Saturday, 12 October 2013

Deeper into autumn

The weather here has turned wet, windy and decidedly colder over the last week. A huge arrival of redwings from Scandinavia has taken place. For example, some 33,000 birds were counted from a visible migration watch point in Bedfordshire a couple of mornings ago. Numbers are still very low in Derbyshire (I saw 12 near the city this morning) but more will arrive soon no doubt.
Redwings (and their larger cousins, the fieldfares) are both on the peregrine prey list.
The next bird that should come winging its way across the North Sea is the woodcock. Mass arrivals of this nocturnal wader should be gin around the middle of October - so any day soon. Our adult peregrines take woodcock as they fly over the cathedral at night, illuminated by the floodlighting which beams upwards.

Woodcock photographed in a Derby garden in mid winter
I've not been to the cathedral much recently but when I have I've only seen the two adults so I suspect that all the juveniles have now departed, as they should have done.
Things will be quiet now until February when the first stirrings of the breeding season re-emerge and courtship starts up all over again.
Nick B (DWT)


Stretton Handley Primary School said...

We were lucky to have two sightings of a Woodcock during our Big Schools Birdwatch at the beginning of the year; not many schools that can boast that! No doubt it was being forced out to forage during the day due to prolonged periods of snow on the ground.

It's great that you're keeping this blog alive during the non breeding season. Keep up the good work;)

Don Newing said...

Thanks for keeping the bog alive during the Autumn/Winter season. Details of available prey species helps to maintain interest even when there's not much of interest to be seen.

Lorraine said...

Saw the falcon by the spout at midnight, looking intently upwards to the sky. She flew off but hasn't so far returned with a catch.

Bye the way - I found an image of that animal with it's specialized long finger and made it the new BP so you could see it for yourselves. It's a Lemur called an Aye-Aye.

I'll show an image of the deep sea fish that has a light on it's head ( The Angler Fish ) in the next BP

Lorraine said...

Just an add on -

The falcon has returned but hasn't brought anything with her. She's deff giving all her attention to the sky though, so I guess she's hoping to catch one of the incoming migrants.

AnnieF. said...

There's a peregrine on the scrape ledge rhs, frequently looking upwards.

Phoebe said...

There's still a peregrine but on the top looking around

Lorraine said...

I saw two birds by the spout just after midnight and feel 99% sure one was the juvie. Both were watching the sky. The falcon ( in the foreground ) flew off and returned a number of times whilst the juvie remained, but later, it also flew off and returned a couple of times over the next two hours. Neither brought anything back to the tower and both have now gone as the mist has moved in around the tower( 3am )

The BP shows the two together ( the juvie behind the falcon ) and I'll post the screen grab of the juvie on it's own in a BP later on today so that you can see both screen shots ( only one image can be a BP at any one time and it then replaces the previous BP )

I'm not 100% sure, but comparison of the chest feathers of the falcon and the other bird present does seem to indicate that it was the juvie ( most definitely not the tiercel anyway )

Lorraine said...

Nice tea-time view of the tiercel on the scrape ledge as the sun is setting just now.

Phoebe said...

Yes Lorraine it is the tiercel on the scrape, he is still there and now the falcon is on the top.

Phoebe said...

The tiercel has been gone for a while but is now back, on the corbel below the scrape rhs and it looks like he is feeding.

Lorraine said...

The falcon was processing a catch when I tuned in just now, and though she was on the gargoyle near the cam I couldn't see what it was. It was small and dark ( could have been a redwing ) and she didn't take long to eat it. She jumped up onto the cam for a while then flew off and re-appeared on the tower ledge where the tiercel had just landed by the spout. The tiercel then flew off and the falcon is now alone on the ledge...........for now anyway !
The prey was so small, she will probably be hunting again later on.

Lorraine said...

This is the BP screen grab of the other bird that shared the tower ledge with the falcon at varying times in the early hours of this morning. It does look like a juvie, as it's chest feathers are a lot duller than the adult birds. Who knows, but it would be nice to know it was still resident in Derby for the time being, especialy now it knows there are redwings to be had by sticking around a while longer than is usual.

Lorraine said...

Both adults in view at present ( 6.30pm ) with the falcon on the edge of the scrape and the tiercel asleep below.
Before I forget, here is an image I found of that fish I posted about a couple of days ago, which has evolved a light on it's head !

It's called the " Angler Fish " and it sure is a fierce looking creature, so if you click onto the BP image just before bedtime, don't blame me if you have nightmares !!!

