Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Valentine's Day Videos

Head-bowing courtship behaviour - see video below
A climb up Derby Cathedral’s tower this afternoon yielded two lovely video clips, clearly marking the start of the breeding season.

First, we see the falcon (female bird) on the nest ledge where she had just arrived. It’s 8th February, 7:30am local time (GMT) and dawn is breaking, and the cameras are still in night-mode. She spends a considerable amount of time moving slowly around the nest scrape, picking at debris and possibly consuming small pieces of grit. It seems unlikely that she was picking at insects as it was far too cold and early in the season for that.

Next we see the typical courtship routine of head-bowing and eee-chupp calls from the female. We expect to see the pair mating on the tower during March, and as a precursor to this, we will see a lot of courtship activity. Typical of this is the head-down eee-chupp sequence that follows. It was 11th February, and our male has just arrived at the nest ledge and the female flies in, landing just off camera. They face each other, heads bowed, with the female making an “eee-chup, eee-chup “ call, with the male also calling in the same way. During this display the male may remain absolutely motionless for many minutes. But eventually it seems that his nerve gives in and he suddenly flees the nest, leaving the female behind. Though not seen on this occasion, she often then moves slowly forward and stands inside the nest scrape.

We ask that any webcam viewers seeing interesting activity to make a note of the date and time and to post a comment on this blog. We won't be able to retrieve every one of them, but we can use your feedback to quickly obtain and post as many interesting clips as we are able, given our resources.


Mo Cole Belper said...

Wednesday 9.50am...both Mr and Mrs P at home one on the tower one on the scrape....getting so excited...the fact that they have both been with us all autumn and winter, not a day gone by without seeing at least one of them x

Craig said...

Thank you for the video.

At the time of typing this, 16.07, the Falcon is in the nest box, right hand side, and the Tiercel is on the tower. Falcon is moving around the area. 16.09, Tiercel takes flight, and does not return. Pitty, not courtship. 16.10 Falcon on the ledge.


Craig said...

oh, a new "prove you're not a robot" by typing in two random words.

This doesn't actually stop robots from posting, there are already robot AI who know how to put in those words. It will however prevent spam programmes... but not people (like Me!!!).

Good luck finding one to exclude me.

Yours in evil laughter.

Craig said...

Just looked on the Kestrel cam at Aston Uni, both male and female are there. Hope to see more of them this year.

Reminder: male has the grey head, female has the red head.

Sorry, I know this is a Peregrine forum... I'll make it up to you:

Nottingham Uni now have 2 cameras on their nest box... that link:


superbrad (Ian) said...

Hi All
I ended todays walk at the cathedral and managed a few shots of the Peregrines before the decided to fly of together.
They sat facing each other Centre and Right hand Gargoils as you face the tower.
They looked rather attentive and took flight within seconds of each other.
I have put some on the Blogs Flickr page.Sorry they are not in order.



Erica said...

Nice videos. First posting for ages.I am looking forward to this season

Mo and Pete Cole said...

Thursday 12.15pm.... Had a trip to Derby today and both Mr and Mrs P on stone ledge below nest making an awful lot of noise.... x

AnnieF. said...

@ Craig:
The Aston Uni kestrels spend every night in their "scrape" - have been doing so since Christmas.

Nick B (DWT) said...

A piece about honey buzzards (showing chicks being ringed) was on The One Show BBC1 last night - go 50 minutes in:
Nick B (DWT)

Craig said...

Thanks for the Honey Buzzard video. Can't say I've heard of them. Those chicks are adorable and fluffy and the eyes on the femail were very nice.

From a big softy

Nick Brown (DWT) said...

Craig: we once saw a migrant honey buzzard from a watch point maybe in 2007. They don't breed in Derbyshire but have done very occasionally in Notts. Their nesting sites have to be kept secret to avoid disturbance by birders, photographers and egg collectors.
Roy Dennis sat-tagged a few youngsters and followed their migration down to Africa. Their journeys are still viewable on Roy's site (just google his name).
Nick B (DWT)

AnnieF. said...

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

jan t said...

10-30am peregrine on stone work under scrape looks a nice day at Derby jan (suffolk)

Craig said...

09.12 Falcon on the scrape with food. Tiercel on the tower. I think the Tiercel brought in the food as she certainly didn't have it 5 minutes ago.

Craig said...

09.41 Zoom, zoom... nice looking stones there.

10.02 (unhappy face) I missed the zoom out.

Craig said...

11.40 Falcon on the right hand side of the scrape. Is she digging?

I do hope she's not decided for a change of sides this year. The camera angle on that view isn't looking down to the gravel.

11.42 Over to the left hand side, picks up some left-overs for a snack.

11.46 Off she goes.

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

Thanks for those timings, Craig.

I think the food being eaten this morning was part of the courtship process in which the male brings food to the female - perhaps an evolutionary safety net to prove to her that he's still up to the job of providing for her and (eventually) her chicks.

