Saturday, 16 June 2018

Fledging begins - plus some updates

Reports yesterday suggested the male had flown and was sitting up on a roof nearby.
Males rarely come to ground so now he's made one good flight he should be OK.
The Watch Point today (16th) will look for him and report back if they find him.
the two much heavier females may not fledge for a few days yet.....we'll see!
This morning is damp and cloudy with the prospect of showers - not the sort of weather that chicks usually fledge under.
UPDATE mid morning Saturday 16th: the news from the Watch Point is that the juvenile male
(a 'chick' no longer!) is on the roof of the tall hotel nearby with its mother standing guard....so we don't need to worry about him! His sisters are unlikely to fledge today given the weather and their remaining fluff!
UPDATE Saturday pm: Antony and Helen at the WP report that the young male flew back to the tower landing a bit lower than they would have liked (and it would have liked too I suspect!).
It's a windy day and flying isn't easy round buildings because of the turbulence. He should be OK though.
The WP was fairly quiet both of people and 'bird action' but it was good to see a grey wagtail collecting insects on the grass nearby and flying off to a building to feed its young.
And in Swift Awareness Week  (see below)- it was also great to see a few swifts zooming past the tower!

And we apologise about the problems with the cams.....beyond our control over the weekend certainly though it seems that at least some are now working again.

The Project Team

Ps If you are in Derby or can get to today's Watch Point do please go and help the team to find the male....

Pps. On another subject, today marks the start of Swift Awareness Week (16-23 June) with 90 local events running around the UK. Swifts have declined by over 50% in the last 25 years so they need our help and a raised profile!
To find out if there is an event near you go to this map, enlarge it and click on a 'swift' near you.
The full details will appear on the left of your screen. Do support events near you if you can.
tinyurl.com/SLNSAW2018map .

UKSAW - there are five events in Derbyshire (in Chaddesden (Derby) and Bakewell on Tuesday (19th), Hathersage (20th), Chesterfield (22nd ) and Melbourne 23rd.
Please support them if you can,,,full details are on the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust website:https://www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/events .

Swifts are fascinating birds which only touch the earth when they need to lay eggs. They nest inside our roofs and under our tiles but when buildings are renovated  the tiny holes they need to access their nests get blocked up and the birds are suddenly homeless.
Two swifts looking for a non-existent hole to nest in. Photo David Naylor
And there's a fab web cam in Poland which is inside a swift's nest. The birds have four eggs soon to hatch - well worth a look - you might even get hooked!

http://jerzyki-webcam.pl/Webcam

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Ringing the chicks and two Watch Point reports

Report on the Watch Point of 9th June by Helen Naylor:

The watch point went well, after a fairly quiet start. The chicks were seen preening a lot of the time and doing some vigorous wing flapping, which sent clouds of fluffy white down floating from the tower.  All three chicks could be seen and the difference in size between them was quite noticeable, even from the ground. One of the youngsters was very bold and perched on the edge of the nest platform for a while. The adults were around on and off throughout the morning. One of them sat on the Silk Mill chimney giving us some good views. Some food was eventually brought in by the female after she appeared to retrieve it from a cache on the other side of the tower. It was immediately grabbed from her by one of the chicks, although the adult bird soon took charge again.

Report on the Watch Point Saturday 2 June:

The adult birds were around for much of the time during today’s watch point, either on the tower or on the nearby hotel lettering. The female could be seen sitting above the nest platform on the left hand side of the tower, keeping a close watch on the chicks below, but often out of view of the cameras. The chicks were quite active and it was great to be able to see them through the telescopes. There were at least two fluffy white heads appearing above the edge of the nest box at regular intervals. The chicks were fed just before lunchtime and again later in the early afternoon as we were packing away.  The weather remained fine and the watch point was busy, with many visitors coming from further afield, including New Zealand, Iran and the Ukraine, as well as Portsmouth!
Thanks to Helen and to Antony (our volunteers today).
Next WPs: Wednesday 6th and Saturday 9th.

