Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Incubation yawn time

Now well into the first week of incubation, it's a rather a quiet time on Derby Cathedral tower. Webcam watchers will see one or other of our birds incubating their eggs. And lucky viewers may catch a moment of changeover when all four eggs are visible.
We do try to zoom the cameras in during these times, perhaps capturing moments like those shown below.

Meanwhile, despite the heavy showers and cool winds, summer migrants have been pouring into the country in the last few weeks, mostly unseen of course.
Chiffchaffs flooded in about 2-3 weeks ago and now a trickle of wheatears is appearing. If you are out and about in the county, try looking in any bare hilltop fields....you might just see one pausing after its night flight. Ring ouzels have also been moving north, one even appearing on The sanctuary Nature Reserve adjacent to Derby County's football stadium in Derby!
Migrant ospreys have been seen at several locations in Derbyshire including Carsington Reservoir (the biggest open water in the county) where nest platforms have been put up hoping to lure one or two to stay and nest.

Male Wheatear painting, copyright Darren Rees,
The Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA)
Male wheatear: painting copyright of Darren Rees of The Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA).

In the next few weeks hobbies, the peregrine's smaller relatives, will reappear. They've spent the winter in sub-Saharan Africa feeding mainly on insects, par
ticularly flying termites.
Like peregrines and indeed all other falcons, they don't build nests. Instead, hobbies take over unused crow nests high in isolated trees or small groups of trees on farmland.
One of the characteristic sounds of springs gone by was the unmistakeable song of the cuckoo, another bird that winters down in Africa. sadly, with cuckoo numbers well down these days, I don't expect to hear a cuckoo unless I travel up onto the moors where there last stronghold is.
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) satellite tagged five male cuckoos last summer in an attempt to find out exactly where they spend the winter and whether habitat changes in Africa could explain part of this bird's decline. All five cuckoos safely arrived in their winter
winter quarters but now at least one (Clement) has died and won't be returning to the UK.
Two are in mainland Europe, one in Algeria and the fifth is still in the Ivory Coast. Many people have been following these males and you can do likewise by going to:

To see what birds are about in Derbyshire go to the Derbyshire Ornithological Society's excellent website and find the 'Latest Sightings' page:

The cuckoo shown is a juvenile just out of the nest. It was taken by Richard Pittam at DWT's Willington Nature Reserve, south west of Derby last summer.


Nick B (DWT) said...

As you can see, it's a wet day in Derby.
Not the most pleasant weather for the female bird sitting there on her eggs but at least the wind is not from the east.....
Nick B (DWT)

Caroline said...

Hello Holmesdale Infants. I really enjoyed reading your comments too. I wish I had waterproof feathers like the mother peregrine because then I wouldn't need an umbrella today.

Ash class from Homesdale Infants, aged 6-7 said...

we feel sorry for the perigrins bcause it is raining. it looks wet and fogy on the webcam. we cant belive our coments have reached canada!

AnnieF. said...

How exciting for Finn to go to Derby Cathedral to see the birds! I wish I could! I don't think anyone would be able to see much today, it's too rainy. It must be quite chilly for the peregrines when they have to sit still on the eggs for a long time.

jan t said...

Hello Homesdale Infants so nice to read all your comments PLEASE keep them coming.

jan t said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Apparently it is " any day now" for the nottingham chicks to make an appearance and she does look a bit fidgety, keeps looking down as if she is listening

Anonymous said...

Nathan 7 Homesdale infants
what do the peregrines cach to

Holmesdale Infants said...

florence 6
what do the perigrins cach for food.
how long dose it to cach the food.
how fast do they go to kill a bird.
are the perigrins fast or slow.

Anonymous said...

