Thursday, 21 March 2013

Derby eggs for Easter? With Snowy update and new VIDEO on 23rd....

The first urban egg of the year has been laid in London - on 13th with a second on 16th. and now a third!
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 
Nationally, the earliest urban egg I am aware of was laid in Bath on 10th March 2011, well ahead of other UK sites.
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: Notts peregrines now have their first egg, as of earlier today (21st). But looking at the snow covered platform in Derby on 22nd, you begin to see why it may not be sense to lay early.......especially in Derby where there's much thicker snow on the nest than at Nottingham......
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.

63 comments:

Phoebe said...

I've just witnessed the Notts falcon lay the first egg! 11:34am

Our Derby ones won't be long now.

Phoebe said...

I've posted a screenshot of the Notts egg on my flickr.

Phoebe said...

Peregrine in the scrape being very still

Phoebe said...

The male (tiercel) is sat on the ledge looking out. Perhaps waiting for the falcon to return with food. He checked out the hollow in the gravel earlier.

AnnieF. said...

Great drawing and super letter - the enthusiasm shines through in both. I do hope Ian can get many more schools involved, there are so many aspects of the curriculum that could be covered just by seeing what happens in the nestbox & surrounds.
My guess (unscientific!) for the first Derby egg is Tuesday 26th. & I'll be glued to the laptop.

Green Class said...

We had a gess when we think the first egg is going to be laid. most of the children siad the 29th of march. the elyest was the 23thd
of march and the latist was the 1st of April. we are makeing a graf to show awer gesses. the least popeler day was the 26 of march because nowone chose it. we hope she dosent lay them in the snow!

Anonymous said...

Just watch nottingham peregrine webcam and they have one egg, must of been laid today, as wasn't there yesterday....andy

Mo Cole said...

Derby 0. Nottingham 1....... x

Anonymous said...

Notts pair 1 egg 11:34 today


Ian aka superbrad

Anonymous said...

Hi, just to let you know that the Nottingham Peregrines have just had there first egg.....Andy

christine said...

I think norwich may Have a egg aswell! Not sure! From Christine

christine said...

She seems 2 be sitting asthough she is keeping something warm! From christine

Kate said...

So lovely to see the young interested, and just love their drawings.
Poor Birds here this morning have a NEST filled with snow , so pleased I.
was wrong in my forecast.

London has four eggs this wet morning, captured, as all alone while breakfast was being sought LOL!!!

Helen said...

Fantastic views of a peregrine in the snow on webcam one at the moment. Some really interesting close up shots!

Kath said...

Happy to report we have our 1st egg here in Norwich laid yesterday,hope yours wait until after the snow :)

Lisa said...

Just for fun, in Norwich, our pair have acquired the names Cath and Norman, very appropriate for their setting.... When talking about all the different pairs it seems to make life easier with them having names. Has anyone suggested names for your 2 here at Derby? A name for the female this morning has been suggested as Snowey, bless her, but we don't want to name your birds if they already have names. Please let us know. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Hi just wondered if i could ask a question...what would happen while if all this snow is here, and if it doesn't clear in the nesting tray....if the Falcon began to pass the egg ready for laying ( i imagine it its like giving birth to anything human or animal, once baby, or in this egg is ready to come it will have to come)...so what im trying to ask is would she still lay in the snow or can she hold off laying.....sorry for the strange question thanks, Andy

Nick B (DWT) said...

Hi Lisa: we've stoutly resisted naming our adults up to now for various reasons though we come under pressure to name them quite often!
Our thinking is that these birds are not pets. They are completely wild and chose Derby of their own accord.
We want to avoid the sense of owning them - and naming them does have connotations of ownership.
The ospreys at Rutland don;t have names (just ring numbers) whereas Roy Dennis' ospreys mostly do - though only a few are human/first/Christian names - others are called Rothiemurchus or Red8T....
The other problem is that it is often not possible on the web cams to be 100% sure which bird you are looking at! The camera makes closeup birds look bigger than they are....
So, the jury's out (as opposed to the Jurys Inn!).....
Nick B (DWT)

Nick B (DWT) said...

Andy: good question re. can the female hang on to an egg!
My understanding is that she has little control over the process once an egg has begun to form....but I'll do some research and get back to you...
Nick B (DWT)

Anonymous said...

Hello again.....thanks nick, it will be very interesting to see what answers you can find with your research...re: holding on to the egg. I must say i have a feeling we are going to see an egg sometime very soon, The Falcon is spending a lot of time in and on the nesting tray...just hope the snow clears soon but it looks like we are in for more. Thanks Andy

phoebe said...

i think i just saw an egg under the falcon, can't be sure though!

Phoebe said...

Well if she hasn't already laid an egg I think she will do sometime today.

AnnieF. said...

There's a peregrine in the scrape looking quite unconcerned about getting a cold undercarriage. Is it the female preparing to lay?

Phoebe said...

Oh good, no egg yet, hope they wait for the snow to go.

Phoebe said...

Is the the tiercel in the scrape?

AnnieF. said...

That same peregrine has been in or around the scrape for ages, and sat in it again to have a preen. There's a really deep depression in the snow, so I believe it must be the falcon getting ready to lay. Not a good time, but maybe she has no choice

Phoebe said...

Well our falcon has not laid an egg yet.

I think Notts might have another by morning, she looks ready to lay again. I posted in my flickr.

AnnieF. said...

Terrific video clip of snow-clearing. We could use a few like her down this way!

Nick B (DWT) said...

Anyone wanting a full list of UK peregrine web cams (and some abroad) should go to the London Peregrine Partnership website and click on http://www.london-peregrine-partnership.org.uk/peregrines-on-the-web.html - a very comprehensive list is provided.
Nick B (DWT)

Helen said...

One of the peregrines just paid a brief visit to the nest platform. First time I've seen one today.

Sue Peregrino said...

You have a tray full of snow at Derby .... as they also have just over the M1 at Notts. The only problem for Notts is that an egg had been laid before the blizzard hit. Once again, it was pitiful to watch the female, this time doggedly sitting almost buried in the snow. Surely the egg won't survive? This morning, I've watched the female feed on the parapet with the egg down a huge "snow hole". The weather forecast continues grim, so I hope the wise Derby pair hold off until better times. Most of the other birds reported as having laid already are further south where they are in less bleak situations, certainly, the Charing Cross site looks OK. If Notts were to lose all of the eggs due to the weather, will that be "it" or are peregrines capable of trying another clutch (I suspect not)
You say the Derby pair are the original birds from 2006, how can you tell? The textbooks (which we know the Derby birds ignore) say a peregrine lifespan is 6 to 7 years so the Derbys have well exceeded this assuming they were fully adult in 2006. Maybe its another way that urban peregrines differ from wilderness peregrines?
I agree with you about the sickly anthropomorphism of naming wild creatures, although perhaps the Charing Cross males name of "tom" is OK because he gained that after being known as "the other male".
We have nothing going on at Aylesbury on the egg-laying front which in this weather pleases me!

Nick B (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust) said...

Hi Sue: yes peregrines will lay a repeat clutch provided it is early enough in the season and the female is in good shape.
Re. whether our birds are the same ones we've had all the time: we are 100% sure they are. Each bird has its favorite habits and sitting places which a new bird wouldn't copy. For example, when it rains, the male always hides in that little eroded gap in the stonework above the nest and when it's hot, the female often perches below the nest on the left as you look from the ground.
It seems that urban birds, with less or (hopefully) no persecution, can live longer than their rural cousins....so we hope ours will be around a few more years yet. In captivity they can reach 15-20 years with luck.
Nick B (DWT)

Phoebe said...

The pair are being very vocal today. Lots of echupping going on.

Peregrine Project Member (Nick M.) said...

I'm beginning to wonder whether our female is in egg-laying mood and could lay on the right-hand side of the platform at any time. What do others think? She's been standing still for quite some time now.

phoebe said...

I must admit Nick, I thought that a few days ago when I saw the right side being scraped out. She has been sat there for quite some time now.

Phoebe said...

Food is being prepared on the tower.

Phoebe said...

she is back in the right side again.

AnnieF. said...

Peregrine (falcon I think) is in the rhs of the nestbox looking fidgety & as if she's ready to lay. That would be interesting, as it's not the usual side. Would it make any difference?

Phoebe said...

The only difference would be that we wouldn't have such a good view. But I know that the gravel on the left is softer than on the right.

AnnieF. said...

I didn't know that Phoebe, about the gravel. But now she's gone - just when I was getting anxious!

Phoebe said...

The falcon does seem to like that right hand side, she is there again.

Phoebe said...

Annie - I am pretty sure about the gravel but perhaps someone will confirm?

Phoebe said...

Oh I do hope she doesn't lay in the right side. Maybe she is there because the snow is not as deep that side. I said they would have the first egg on easter day, but she does look irritable at the moment!

Nick B (DWT) said...

Hi all: looks increasingly likely the falcon will lay on the wrong side of the platform which has far less snow on it - wrong in that it is not visible from the new axis camera or the bigger, zoomable old camera. The substrate on that side is slate not gravel so not so easy to create a depression. We did that deliberately to encourage the falcon to lay on the gravelly side, in view of the better camera - and of course she's obliged every year so far. This year looks like being different....but we'll have to wait and see....
Nick B (DWT)

Phoebe said...

Yes Nick I had forgotten that camera was zoomable, I was still looking forward to watching from the new egg cam. If the snow was to melt a bit they would have time to lay on the left. Fingers crossed.