Ringing the chicks

With several alterations to plans due to the rain today (30th May), the chicks were finally ringed in the early evening.
Nick M abseiled down and lowered the chicks in a rucksack and they were ringed inside the cathedral tower by Chloe and Dave, both experienced and licenced ringers.
The chicks were noisy and feisty and obviously in good health.
Their weights were 545 gms (the male) and 815 and 665 (the two much bigger females).
The unhatched egg was recovered and will be sent for analysis.
If you wanted to see video footage - Alex Rock from the cathedral captured film and put it on the Cathedral's Facebook site.
Here are some stills and screenshots:
Nick M abseils down and reaches the chicks
One of the chicks about to be ringed
Colour ring in place, just the metal BTO ring to go on
All three safely back in the nest
The female is soon back to check on her chicks
Thanks to Chloe, Dave and Alex for their help.
The project Team

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Growing fast.... more Watch Points and a poem

The three chicks are growing very fast and soon they will change their looks and become slightly less attractive!
Within seven weeks from hatching they will achieve the weight and height of their parents!

Following the first (successful) Watch Point yesterday, the next ones are on Wednesday 30th May and Saturday 2nd June so, since it is half term, we hope to see many families coming to see the birds.


Meanwhile, Marc Whitlock, who's a sessional education and community worker for DWT and who is helping Matt Robinson run the Watch Points this summer was inspired to write some verse:

Peregrine Watchpoint’s back another year,
For one mum, her twelfth  spent here.
On the platform, out of sight
Huddled three white chicks who were quite
Unaware of those unseen
Gathered there on Cathedral Green.
The falcon led the way in getting food
Shaming her tiercel to tend to his brood.
Both performed for the visiting bunch
In dramatic attempts at catching lunch:
Above our heads both adults flew
In tandem there, but even two,
This time, could not dispatch
A meal and left without a catch.
The weather fine, they came from far
On foot, by bus and plane and car.
Over 90 strong enjoyed (it would appear)
This first eventful watchpoint of the year.


Hope you like it!

The project team

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

First Watch Point is this Saturday (26th May)..and went well!

The first Watch Point went well today with both adults putting on fine flying displays.
It was good to see some familiar faces  and to meet some people who have supported the project over the years for the first time (a special hello to Lynda who has been a staunch supporter of the project for many years and who had to get three buses to get there! It was great to meet you at last!).
The next WP is on Wednesday 30th, same times, same place. It's half term so bring the whole family down!

The first of our usual series of Watch Points (WP) begin THIS SATURDAY May 26th on Cathedral Green behind the cathedral on Full Street.
there are plenty of car parks nearby and some street parking (but it is all metered).

So if you live anywhere near, do come down and meet our super volunteers and Marc Whitlock from the Trust (he'll be bringing all the gear down with him from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's HQ where it is stored).
WPs start at 11 am and run on until about 1.30 depending on whether there is much to see and how tired the volunteers are by then.
A 2017 Watch Point - note the roof is now finished and there is no white plastic 'shroud' over it

It is WEATHER DEPENDENT so if it is really wet it won't happen. Also be aware that it gets very hot standing on the Green so do come prepared with skin protection, hats etc.
We have telescopes which will allow you to see the birds 'close up' and by the weekend we expect the chicks to be just big enough to poke their heads above the front of the nest platform.
Subsequently, WPs will take place every Wednesday and Saturday morning until Saturday 7th July.

Meanwhile the chicks are growing fast, fed on the 'Atkins diet'  - ie all meat - and not even any water (they get what they need from the meat unbelievably!). The first feather 'pins' will soon start to appear and they will get a bit less appealing to look at!

Wendy Bartter captured this video yesterday:




Hope to see some of you at a WP during the summer....

The project team

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

The final egg and a 'heads up' on the Watch Points

It's clear than, after such a long gap between the third egg hatching and the failure of the fourth to do so, that it won't now hatch.
Whether the egg was infertile or a fully formed chick inside failed to break the eggshell open we don't know and clearly cannot get down to the nest to retrieve it to find out.
By the time we ring the chicks (when they are about 19-20 days old) it is likely the egg will have 'disappeared' - ie been accidentally broken and the shell fragments removed.
It is possible some eagle eyed observer might see what the egg contains at some stage. If you do please comment on the blog.
Failure of an egg to hatch has happened before: in 2007 two eggs failed to hatch and one failed in both 2015 and 2017.
Three chicks have died before they fledged but overall, this female of ours has been remarkably successful compared to sites elsewhere. Of 47 eggs laid up to and including 2017, she has raised 40 to the fledging stage.
This video showing the female preening while watching over her brood was made on 15th May by Wendy Bartter to whom, many thanks:



Watch Point events
As usual Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is organising a series of Watch Points on Cathedral Green once the chicks are big enough to be visible from the ground at the back of the cathedral where we assemble our telescopes.

