So, as egg laying time approaches here in Derby (our pair have been mating for well over a week now), our hopes and expectations are rising by the day.
The video below was captured on 14th March, thanks to some nifty reporting by webcam watchers on this blog. It is followed by a sequence from the new camera showing the female scraping in the nest depression where we hope she'll soon start to lay her eggs as she had done since 2006......
The Derby pair are the same two that have been here all along. The theory is that, as the female gets older, so the date of laying the first egg gets earlier year by year.
However, our female hasn't been reading the text books!
In 2006, the first year she bred, we had no cameras in place and so don't have a date for the first egg - though it was certainly very late because the nest platform wasn't even in position until 6th April! She laid three that first year.
Since then she has laid four eggs every year but the date of the first has varied between 23rd March (in 2009) and 3rd April (2007).
|Drawing of a full clutch from a school in Dronfield, N. Derbyshire 2012|
|More correspondence and a drawing from Zoe in Dronfield|
There's usually a gap of two days between eggs and full incubation doesn't begin until at least the third and usually the fourth egg has been laid. This means that they all hatch very close to each other - a quite different strategy from, say, the barn owl which incubates immediately the first egg is laid. This means the chicks hatch over a number of days and are different sizes. In years of low small mammal numbers, the younger chicks die, sometimes eaten by their older siblings. Peregrines, with a reliable food source every year, can always raise a full brood unless disease or some congenital problem intervenes.
Thanks to the children who were in Ash Class last year at Holmesdale School in Dronfield and their teacher Rachel for the letters and drawings they sent in to us last summer. Like Brigg Infants, they are avid web cam watchers!
Nick B (DWT)
For newcomers to this blog: DWT = Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, the organisation that manages this project in partnership with The Cathedral, Derby City Council (who host the web cams) and Cathedral Quarter.
To learn more about DWT visit its website at www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk .
|Screen grab 22nd March by Kate from Devon|
Update 23rd March : now almost as much snow in Nottingham as here and in Nottingham the female is sitting on her egg (or eggs?) surrounded by a wall of snow! Peregrines are tough birds though, adapted to nesting high up on icy and snowy mountain ledges.....so they have inbuilt strategies to deal with situations like this.....it will be fascinating to see what happens both in Notts and here in Derby. Should first clutches fail, second ones are an option they usually take up.
The video below was taken on Saturday morning at 05:45am, showing how easily snow can be cleared with a bit of effort. Of course, if it continues to fall it all fills back in again, as has happened this morning.