nest ledge where the cameras were cleaned and everything made ready for the new season. We also took the opportunity to help Derby Cathedral by cleaning out their gutters and even discovered a few minor roof maintenance issues which we'll be reporting back to them. It was less than an hour after we'd left the roof that the birds returned to claim the Cathedral platform as their own.

With the season advancing rapidly, do look out for mating. This happens very frequently through March, right up to the day of egg-laying towards the end of the month. Passers-by in Derby may be lucky to witness this for themselves, but webcam watchers also stand a good chance of seeing something. Our birds do seem to like the tower top in front of our camera, and over the last two years we've captured some stunning moments which are archived on this blog.

Have you seen a special moment you'd like to share? If so, leave a comment on this blog, or hit print-screen on your PC and post us the image. You can put them on our Flickr Photo Pool where over a 1000 images were uploaded by viewers last season.

We'll bring you more stills and videos as the season progresses, and hope you'll stay with us to share once again all the intimate moments of these very special birds' lives.
The number of hits we've had since the beginning of the year (now close on 50,000) is more than double last year's figure by the same time (19,000) and quadruple the 2008 figure (11,000)....due mainly to the world first 'night hunting video' which newcomers can still see by scrolling down to the post of 11th January....
The BBC's Springwatch programme has recently been requesting video clips of our birds so we are optimistic these may be shown in future....we'll keep you informed.

Update: In an attempt to resolve the problem of our video server freezing up every few months, Axis (the manufacturers of our video server) have recommended that we set our sytem to cease uploading to the internet for a short period each day. Being British, I've selected a time of 3am for our webcams to close for 15 minutes.  Sorry if this affects you as a world-wide viewer. I'll happily change the time we break - I just don't know when is best for minimum disruption. (All suggestions welcome)

Nick M
Derby Museum & Art Gallery

60 comments:

Phoebe said...

That is good news, I am glad the peregrines are going to use this nest again, they know which side ther bread is buttered.

I did see the falcon in the gravel scratching about a few days back now. Can't wait for the season to start, as I missed the egglaying and hatching last year.

Thanks for the report, I will keep my eyes open

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

Thanks, Phoebe.
I'd not realised you'd missed much of the events from 2009. Hope you catch all the live action this year.
The 2009 video highlights are stil watchable here: http://bit.ly/cAXfKC

Rgeards
Nick M
Derby Museums & Art Gallery

denden said...

Will it be possible for official?photographers to describe their cameras,lenses,settings,etc.this year?

Pax Canada said...

@Nick, 3am sounds good for me, I think giving up 15mins will be worth it to avoid the cams going down at a crucial time, by the way the clocks here in N. America go ahead on March 14th, a little earlier then yours.

Karen Anne said...

I don't think 15 minutes is going to bother anybody, unless a chickie starts to hatch at that time :-)

Thanks again to everyone involved for the work that you do.

Anonymous said...

From the top of a building in a city where there are many Peregrines, I blogged

( But on my corner up high I perch alone. Now I’m a raptor. I’m battle upgraded, twitchy, sociopathic and running an ultra-rapid pulse and I’m meticulously observant of plus or minus scenarios and I’m completely in the present moment. Only kill/no kill criteria register. I feel nothing else.

And I am also a gargoyle on that corner, waiting frozen in the stone, and silently and without acknowledgment from even the rain I bow to total loss.)

http://materialoutcomes.wordpress.com/

Karen Anne said...

It looks like a lovely, sunny day in Derby. A lot better than freezing my toes off here in New England, wondering if Spring will ever come ;-)

The animals must be feeling a winter food shortage here, as it's like Grand Central Station at my deck feeders at night, esp. the peanut feeder. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, often more than one species at a time, but relatively well-behaved towards each other.

Phoebe said...

There's a wonderful close-up of an adult preening on the towe-cam!
10:23 Friday Morning

Phoebe said...

Me again, the bird up top is the tiercel I think, he is still there whilst the falcon sitting on the nest ledge. A lovey view of both.

AnnieF. said...

One on the nestbox ledge rhs - female?

AnnieF. said...

... and another up on the tower.

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

It has indeed been a lovely few days here in Derby City recently. The nights and mornings have been cold and still, but the sun has warmed everything it has touched.
Up on the Cathedral tower this morning, as has already been reported, both male and female peregrine were sitting passively. Returning from a meeting at The Silk Mill museum, I took the chance to nip up the tower and browse quickly through the last few days of tower-cam recordings. As yet there doesn't appear to have been any mating moments, but we'll keep watching as it probably won't be much longer now. (8th March was the earliest recorded last season)

AnnieF. said...

One preening on the nestbox ledge lhs.

AnnieF. said...

Still there...

AnnieF. said...

One just arrived on the nestbox ledge, lhs.

AnnieF. said...

It's still there, having a leisurely preen at the moment.

AnnieF. said...

One each end of the nestbox. Both are crouched down & they're facing each other. It almost looks like they're bowing or lowering their heads to each other.

AnnieF. said...

The female has just spent several minutes in the nest side of the nestbox, re-arranging things by the look of it and crouching down in that shallow round depression, just as if she were testing it out for size/depth/comfort.

Helen said...

Peregrine on the tower plucking and eating prey. Wonder if it has just been caught?

AnnieF. said...

One just arrived on the tower with prey, could be a pigeon.

AnnieF. said...

Gone! And so has the prey I think. I wasn't watching so not sure.

AnnieF. said...

One on the nestbox ledge, rhs. A glorious day, such blue sky!

AnnieF. said...

I think it's the female on the nestbox ledge rhs but unless they're together I can't really tell which is which.

AnnieF. said...

Large peregrine, probably female, IN the nestbox, rhs.

AnnieF. said...

... and one up on the tower.

John B (not the sloop) said...

