Friday, 31 March 2017

In memory of a fine peregrine

It is perhaps appropriate to look back on the life of the male who, until recently, had been present on Derby Cathedral probably since 2004 and possibly before that.
This wonderful photo of him was taken by Graham Whitmore in one of the very early years.
He looks as if he's waving to an adoring crowd below whereas in fact he was just about to preen his head:
As you can see his eye ring and cere (at the base of his beak) are a bright yellow indicating a mature adult so we think he was at least three years old in 2006 and possibly older.So this year he would have been at least 14 years old we think.
The male in about 2007 by
Graham Whitmore

Within a week of the first platform going up (in April 2006), the male had flown down to it and enticed his new mate to follow. That first year three chicks were eventually reared, several weeks later than in any subsequent year due partly to the very late arrival of their new nest and partly perhaps because this was te female's first clutch.
Our city peregrines are a good deal safer than those living out in the countryside so whatever has happened to him, he's certainly enjoyed a far longer life than most other males in the county.
Unless he was already dead when the newcomer turned up there will certainly have been some sort of fight since males don't relinquish their hold over a female or a nest site without one.
It is unlikely his body will ever be found....but it isn't impossible if, perhaps it is on a Derby roof somewhere.
Most other urban peregrine pairs we are aware of have changed mates for whatever reason much more frequently than Derby.
At another urban nest site in Derbyshire, the male has changed at least three times in only some seven or eight years since breeding first started there
One male probably flew into the building it was nesting on in a bad storm, another was found dead, presumed to have been killed by an intruder and a third was found dead and on xray had shot in his body.

So the change at Derby is quite a shock to us having had the same pair all these years.
Together they have reared 37 chicks to the fledging stage a very high productivity rate.
So as a new era starts, there's a lot we owe to our 'old' male.
The Project Team

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi all,
Are we aware if this male is a full adult? Clearly that would affect his ability to breed.
Whilst we are all sorry for the passing of the last bird it will be very interesting to see how he behaves. Where he sits, what he catches, his interaction with the falcon. During my time watching the birds (Both on the net and at the cathedral)it is very clear all the birds are very much individuals and behave in very different ways.
I hope and believe the new bird will continue the pleasure, education and drama the old bird provided.
Chris Marshall

Anonymous said...

Sad to see that it looks as if the old peregrine has gone to pastures new.The falcon at present looks very dejected let's hope she manages to have a brood, even it arrives late

Anonymous said...

Chris, et al: yes, this male is very clearly adult and very definitely engaged in the usual courtship activities of ee-chupping together on the scrape, and bringing food to the female (no doubt invaluable in proving to a prospective mate that he is capable of hunting and bringing enough food to her and any offspring).
I've never noticed any of our birds looking dejected (were that actually possible) - in fact Wendy's recent video clips really seem to suggest that she's getting on splendidly with this new adult bird.
NickM
Project Team

Phoebe said...

I am sad to lose the tiercel, I got quite used to him and his quirky little ways. It won't be the same without him. So I wonder if he had reached the end of his life, how old must the falcon be? She could be on her last year. It will be exciting watching the new male and how well he looks after her.

Hoping for a good egg laying season.

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

@Phoebe
Following on from my previous comment above, our female peregrine (falcon) is also of the same age as the original tiercel. She, too, arrived on the scene around 2005 but then left in March that year. She (or maybe another) falcon then turned up in the winter of 2015/2016, and was the one who we say truing to make a scrape in one of the existing tiny alcove in the east side of the tower.

We knew that were she successful no chicks could develop there in such a tiny space. It was then that our general discussions about whether they might benefit from ledge of their own crystallised into an urgent plan to construct one for them that very season. They would have had it earlier had the weather not been so inclement that year. But we can say with some confidence that she, too, must now be at least 13 to 14 years old. Equally, we can't expect her to live for many more years, but would then expect the tiercel to attract another mate - and so the cycle of life goes on, we hope.

Karen B. said...

Hi - been wartching the Falcon since 10.20 she been scraping gravel and moving around alot with feathers fluffing ??? Will we have an egg??

Julia said...

This brought a few tears to my eyes

kate said...

Lovely Memoriam Thank you, but as we say... onwards and upwards..
Pics on FLKR
Tiercel just brought Prey to Slate Scrape,Gravel side waiting Falcon, she wont go over for it so he then flies off with it, she looks bewildered and start calling back, without success..

That is till we see if Wendy picks anything up.

kate said...