This year, Matt Robinson has organised the volunteer rota and sought the necessary permissions to have a stand on the green which belongs to the city council.
More on Watch Points later but just to say that the first one is on Saturday May 26th May and then on every Saturday and Wednesday up to Saturday 7th July.
As usual we have a lovely band of volunteers to help everyone who comes along to see the birds and learn about their fascinating lives.

The Project Team

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

First chick

(Update 10th May: As of this morning we have three new peregrine chicks, with one egg still unhatched)

Whilst many other pairs of  peregrines around the country have already hatched their eggs, Derby's always seem later than most. At 11am today there was an obvious hole (pip) in the shell of  one egg, and we could hear faint squealing coming from the young bird inside.

An hour  later we had our first glimpse of this new life as our female left the nest and the tiercel (male) took over. Once again, we thank Wendy Bartter for capturing these super videos from our webcams.



Because peregrines don't incubate their eggs in earnest until the whole clutch is laid, this means they all develop at about the same speed. So, with luck, we should see further chick hatching very soon. Our male (who was new last year) is clearly doing his job well.  Within 90 minutes he was bringing food to the platform, although the falcon was not showing much interest in feeding them at such an early stage.

One commenter asked whether the noises made by the male today are normal, and they certainly are - almost a 'here I am' sort of chirrup, rather than the stronger contact/courtship calls we heard in previous weeks. Once again, it's great that local schoolchildren have been encouraged to watch our webcameras. The primary school children from Green Class were clearly excited today to  see the wet chick revealed, and how quickly it soon dried out and fluffed up, and we thank them for leaving a comment on our blog.

Hatching - Any moment now

A changeover this morning  at 08:45am  revealed a clear pip in one of the four eggs,  and over the microphone on Webcam Page 1 a faint squealing sound of one of the unhatched chicked can clearly be heard.
Changeover at 08:45am 

So,  today looks highly likely to see our eggs hatching. Keep on watching...!

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Still incubating.....

(Sat 5th May: For some reason our main webcam on Page 1 is not displaying for users. However, it is functioning fine with both audio and video on iPhones. Please leave a comment and a note about your system detail if you are able to view Page 1 OK. Unfortunately we will not be able to resolve this until after the Bank Holiday. Meanwhile, please use one of our other cameras to watch our birds.)

A month seems a long long time to have to watch the peregrines incubate their eggs.
But imagine how it must be for the birds themselves - especially our female who does 90% of the egg sitting!
Anyway, we're now approaching chick hatching time which is always exciting.
While we wait, here's a screengrab captured by Beth Bearder yesterday (30th April) showing a change over and giving us a clear view of the four eggs.
Beth works close to the Cathedral and this is the second year she has watched the web cams - so thank you Beth and a belated welcome to the peregrine community!
We hope to see you at one of our watch Points which are due to start in late May (full details nearer the time)......

Changeover 30th April
Screengrab captured by Beth Bearder

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Incubation

The long incubation period is dominated by the female who does most of the work. Being considerably larger than the male, the bare 'brood patch' on her underside is much better able to keep all her eggs warm.
The male will do all the food provision during this period of the breeding cycle, taking over incubation while the female goes off to feed and preen. She's usually back on the eggs within an hour or two....
A change over. This photo from the 2017 nesting season
clearly shows the difference in size between the male (left)
and the female (right)

The weather has been poor lately being wet and the wind coming from an easterly direction, blowing straight at the nest platform.
However peregrines have evolved to cope with harsh conditions since they habitually nest on ledges on sea or mountain cliffs where they are really exposed to the elements.
The Project Team

Monday, 9 April 2018

Clutch completed on April 9th

The fourth egg appeared overnight - probably just after midnight so incubation will now begin in earnest.
Wendy Bartter captured this video for us (four eggs visible at the end):


And Kate in Devon came up with this still:
 
Thanks to all our night time watchers for keeping such a close eye on our birds.
We now have a month or so until hatching........
 
The Project Team

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Third egg 6th April

The third egg was a bit slow coming. It arrived sometime between 5.45 and 8.30 am on Friday 6th April.
Kate in Devon's screenshot shows all three eggs and the smaller male and larger female at a change over of duties.
Three eggs, male left and female right at a change over
Screenshot by Kate in Devon



If we are to get a fourth and final egg, then we will surely have to wait until Sunday or even Monday.
Thanks to everyone whose comments have kept us all up to speed.
If you are new to the project, scroll down to previous posts to read about the earlier eggs......