She will never change sides for nesting - I put only a thin layer of slate on that side, and nice comfy pea-gravel on the left hand side.

The camera angle had to be changed because metal fatigue caused the screw thread of our previous camera mount to fail, so we had to fit a completely new one.

That mount doesn't allow the camera to droop down any more, which should be a good feature. At the time we were dangling off ropes with the chaps from Acclimbatize, our comms failed to the monitoring equipment and it was very hard to be certain exactly where the camera was pointing. Luckily we had a Smartphone with us so we were able to check the live online feed whilst still up there. It's not a perfect fit, but we should get better views of the adults on the edge of the ledge from now on.

I'm just sorting out the VPN access to Derby's network today - there may be a few hiccups whilst we renew security passwords and so on. Sorry you missed the zoomy-in/zoomy-out bit this morning. Hopefully a lot more of that to come as the season progresses.

AnnieF. said...

They're both on the tower - female (?) with back to camera, male (?) further away, facing.

AnnieF. said...

At 13.28 hrs. the female moved briefly into a mating posture, then stood up again. They've both been there ever since my last post even though it's really windy.

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

Thanks, AnnieF.
The earliest we've had reports of mating was 8th March (back in 2009), with the latest being 24th March.
That's not to say it doesn't happen earlier - just that we've not recorded it yet.

Phoebe said...

17:17 falcon on scrape looks like she is calling – the tiercel on the ledge below.

AnnieF. said...

One on the nestbox ledge lhs, the other on the corbel below. They've been there for some time.

AnnieF. said...

They are in the same positions as I reported earlier (scrape-edge and corbel) but I can't believe they haven't moved at all for such a long time.

AnnieF. said...

The peregrine on the scrape-ledge seems to be fast asleep - its head is well & truly tucked back over its shoulder. Wish I could do that!

jan t said...

8.0am Falcon bowing lhs
Tiercel looking on rhs
8.02 Tiercel gone
8.6 Tiercel back top webcam think he has food jan (suffolk)

Iain said...

hi i was wondering if the peregrines had names??

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

Hi Iain
You asked if the peregrines have names.
We did consider this a long time ago and decided that, because Derby's peregrines are totally wild birds, it would not be appropriate to give them names. Nor do we name the chicks.

We recognise that many other peregrine projects around the world do like to give names, but we felt it anthropomorphises them too much. Nick B still tells me off when I refer to our falcons as "mum" from time to time! He's right to, of course.
The only exception on names is the injured peregrine which fledged the nest in 2009 and then came to grief, injuring its wing in a way that prevented it from ever flying free and hunting for herself. Go back in the archives of this blog and you will see we had much debate about whether she should be euthanased or not, but eventually we put her in the care of an expert peregrine breeder who flies her regularly. He named her "Cathy" - after the Cathedral from whence she came.

AnnieF. said...

At 13.21 hrs. the falcon jumped down from the right-hand side edge of the nestbox and began a thorough inspection that side. Meanwhile another peregrine, presumably the tiercel, remained on the usual corbel lhs.
Now the falcon is back on the edge preening.

Phoebe said...

I forgot to say thanks for the videos, it brings it all back, I love the sound of 'ee-chupping'! Can't wait for the coming season.

AnnieF. said...

17.25 p.m. The female has been in the scrape standing in the depression and generally having a good look round. The tiercel is still on the corbel below her. They've both just been disturbed by something which they're staring at.

jan t said...

9.10pm both peregrine on the tower
jan (suffolk)

AnnieF. said...

12.40 pm
The falcon is in the
scrape,standing in the middle & generally inspecting/re-arranging, while the tiercel watches her from the rhs scrape ledge.

AnnieF. said...

One on the tower, one on the scrape ledge rhs.

AnnieF. said...

What a superb blog today (again!) and what fascinating videos, thank you guys so much. It's only a year ago that I was afraid I might not live to see the 2011 breeding/rearing season; now here I am eagerly awaiting 2012's. This website has certainly enriched my life and, I'm sure, the lives of many others worldwide. Thanks again, and Hi! to all my fellow-watchers & bloggers.

AnnieF. said...

I meant to add thanks to Ian (Superbrad) for his exceptional photos - they really do provide a welcome extra dimension for those of us who can't get to Derby to see the peregrines in the flesh and feather.

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...


So glad you liked the new videos, and many thanks for your candid and heartfelt comments. It sounds like you've had a very tough time of things recently. I can't pretend to know what you've been going through, but it's a joy to hear that you and so many others are continuing to get such pleasure from watching Derby's peregrines. Long may it continue.
Nick M.

Anonymous said...

Both Falcons are on view on the RHS at midnight - not a clear view but distinguishable

billie-jo green said...

I can't believe the 2nd egg has been layed.