Hello Derby
Things sound very similar in Derby as here in Aylesbury. Just one difference that I spotted - we have already recorded the return of Hobbies. In fact, rather scarily, we also recorded a couple of swifts on 14th April - equalling the earliest ever in Bucks. It was just before the weather took the awful turn for the worse - what is going on????
Anyway, we have had a query from the Aylesbury cam-watchers - do the adults bring prey items to the scrape during the incubation stage - how else would the "sitter" feed? I hope you don't mind questions from "out of Derby" but we just don't (yet) have the brilliant facilities you have. :)

Oak class Holmesdale Infant said...

This is Oak class! We have looked at the peregrine falcons and are looking forward to finding out more about them this afternoon. We hope the sun comes out soon!!

Oak class Holmesdale Infant said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Oak class Holmesdale Infant said...

hi our names are sam billy isaac they are splended we hope one day we can touch one
how old is the male
oak class

Oak class Holmesdale Infant said...

i am eve i am 7 wot ro you doing hi love eve

Nick B (DWT) said...

Hi Sue: usually the male (who does all the hunting during the incubation period)will bring food back to the tower and call the female/falcon off the eggs rather than bring the food to the tray/platform. They need to keep it clean (ish)! She will fly up and take the prey and the male flies down and covers the eggs while she eats and preens. When she's ready, she'll fly back to the nest and displace the male.
This morning when I went past I could see the male huddled in the little space in the stonework above the nest, keeping out of the rain. He doesn't like getting wet I've noticed! Meanwhile the incubating female has no such option!
Nick (DWT)

Nick Brown (wildlife trust) said...

Hello to Nathan and Florence: thank you for your questions about the peregrines.
Here are some answers for you:
The peregrines eat other birds. They eat many different types of bird, not just pigeons.
They catch them as they fly, usually well away from the city's buildings and out over open ground, fields and countryside.
Sometimes a peregrine can catch something quickly - if it is lucky - and bring it back to the tower within ten or twenty minutes maybe. Other times, it may take much longer...even more than an hour.
They are not successful every time they hunt. Many of the birds they chase get away by dodging about, flying into trees or just flying in a way that makes them difficult to catch.
Peregrines are very good at flying. Sometimes they can fly slowly, circling up in the sunlight and using the upcurrents. Other times, when they are hunting, they can fly very fast. Sometimes they come up behind the prey and just snatch it out of the air. Other times they climb up really high in the sky and then close their wings and swoop down on a flying bird below them. When they do this they can reach over 200 miles per hour, making them the fastest bird on the planet!
I hope that helps you understand how these marvellous birds live.
Nick (from the wildlife trust)

Nick Brown (wildlife trust) said...

Hi Sam, Billy and Isaac: you ask how old the male peregrine is.
Well we know he was at least three years old when we first saw him back in 2005. So now we are in 2012.
So how old do you think he must be now?
Nick (wildlife trust)

Nick Brown (wildlife trust) said...

Also a general hello to all the children from Holmesdale Infant School (including Daisy T and Daisy C).
We are glad you like watching the web cams and finding out about the peregrines.
Best wishes,
Nick (from the wildlife trust)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Nick, that's very helpful. You did well to find time to answer it, the children are keeping you very busy with lots of good questions. When you said what the peregrines eat, I remembered once that it looked as if the Derby birds had found a RAT and we wondered how that had happened! I agree with the children who hope that the sun comes out soon. We have had all sorts of weather down here in Bucks today. The sun is out now but we've had heavy hail earlier. I feel very sorry for our falcon, but just like Derby, she sits tight. Aren't they wonderful mothers.

Nick B (DWT) said...

Hi Sue: yes we did once see a rat brought in. My theory for what it's worth is that the peregrine was down at a local river having a bathe (which they must do regularly) and an unsuspecting rat ran out to have a drink. The peregrine stretched out a talon and caught it.
I can assure you however that we don't have flying rats up here....well not that I've seen!

Joy said...

some very interesting blogs, especially from te children.

Joy said...

Some very interesting comments especially from the children

felix from holmesdale said...

the chicks have been fed alot