The Project Team


Ps. If you would like to volunteer to help with our Watch Point events on Wednesday and Saturday mornings starting once any chicks have grown big enough to be seen through our telescopes from the ground (late May we hope!), do please get in touch using peregrines@derbyshirewt.co.uk .


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

The second and third eggs

Friday 6th Update. The third egg was seen at 8.30 am today but so far no indication of exactly when it was laid.
A much longer gap than usual between the second and third eggs so maybe we won't get a fourth?
Time will tell.....

The project team.


Wendy Bartter captured this video for us today showing the two eggs uncovered for all to see;


For newcomers to this blog about the peregrines at Derby Cathedral, please scroll down to the previous post to read all about the egg laying so far!

The Project Team

Saturday, 31 March 2018

A wet egg - in time for Easter and a second on Monday!

Update 8pm Monday 2nd April:
Egg number two arrived at 6.20pm this evening, about two and a half days after the first.
So the next one should appear during Wednesday evening or more likely on Thursday morning.....photo to follow tomorrow hopefully......


The first egg of 2018 was laid at some time during the night and now, in the daylight, it looks very wet - the weather has been throwing rain at the nest platform for many hours now. It is normal for the first three eggs not to be incubated until the clutch is complete.....so being wet, and cooling down, isn't a problem. The egg will still be viable.
This is the female's 48th egg, laying her first clutch in 2006 (three eggs) and clutches of four in every year since making this the start of her 13th clutch.

We can expect subsequent eggs at about two day intervals.....

This screen capture was made by Kate at 7 am this morning:
Egg Number One....looking wet!


A nice little piece about the egg was on East Midlands Today BBC1 news this evening:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09x06lm/east-midlands-today-weekend-news-31032018


And here's a Wendy Barter video showing the male bringing food to the incubating female mid-morning on a very wet and cold Bank Holiday Monday:

Friday, 30 March 2018

Egg time - and a new problem

Last year, with a new male to contend with, our aging female laid her first egg on 5th April.
With the new pair going on to work successfully together last summer to raise their chicks, we might expect an egg a day or two earlier this year perhaps.....even just possibly on Easter Sunday (1st)?

If you check out the table of dates on our FAQ page, you'll see that since 2006, the earliest date for the first egg was 23rd March - way back in 2009.

In the five years prior to 2017 (ie with her old mate) our female first laid one on either 28th or 29th March - apart from that very cold and snowy spring of 2013 when she wisely delayed matters until 4th April.

So, it's really anyone's guess as to which day she'll start her clutch this time around. Do use the comments facility to guess - but there's no prize for the nearest! My personal hunch is that, given the several periods of cold weather we've had recently, she'll lay only a day or so earlier than last year but, as usual, we'll just have to wait in anticipation!

The first egg is usually laid at night...so will any insomniac be watching when it happens? Time will tell....

A new problem
Last year both we and the birds had to contend with major work on the Cathedral roof. We were surprised how little it affected the birds, although we did have to reposition our aerial in order to get our webcam signals through all that scaffolding - but we sorted it.

This year we have a new, bigger problem.

As some of you will know, getting internet connectivity from the Cathedral tower to the world beyond so you can see the web cams is a complex business, carried out for us by Connect Derby and Derby City Council on whose systems and helpful IT staff we rely. We also rely on gear placed inside the historic Silk Mill Museum which beams the radio signal it receives from the tower over to the council house, and thence to the wider world.
The Silk Mill with the 2017 Weeping Poppies
Installation commemorating those who died in WW1

We learned only this week that the Silk Mill Museum is imminently about to undergo major refurbishment as part of a redevelopment scheme. This requires the removal of all electrical and internet equipment from the building, including the gear on which we rely, meaning we could lose webcam connectivity completely.

Finding a solution isn't easy or quick so we are hoping for a stay of execution which would allow us to keep the equipment running, ideally until any chicks fledge in late June, or until we can sort out a new location for our wireless connections.

We are doing everything possible to find solutions, with great help and support from everyone involved, including Alex Rock at the Cathedral.......so watch this space  and keep your fingers firmly crossed!

The Project Team

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Snow eggs yet.....

With snow covering the platform today (18th) it's just as well our pair lay somewhat later than some others elsewhere.