Sorry for confusion meant Flkr pics of Prey scenario, not of the Memoriam.
Apologies.

Helen said...

Apparently a pair of peregrines at an urban nest site in Sutton,Surrey has a clutch of six eggs!

https://www.facebook.com/SuttonPeregrines/

Phoebe said...

Sure it's not an April fool :/

Helen said...

@Phoebe That was my first thought! However the last egg was laid on the 30th March. It seems that they have laid five eggs in the past too, so they have a record of large clutches.

Phoebe said...

@Helen, I've just had a scout round at other peregrine sites and apparently Woking have 5 eggs. So six for Sutton, Surrey is probably right. Yes I also read about previous large clutches. I can't understand how I've not heard of this before now. Wow.

kate said...

Helen and Phoebe Yes was Sutton FB ( I am not on FB but you can scroll down and see)
https://m.facebook.com/SuttonPeregrines/

Our Lady Teasing this morning (Pic on Flkr)
Kate

Sj H said...

By a huge coincidence a very similar situation is going at at Aylesbury. There is egg-laying, but only one. The resident male is different to last year. The old male has disappeared off the scene and seems to have been replaced by one with a metal ring on its right leg. Nobody knows when this change occurred. Aylesbury has a web cam and can be "googled" if anyone interested.

Helen said...

The male peregrine made a quick visit to the platform a few minutes ago. Just long enough to spend a bit of time scraping in the gravel.

Suzanne Ward-Close said...

Very strange but I think the female is eating gravel from the scrape! Is this normal behaviour? Sunday 13.38

The Project Team said...

Hi Suzanne: welcome to the blog - assuming you are a first-time commentator (and to any other newcomers too)!
Whether the falcon actually swallows any gravel we're not entirely sure. Certainly she takes it in her beak and sometimes deposits it elsewhere as part of her ritualised behaviour before any eggs are laid but we're not aware of anything in the literature which says she swallows some it.
Rooks and other seed eating birds definitely do eat grit and gravel, often from roadsides. This sits in their gizzards and helps to break down hard seed cases. But since peregrines rarely swallow anything hard this is not something we are aware of them doing.
The project team

Nick Brown said...

Karen B et al: things look good for egg laying but exactly when this might start is anyone's guess....probably not just yet given the change of male but we'll see!
Nick

Sj H said...

2/4/17 19:13hrs Not sure what just happened, could those with recordings check? I didn't see the whole sequence and didn't see which bird had the ring (so not sure who was who) but what I think happened was that the male brought in prey to the waiting female who grabbed it and flew off with it leaving the male on the platform.

Helen said...

The male bird does seem to have been very active today. I've seen him bring prey to the platform a couple of times today and pass it to the female who has immediately flown off with it.

Phoebe said...

I have a hunch there may be an egg overnight :-))

Helen said...

Yet another delivery of prey by the male bird at 23.38. Looks like it might have been freshly caught too.

Wendy Bartter said...

Here's the vid of that prey delivery @ 19.12 mentioned by SjH ...
https://youtu.be/EMfndKheKxI


Phoebe said...

Thanks for that Wendy :-) Bless him he is trying so hard <3

Phoebe said...

Well there's no egg yet. I had a feeling the first egg would be on the 3rd April. Time yet.

Sj H said...

There's one heck of a lot of prey items on the platform, including one particularly large gory feathered lump. I'm of the opinion that it's unusual to have such a lot of debris at the scrape site at this stage of proceedings. I've never noted it before at this site or any other. I postulate that it's due to the pairing being new. First, it's for bonding and second, it's necessary to build the female's resources up to be able to produce eggs? What do other watchers think?

Sj H said...

By the way, many thanks for the video of that food pass where I blinked and didn't catch who was who. I now see quite clearly that it was "Ringo" (ie the ringed male) who brought prey to the female. She grabbed it and flew off with it. Suggesting to me that she has more idea of keeping the platform relatively hygenic, more than perhaps an inexperienced male would. Thanks again :)

Phoebe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phoebe said...

Whats happening on the scrape? The male sat on the ledge, female bowing on other side now they are together, the male standing his ground.

He finally left the scrape and the female is sat still, now she has the black looking food from the corner.

Sj H said...

Whoa! I don't know but could the behaviour observed be some sort of ritualised courting? And the male isn't twigging the hint yet?

Phoebe said...

That's what I thought, he seemed to just look at her and wonder what was wrong. I wondered at one point if she was going to have a go at him. She will soon get him 'under the thumb' so to speak - haha

Sj H said...