Sue Peregrino said...

Thanks for the info on longevity Nick. 15-20 years is considerably more than the age span of "wilderness" birds. So interesting to know that you can identify the parent birds, and with the ringing of their offspring, that should reveal more and more information about urban peregrines (which I feel sure are now almost a separate sub-species)
I see Derby is still holding off egg-laying which with the upcoming week's weather forecast is good. Notts is stilll sitting on the "snow hole" - it makes me want to weep. I know peregrines are tough birds, but it's pitiful. Today, I've noticed that Aylesbury is sitting snuggled down on the scrape. There's little snow but her feathers are being strongly ruffled so it looks as if there's a bitter wind blowing.

Julie said...

Just looked at the cameras and burst out laughing at what I saw. You Derby Peregrine people are WONDERFUL!! Those peregrines don't know how spoilt they are ...

Jane (Belper) said...

I'm sorry, I couldn't follow your instructions - I giggled!!
This is really "blue sky thinking"! Here's hoping it works.
Good luck and thank you.
Jane

Dutch Eagle Fan said...

It's impossible not to laugh at the sight of that hot water bottle in the nest LOL
Good thinking though !

Mo Cole said...

can we get an electric blanket in there lol.... well done guys (but they are worth it)... Mo Cole x

Phoebe said...

Just logged on to see the scrape, it did make me chuckle, I was going to suggest and blowtorch! It is melting the snow though, maybe enough for the birds to re-dig the hollow. A great Idea!

AnnieF. said...

That hottie's a perfect example of lateral thinking - de Bono would be proud!

Sue Peregrino said...

I'm really sorry to go off topic and out of Derby but I'm bursting to tell all my Derby friends that the Aylesbury peregrine laid its first egg at 9:30am this morning - or at least, that's the time I saw it on the webcam. We've not got a lot of snow down here, but it looks as if there is a strong (and very cold) wind blowing.

Caroline said...

Hello everyone --- great to catch up here. Really interesting to hear that the Derby peregrines may live longer than usual. The care and attention from the 2 Nicks is as spectacular as all the new gear! Good to hear your birds are OK at Aylesbury, Sue. Reassuring news that the Notts bird is fairly weather-proof in her snow-hole... indeed, one imagines that snow and wind are much easier for her feathers to withstand than the constant drenching she endured last year. We hope for the best while knowing that the weather hasn't read the rule-book. Take care, Caroline

Caroline said...

Oh, just seen your fantastic news at Aylesbury, Sue! Well done to all concerned with establishing that project. Fingers crossed for you now.

Phoebe said...

Sue, I took a look at your Aylesbury webcam, the falcon was snuggled down tightly. Congratulations on your first egg!

Phoebe said...

I can actually see some gravel now on the left side!

AnnieF. said...

Some pretty nifty manouevering with the hottie-on-a-rope there, leaving a nice clear patch for the falcon to scrape in.
Sue, I just took a peek at your falcon, & apart from wind-ruffled feathers she looks quite snug.
The Nottingham falcon is still determinedly sitting on her egg & fortunately the snow's receding now, but this east wind is bitterly cold.

Nick B (DWT) said...

Sorry all that we couldn't warn you about our last minute attempts to melt some of the snow. Nick M would have abseiled down and done the job by hand but the wind was ferocious and bitterly cold so we hit on another plan. We did seek the approval of a Schedule I licenced ringer, Ant Messenger, who came down and looked at the situation to see what we were suggesting and approve it.
The HWBottle swung about like crazy but Nick M managed to land it in the 'right' spot several times and you can now see some gravel!
The media are covering the story - BBC East Midlands Today hopefully tonight, BBC Radio Derby on Drive Time somewhere around 5-6pm and the local paper too. It's not every day a HLB is lowered down a cathedral tower!
More on a new blog post soon....
Nick B (DWT)

nick said...

that should be HWB not HLB of course.....
NB

Anonymous said...

Hi there, great idea guys well done, had had a look at the online version of the Derby Telegraph, and there are a few screen grabs of the HWB in the tray, but had to laugh when i read what it said underneath....HWB lowered into Peregrine Falcons nest to help keep them warm....couldn't resist telling you as i thought it was brilliant....Andy.

Anonymous said...

Just seen both birds sitting on the letters on the side of the Jurys Inn!!! Loui

Caroline said...

The manouevring of HWB and "milk can" was pretty nifty... especially as one could hear the wind blowing a gale! Reminded me of those fairground games where you have to try and grab a prize with some long-fangled arm and lanky hook. Reckon you get the teddy bear, you two! Sounds like the birds were keeping a keen eye on the proceedings from Jury's. I guess they don't perceive HWBs as a threat to the nest whereas you might have had unfriendly company, Nick B!