Both present at 07:52 this morning. Female on the nest scrape, male at the opposite end

AnnieF. said...

There's been a peregrine on the nestbox ledge rhs for about the last 40 minutes. Waiting for a bus???

AnnieF. said...

Female, I think, scraping in the nestbox.

AnnieF. said...

Now she's busy in the other side.

AnnieF. said...

Just taking a break from cleaning the bathroom (oh joy!) and seeing both peregrines, one by the tower cam and one in the nestbox, rhs

AnnieF. said...

One on the nestbox ledge lhs and one on the tower.

Sue in Bucks (Scout) said...

Hey everyone
An update on the "Sussex Heights" (Brighton) story. It seems that essential maintenance is needed on the building. There were initial concerns about the attitude of the management but all appears to be well. They are taking expert advice and are well aware of their legal duties. The maintenance will be postponed this season and the box will not be (temporarily) moved until the birds will not be disturbed. An explanitory letter from the management is available here http://www.sussexheights.org/wp/category/peregrine-falcons/

Phoebe said...

I see an adult on the corbels below the nest on left hand side, possibly the falcon.

@sue
Good news for now on the brighton nest!

mark murfin said...

ferrel pigeon brought on to ledge at 1607 after courtship display on the box. mark murfin

AnnieF. said...

A large peregrine on the ledge, possibly with small prey.

Anonymous said...

No peregrines visible but a tiny bird with a pale breast is moving about just below the central strap in the nest platform - not enough detail to identify it.

Kate in Derby

AnnieF. said...

Cameras seem to be stuck at 12.20.52.

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

@AnnieF. Thanks for letting me know. I've rebooted the video server, so hopefully it will run OK again.
Nick M. 1.05pm.

AnnieF. said...

@ Project Member, Derby Museum

It's working perfectly now, thanks. I did wonder whether it was my pc, as it's been a bit "tired & emotional" recently!

AnnieF. said...

@ Project Member, Derby Museum

It's working perfectly now, thanks. I did wonder whether it was my pc, as it's been a bit "tired & emotional" recently!

AnnieF. said...

Peregrine right up close to the tower cam - quite scary!

Karen Anne said...

Peregrine near the pudding cam.

Pax Canada said...

one on the ledge below the nest

spyinthesky said...

Does anyone feel, as I do, slightly uncomfortable about the intrusiveness of nest cams.

AnnieF. said...

@ spyinthesky
Only very slightly. On balance the advantages, e.g.monitoring the progress of breeding pairs and their young after the decimation of last century, and the brilliant educational tool they provide for youngsters, seem to me to outweigh any disadvantages. So long as the peregrines aren't worried - and they seem quite unconcerned - I'm in favour.

Anonymous said...

I can still see movement at the front of the tray, so I suspect what I thought was a small bird yesterday was just a bit of debris fluttering in the wind!

Kare (Derby, UK)

AnnieF. said...

One peregrine on the nestbox ledge - has just been in the scrape, squatting down - and another just arrived on the tower ledge with small prey (can't see what it is yet).

Phoebe said...

A very nice close-up at the moment on the tower cam of an adult eating prey.

Pax Canada said...

wonderful shot of bird with prey

AnnieF. said...

There has been a peregrine on the nestbox ledge (scrape side) for quite a while - facing the scrape but looking round.

AnnieF. said...

It's still there - if it's the same one. That's a very long time! Has anyone else been watching who can confirm or otherwise that this is the same bird? And would this be pre-nesting behaviour?

Karen Anne said...

spy,

I don't think the nestcams intrude in the sense that the birds notice them in any significant way. There's the recurrent question, does the pudding cam generate some attractive warmth in the winter, since they seem to cuddle up to it.

As to the privacy, you have a good point. Ideally we would ask, but we can't do that.

So I hope the fact that the cams do no harm and they make so much beauty available to the world, and raise consciousness, esp. among children makes them okay.

Plus with watchers, often fledglings are rescued who otherwise would die.

Pax Canada said...

I think the tower cam is frozen

Pax Canada said...

Female was on nest ledge, then male brought it some prey, she ate some and then flew off with the rest.

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

@Pax Canada
Thanks for this alert. I've rebooted our server yet again.
There's a lot of food-exchange been going on recently: I retrieved a couple of video clips of this happening which I'll try and find the time over the weekend to edit and upload to the blog.

Interesting question and comments about the ethics of webcams. Am interested to hear more people's views on the subject, rather than give my opinions.

Nick
Derby Museums

Terry, Herts UK said...

Intrusive?

I'll be devil's advocate here and say that without the webcams there would likely be no peregrines, no project, no nest box, no volunteers, no Cathy with Colin, no 24hr protection of these birds and many less educated people about the subject :)

'Intrusive' is the fact that we are very likely all watchable leaving our houses for the supermarket, followed around each aisle of the store and filmed coming home again - by dozens of such cameras.

The peregrines have no concept of a camera, whether they are vaguely interested in it's shiny reflections or sitting on it for a tiny bit of warmth or not. Neither have they any concept of why the cathedral is there, what it is really for and why that rather handy nest box suddenly appeared one year.

Don't feel you are intruding. If the birds felt you were, they would be off like a shot and the project team might well be prosecuted for disturbing a highly-protected wild species.

Relax and enjoy the privilege that a tremendous amount of hard work continues to bring to us.

AnnieF. said...

Well said, Terry,very good points there and if I may say so very well expressed. Seconded!

Phoebe said...

Terry, I also second that - nothing more to say except let's enjoyt it!

AnnieF. said...

One on the nestbox ledge rhs, has just scratched its head & now having a wash & brush-up.

AnnieF. said...

There has been a peregrine in the scrape for some time (just flown off), moving round in the depression and looking up as if waiting for its mate.