Lorraine said...

This BP screen grab image is of an adult in exactly the same position tonight as the image I posted as a BP on 17th of what I considered to be a juvie.

You can see by the lighter chest on this adult bird that there is a significant difference between the two images. I'm now convinced that the bird image I captured on 17th was indeed a juvie and that it is still around and well tolerated by the falcon, with whom it spent some considerable time with on the tower ledge the other night.

Yay !!!!!!

Lorraine said...

How utterly frustrating !!..............
Tuned in at3am to see THREE birds on the tower. One adult on the ledge near the spout and another adult visible processing a catch in the hollow with a juvie flapping and screeching, begging for a piece of the catch from atop the spout itself. As I was about to catch a screen grab, the buffering bar started but wont so far re-boot visual start of the live cam action!
I'm dettermined to catch a screen grab so will stay tuned in the hope that the buffering will eventually allow access again. Couldn't have happened at a more crucial moment !

Lorraine said...

No luck and it seems the cam is now inoperable with a black screen announcing unable to connect to the content requested etc.,
Well at least we now know for certain that there is a juvie still present and that it is still being tolerated by the parent birds.
I'll wait up until 3.30am just in case Cam 3 re-boots, but if not, then at least there is hope of catching a similar proof image in the days to come.

Lorraine said...

Cam3 buffer now allowing access, but all three birds gone from around tower spout ( drat!) and only one bird ( cant make out which one ) now present with it's back to the cam on the tower ledge, finishing the catch remains that it must have brought down with it. Maybe it's the juv with the leftovers that the parents left it to before they flew off.

I doubt all three will re-group together again tonight and so it's pointless to stay tuned in at this late hour.

I'm content at least that I have my proof now, but just disapointed I was too excited to catch a screen grab when I had a chance in those first few moments. There may be another opportunity tomorrow.

Sweet dreams for me at least - I knew in my bones that the juvie was still around !!

Lorraine said...

Adult in the scrape with prey as the bells ring 6.15pm and sure enough, it looks like a redwing.

AnnieF. said...

Tiercel, I think, on the scrape ledge LHS, cleaning his claws.

Helen said...

Watching the falcon on the tower this evening it seemed as if she was in hunting mode. She took off a few times but came back with nothing. After a temporary loss in my internet connection I quickly reconnected about ten minutes ago only to find her busy plucking prey on the tower! Interestingly what looks to be the male bird was also plucking prey on the stonework below the platform. I'm guessing a flock of birds must have been passing through which both birds managed to take advantage of. Possibly redwings?

Phoebe said...

Just tuned in before bed to see both adults on view, one on the stonework at the top, the other on the corbel below far right. There is also a strange noise like metal banging every few seconds, it's quite loud. I wonder if something is going on below on the green?

Lorraine said...

Both adults still in the positions noted in Phoebe's above post. Also the metallic clanging. It sounds like some scaffold is being assembled by a night crew close by and now in the quieter hours, you can even pick up the occasional comments by the men at work!

" What did the missus put on your sarney's tonight Fred? "

"Oh, just the usual Joe - bromide and cheese - wanna swap for one of your egg mayonnaise? "

Phoebe said...

While it is a quiet time on the scrape. I am still waiting to see my first redwing and fieldfare. My new home has rowan trees around so I hope these will bring in some good sightings. I am nearer to Derby now too so maybe I might get a sighting of one of the peregrines.

Saying it is quiet on the scrape, the falcon had a good feed there today and a few days ago I saw her scraping out on the right hand side.

Lorraine said...

The falcon often likes to bring her catches home to eat in the scrape and just spotted her again having a nibble on what looks like a pigeon carcass.

The weather here in Plymouth is sunny and pleasant one minute, then chucking it down like park railings the next, so I'm staying put indoors and doing my ironing !

BFN Lorraine

Lorraine said...


With hungry eye fixed on the sky
And starlight opportuning,
A tasty morsel flying by -
The Redwing's fate is looming!

Last juvie gone but still in town
Seen begging on the spout,
The falcon's tolerate it's stay -
But overnight seems out!

Perhaps we'll see it one last time
With head turned up to Mars,
But for now it's just the adult birds -
Who count the midnight stars!

Lorraine said...

How sweet and attentive the tiercel is to his falcon! - I was just watching her eating her catch on the scrape ledge, when the tiercel arrived below and offered her his rich vocal greeting. So nice to hear their voices now and then and look forward to next seasons full chorus of ongoing affection between the birds.

Phoebe said...

Another brilliant poem Lorraine! Thank you so much for sharing. I love to read your poetry. Oh and I do like your BP picture.

Lorraine said...

Adult on the scrape looking around and no doubt sensing the weather system heading toward us. I wonder where they will shelter when it hits. Lets hope it's of short duration if it hits Derby.

I've been at Devonport Marina all day helping a friend batton down his boat. The life guard told us that Plymouth wont be hit as badly as first expected and that the storms will scim over the top and head out West. Last years storms hit Queen Anne's battery hard and many of the boats were left badly damaged.

Hope the tiercel and falcon fare well, though they've probably seen it all before and know exactly how to keep safe. It looks like they had plenty to eat today by the look of the remains that are visible on top of the gargoyle.

Will check in again later and keep an eye on the Cams tomorrow.

Lorraine said...

Very interesting new post from Nick B on the home page "Autumn into Winter" with links to find out more about visual migration -("vis mig" as it's called) and though new to me, it's captured my curiosity.

I was especially interested to read about the wood pigeons seen flying south in large flocks of up to 3000 in number, because whilst at my mothers house in Cornwall last week, she told me about a pigeon that had landed in her garden which seemed so "tame" it would let her approach it very closely. Sure enough when I looked in the garden I spotted it by the rockery. At first I thought it must be injured and as you can see by the new BP pic, it allowed me to get so close to it I could have touched it if I had wanted to. It seemed different in appearance to the common pigeon and was slightly "fluffed up" It pecked a little at a handful of bird seed before moving off to huddle in between the stones of the rockery. I couldn't see any blood or physical injury and so I left it to remain quietly sheltered. It remained in the garden for a couple of days, still very approachable, until we then spotted it up on the post of the trellis. Relieved to see it off the ground we kept an eye on it until we saw it fly onto the shed roof. Soon after there was no further sightings and we assumed it had flown into the nearby wood.

After reading Nick's post, I wonder now if the bird was in fact a wood pigeon that had flew south and landed in Mums garden exhausted and was merely resting up after a long flight? If anyone can identify what it is from the BP and confirm it to be a wood pigeon it may help solve the mystery of why it was so lethargic and approachable.

Also, now that I know they like them, I'll put out some ripe plums and bananas for the many red admirals that we have seen in the garden this month, possibly due to amount of ivy blossom, though after the wind that's already notable in the area today, sightings may well dwindle from now on. Still, we'll know what to do next year, so that was a good tip from Nick.

I was particularly thrilled to read Nick had sighted a juvenile peregrine just a few miles outside Derby ( it's our little beauty - I just know it! ) Right or wrong, I won't be talked out of it, so don't scoff you lot! I tell you now, if it puts in another appearance on the tower, my beady eye will catch it!

Well, the wind is already up here in Plymouth, wildly swinging the branches in the big tree's down our road - gale expected to hit later on today. Hope it doesn't compromise too many birds in it's westward passage.


Nick B (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust) said...

Hi Lorraine: perhaps you meant to post your comment under the most recent post of mine, the one it relates to? Anyway I found it here and can confirm that your BP shows a wood pigeon though probably a juvenile since I can't see the characteristic white marks on the collar. It certainly looks unwell -probably suffering from trichomoniasis, a disease that affects pigeons and finches especially. Whether the bird was a local or a migrant it is impossible to tell. The migrants are probably Scottish or northern UK breeders moving south rather than birds coming across from the continent...but no one can be 100% sure.
Nick B (DWT)

Lorraine said...

Oh yes, Nick, I realize now what you mean about my last post - it would have been better placed under the one it's content related to - I'm glad you mentioned it though because it was helpful in any future posts I write referring to the seasonal updates. They are so interesting Nick and thanks for doing them. I learn something new to me from every one of them.

Thanks also, for identifying the BP was in fact a wood pigeon. I hope it found better shelter in the woods to either recover or at least end it's days out of harms way of the village cats.

One more quick thing - about the direction of the gale winds I posted about in Plymouth:

Though the news updates on TV clearly show the wind direction is Easterly, the Plymouth life guard, at the station located in the Marina I was helping out in yesterday, explained they had been monitoring not one but two systems, one directly on the tail of the other. He said that the area in between the two was what would create the sudden Westerly direction of the gales. It all seemed very technical to my ears, though my friend Eric seemed to understand. Maybe it related more to the local sea conditions rather than the national forecasts - I don't know, but just wanted to clarify so that my comments on the gales won't confuse anyone !!