I'm sorry I wasn't watching when the incident happened, but it seems it strikes us both the same way. It does sound excitingly like something may be on the way, once the penny drops with the male. He just seems obsessed with feeding her at the moment and isn't getting on with his main duty! Did you have the sound on? I wonder, was she "ee-chupping" as well? Now she's just hanging about on the platform, presumably waiting for him to return (I guess he's off hunting again lol)

Phoebe said...

Yes I had the sound on, they, she more than him was ee-chupping and squeaking constantly.

Heather said...

Hi Sj H, I too find the constant bringing of food to the scrape unusual, I don't remember the late Mr P doing this but he would bring food when the falcon was brooding or the young had just hatched. I may be wrong as the memory does play tricks when you get older! I think like you that she is immediately flying off with the prey to keep the scrape clean (it's quite amusing seeing his rather dejected reaction when she does this, as if he's wondering why she's being so ungrateful). Possibly this is a very young adult and it's his first time at courting a new mate, but as Phoebe said hopefully she'll help him get the hang of things!

ren13 said...

I've not been watching much this year but have been following the blogs, so sorry to see we have apparently lost the "old fella". Hopefully the new male will figure out what to do. If not, we can hope for next season.
Meanwhile his gaining maturity will be an interesting process.

Sj H said...

The Derby scrape is definitely different to any of the numerous other peregrine sites with webcams that I've looked at. All of the others are/were kept spotlessly clean until the eggs hatch. Once there are chicks, the adults have no option but to bring prey to them. From that time onwards, it's all downhill at the scrape hygiene wise, with rotting prey and projectile excrement. It makes logical sense, tiny chicks are vulnerable and don't need to be born into a pathogen-laden scrape. My gut feeling is that the new male is possibly young and inexperienced and is stuck in the courtship stage. The female looks keen to get started, seems to understand much better than him. There could also be a practical reason nature is doing this. It's a big physical ask for a female bird to produce egg(s). Maybe she isn't physically built up enough yet to produce eggs. What we all really need to see is the pair actually mating, then we'll be guaranteed eggs are on the way. Come on birds, get on with it!

Sj H said...

4/4/17 10:15 After a very long wait on the platform, the female has flown from the platform. On camera 4, I believe I see both birds on the ledge below the platform (it's very fuzzy!) After some minutes, can's see them but lots of soft calling going on. 10:22 she returns to the platform and yes, she has food. She proceeds to eat it. I was hoping to see some breeding/egg laying but hey ho, still not yet! It would be really interesting to hear what if anything people on the ground in Derby can see.

Phoebe said...

Well, the scrape is looking a bit tidier now, not much in the way of prey items. Maybe things are moving forward :-))

Anonymous said...

For anyone missing the"egg action" the female osprey at Rutland water has laid her first egg this afternoon, there is a webcam http://www.ospreys.org.uk/webcam/

Sj H said...

I just found @derbyperegrines twitter post about the lack of the pair getting on with egg production. Honestly, if the female had arranged for a marching band and fireworks and had held up a neon sign saying "ready to mate" she couldn't have made her wishes plainer. The male has been wonderfully attentive feeding her but is looking frankly baffled at the behaviour she's being driven to. The twitter video is worth watching (there's a link on this site), but be warned it's hard to keep calm and patient!
Yes, it's good to see the platform looking tidier, but even so, I've seen a few pesky flies buzzing around, it's way short of perfect.

Phoebe said...

Thanks for that Sj H, this is the session I watched live and commented about on 3rd April at 19:17! Glad that they managed to get the video :-))

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xozKF1Z8xGc

Wendy Bartter said...

https://youtu.be/xozKF1Z8xGc

This is my vid link as posted on Derby Peregrines Twitter page & really sorry that I omitted to post here for you all!
It was because you mentioned it Phoebe that I specifically looked to see if I had the moment recorded, thank you!
I agree SjH that it is extremely frustrating to watch but wanted to show the entire session as it gives such interesting insight into Peregrine courtship behaviour which we are very privileged to be able to observe due to these marvellous webcams!

Phoebe said...

Thank you, Wendy! I had to mention it in the hope a video would be caught. So glad you got the recording :-)) Very interesting session indeed!

Wendy Bartter said...

Hope you folk are watching now as the Mrs is on the scrape looking very much as if an egg could be laid!

Wendy Bartter said...

Oh dear, cancel that last remark ... she is perched on the edge again in her usual night-time position!

Jessica said...

We have an egg! Yey!