Easterly winds blow snow onto the platform again
screenshot by Kate
 

It seems the pair in Bath now have their first egg (as do pairs in Woking (laid yesterday 17th) and Nottingham) and no doubt the females are struggling to keep their eggs snow and frost free!
The very earliest egg ever at Derby was laid on 23rd March some years ago and of course, last year, with a new male to contend with, our female didn't lay until 5th April.
This year we would expect a slightly earlier date despite this inclement weather.....we'll have to wait and see of course if we get one for Easter or not.
Here's a new video clip from Wendy taken on 18th in the snow:



The Project Team

Ps.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Mike Dilger visits our Project

This morning (6th March) Nick Moyes and I were joined at the top of the tower by Mike Dilger of The One Show fame, Simon Hare, from the BBC's East Midlands Inside Out programme, a cameraman and Alex Rock from Derby Cathedral.
Mike and Simon were there to film an interview with Nick Moyes about our project and how relatively safe urban peregrines are compared to their country cousins who suffer both from persecution and from the theft of chicks for the illegal but very lucrative trade selling them for falcon racing in Arabia.
The nine minute long piece is essentially about how peregrines nesting in rural quarries and on cliffs in the White Peak area of Derbyshire are being targeted by chick thieves and how steps need to be taken to catch them.
The Inside Out programme went out on Monday (12th) at 7.30pm on BBC 1. Now it is available to watch from anywhere in the UK on iplayer. HERE'S THE LINK:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09vp8bj/inside-out-east-midlands-12032018 . The peregrine piece starts 20 minutes in.
Nick and I were there to do the annual nest clean up and camera maintenance tasks that we do every year. I say 'we' but of course it is Nick M, both a mountaineer and an all round technically highly capable fellow, who abseils down to the platform while I act as his unskilled assistant/gopher!
Nick was interviewed by Mike on the top of the tower and then filmed abseiling down to the platform.

Nick Moyes and Mike Dilger discuss our peregrines on top of the tower 
Nick prepares to abseil down to the nest platform to
clean it up and maintain the cameras

Mike was already very well informed about our project, for example, knowing all about our world first video clip which proved that peregrines hunt by night - in our case using the floodlighting to see their prey flying over the Cathedral.

Very sodden prey remains found up there today included two woodcock, two fieldfares, a blackbird and a teal.

Update on 7th: good to hear from regular web cam watcher Kate in Devon that both adults have been back to the platform this morning in the sunlight!

Male brings an offering to his mate the day after the nest cleanup. Screengrab by Kate in Devon
And a view looking south....
Now, where can I hide this........ Screengrab by Kate
And another screengrab from Kate showing the male (and his ring) with the back of the female in the foreground.
Dare I approach her? Screengrab by Kate


Nick Brown
Peregrine Project DWT team member

Ps. If you want to see a white tailed eagle web cam there's one in Latvia here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vu7bChYGfiA . What massive birds and beaks!
Crossbills and black woodpeckers (making their 'telephone calls') can sometimes be heard on the audio feed and I gather a party of waxwings came to look at the nest the other day (while the eagles were away that is!). No eggs yet......but this Hungarian web cam shows a tiny chick (being fed a fish at the moment I watched it!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEYHrHPWVoA . Birds further south breed earlier.....and here's a Dutch goshawk nest web cam: https://www.vogelbescherming.nl/beleefdelente/filmpjes/bekijken/terugkeer-van-de-underdog .

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Getting in the mood....early and late February 2018

Wendy has captured several new videos as you can see from her comments.
The second part of this latest one shows the female on the platform, unfazed by today's snow (27th February) :


Wendy Bartter captured the video below a couple of days ago (on 8th February) and it shows both the female doing a little nest scraping and later on, an e-chupping session between the pair with the male flying off perhaps as a result of the intimidating pose and feet dancing display the female puts on. So things are beginning to hot up!
The Project Team


Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Happy New Year and a new video

Update 22nd January:
Mating has been reported at another urban peregrine site in the county - now that is really VERY early in the year indeed! At Derby most matings take place away from the platform and out of sight of the cameras but if anyone is passing through Derby it may be worth a look up at the cathedral tower....!

Update 21 January
A snowy day in Derby, captured with this screenshot by Kate (in wet Devon!):


Somewhat belatedly, the Project Team wish all viewers of the blog and web cams a very happy (and peregrine-filled) New Year!
Needless to say, the wonderful Wendy Bartter has continued to capture video clips of our birds for us  throughout the holiday period and as we begin a new breeding season.
Here's one from January 1st: