Thursday, 10 June 2010

Fledging (still) approaches

We are expecting the chicks to fledge probably within the next 2-3 days. The local police and RSPCA have been informed in case a member of the public contacts either of them having seen a fledgling on the ground somewhere. We have installed a stout box, gardening gloves and an old bedspread in the cathedral in case one comes has to be caught and taken back up the tower again for a second go.
(This 2007 photo by John Salloway shows two recently fledged young tangling with each other near the cathedral - with luck the 2010 youngsters will soon be doing likewise!)

The weather has been very poor recently - cold, wet and very windy...not conducive to making one's first flight! By the weekend things should have improved and wing flapping is likely to re-commence....possibly leading to a flight!

With just two young in the platform this year, the chance of one accidently catching the other with its wing and knocking it off the platform is less likely...we'll just have to wait and see.

This new photo was taken yesterday (11th) by Colin Pass to whom many thanks. Some wing stretch that!!

Several commentators have thought one of the chicks had fledged already - they are very difficult to see, especially on the right hand side of the ledge so you can be forgiven but please do try to make sure one has really left the ledge before you put up a comment if you will - we will get real alerts shortly and could do without any more false ones....
It may also be the case that one of the more adventurous chicks will climb out of sight onto the higher edges of the platform or up the central black strap giving the apperance that there is only one left. Check carefully for the ends of tails just in view somewhere!
Meanwhile once the weather improves there are likely to be watchers on the ground - at least in the mornings and afternoons and so if one comes down on a road hopefully someone will spot it in time to shepherd it out of danger from traffic.

The team members will do their best to get down to the cathedral as quickly as they can once we learn that a chick has landed - but we can't be there all the time of course.

We will update the blog just as soon as we can after any fledging happens.

Our fingers are crossed!

The team

Watch Point Update: today (Friday 11th) was quite busy with visitors from Italy, Greece and the USA coming to see the birds. The two chicks were doing only a small amount of flapping - perhaps they haven't yet recovered from the wetting they got yesterday! the female stood guard above but the male didn't show up all morning.....


Craig said...

I wish you all good luck for tomorrow's watchpoint, as in hoping they take their first flight in front of a large crowd.

17:59 Both Juvs are laying down in camera 2. Gathering their strength I hope. Shhhhh, [wisper] one's asleep, she hasn't moved in a while.

Lovely clear day today, hope you get the same tomorrow.

Mary T said...

I do hope they can wait until tomorrow please as I am coming down to the watchpoint. Would be great to be there in person and watch the great event (also a bit nervewracking).....

Good weather forecast for tomorrow :-)

RJ said...

Around 7.30/40 I saw both perched on the ledge, I think for the first time? Judging by the amount of down on the head of the eldest, Saturday/Sunday should be good for the first off..

Anonymous said...

One of the chicks is perched on the edge looking over as if it is about to jump!

Terry, Herts UK said...

Both juvies doing a lot of preening and wing flapping, especially the older looking one. Can't help but wonder how itchy they get as they lose their last bits of down. They both still have little downy Mohicans but not for much longer. Their speckly, bronzed chests are being shown-off wonderfully by the early morning sunlight.

There's a small amount of fresh looking prey in one corner of the scrape, so presumably breakfast has been served.

Up on the tower is an adult; looks like the falcon.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick question as a newcomer to the blog and webcams this year, first of all what a great job you are doing.The question is not ment to offend or cause and argument but i feel that i need to understand slightly more of certain situations, whilst the two of the four chick,s were ill and dying you stated that by no means could you interveen or help them in any way, so why at this stage as fledging approaches if one comes too ground, you can and will interveen and help. Surely this contradicts everything that you stated in earlier post, as that is not letting nature take its own route. Thankyou Margaret of Derby.

Craig said...

11:04 Wing flapping from the younger. Playing to the cameras below I think.

12.04 Adult on the tower, certinly livened the kids up, started wingflapping, streatching.

12.06 Adult has vanished.

12:15 One just flew up to the camera bracing to the side of camera 2. Well done.

12:25 One is sleeping in the corner. Either that or she's hiding. 12:40 She's still there, hasn't moved.

12:36 Adult has appeared on the wall below the nest box, camera 1. Hopefully there will be some encouragement. Falcon I think.

12:43 Now the other one has decided to rest in the front corner of the box. Good job the day is still young or I'd be saying no fledging today.

Craig said...

13:36 An adult just landed on the nest, didn't see which one, I think it was the Falcon, brought in Lunch. One of the kids is starting to tuck in and the other one will get the leftovers I imagine.

AnnieF. said...

The youngster in the lhs scrape seems to be dealing with an entire bird for lunch! I didn't see it being brought in. The other doesn't seem to have noticed, as it's still in the rhs.

The Team said...

Margaret: interference at the nest of a peregrine requires a special licence since these birds are highly protected by law. The team applied for a licence from Natural England (NE), the statutory body, just to go down and retrieve any corpse so we could attempt to find out what the chick had died from but even this application was refused in line with refusal to allow interference at peregrine nests elsewhere. It was also deemed to be inappropriate by NE to attempt to treat any of the surviving chicks had we discovered what was wrong with the dead ones. On reflection, we felt these were correct rulings. To get to the nest requires an abseil down which takes over an hour to set up and carry out. It also has its risks as you can imagine - so it is not an easy decison to make in any case. Disturbance at a nest can have unforeseen effects both on the live chicks and the adults. The falcon in particular gets very alarmed and flies around close to the tower screaming. At other nests the females have been known to attack climbers. This pair are fairly used to having people below them and take no notice but having people visible above the nest or on it is another matter.
The pros and cons have to be weighed up very carefully.
Then, as many people have said, these birds are not pets, they are wild and we should keep interference to a minimum. Perhaps the chicks that died had some genetic faults in which case, their survival would allow 'less fit' genes to survive in the population, possibly making it less fit to survive into the future.
Also we do not have the skills, facilities or time to look after chicks in captivity for any length of time. The one falconer who has been very helpful in looking after the injured juvenile from last year cannot be expected to take on other chicks and indeed wouldn't want possibly disease-carrying chicks to come near his other birds.
Rescuing a fallen juvenile from the ground (eg in danger of being run over by a bus or car) is a different matter. The bird can usually be caught quite easily and without any disturbance to the others or the parent birds which are unaware of what is going on. It does not require a special licence. Taking it back to the top of the tower to give it another chance to fly successfully is quick and simple to do and again causes minimal disturbance.
The reason they come to ground more often than they would on a natural cliff is that the cathedral is narrow and the first-flighting juveniles have to make a very tight turn to get back to the tower. On a cliff they can turn more gently and still get back to the cliff a bit further along.
We don't think the Derby public would allow us to watch as a chick gets squashed by traffic if we could stop this happening by rescuing it.
The whole question of interference with nature in general is a very complex and sometimes difficult one but for the time being, that is our thinking on the subject.
We hope it helps.
The Team

Craig said...

To The Team,
Many thanks for your answer, I did write one of my own covering slightly on licences and the legality but then noticed you had put one in.

You mention twice in your post the possibility of a chick being hit by a car. I mentioned this too but I however put in more possibilities of clear dangers. These aren't just cars/buses, which are the obvious ones, but people (don't tell me they're not) and other animals. You can't predict where the Juvenile will come down.

I would, however, point out that you need a licence to take a bird, it's a criminal offence otherwise, something you didn't mention when talking about the falconer and can be mentioned in passing.


Pax (Canada) said...

Re posting from team, I think you deserve a typing award, well done, and everything well explained, maybe it should be posted somewhere so you can refer people to, save you a lot of typing :-)

Joy said...

These youngsters are still keeping us waiting and guessing when they'll fly. They appear to be a lot bigger than last years birds, not really sure.

Thanks to all the team for everything you do and answering peoples questions. I do notice that there aren't as many watching this year? Is it because we keep getting silly comments from people and others find it irritating.

Anonymous said...

Watchpoint Report,
Saturday 12 June

An early-ish start today! Chris and I were just starting to set things out at 10 o'clock this morning when a coach party from Chester on a sight seeing tour of Derbyshire ambushed us. We couldn't set telescopes up fast enough! So apart from seeing the Cathedral and Silk Mill museum as they had intended, they also got very good views of our chicks.

The falcon had already arrived at the cathedral at about 9.30 carrying a feral pigeon which she cached on a water spout and then sat back to enjoy the sunshine leaving the chicks calling to her and flapping to exercise their wings.

Just before 11.00 she suddenly took off over the river calling loudly and gaining height - a buzzard had drifted into her territory and was escorted off in the direction of the Bus Station.

This was followed by about twenty minutes of both adults flying together all around the area culminating in a breathtaking mock stoop by the falcon which took her low over Cathedral Green and around the corner of the Silk Mill before she soared away to land on the police radio mast near Chester Green.

Shortly after 12.00, we again saw both adults flying around to the North, sometimes landing for a while on Jury's Inn. The female then returned to her favoured perch just below the nest platform where she rested until, at about quarter to one, a crow flew across the Green and across the nave of the cathedral, just below the faclon - she launched herself at the crow and we later had reports from two ladies (who had travelled from Newcastle-under-Lyme just to see the peregrines) that an injured crow had been seen in Iron Gate trying to shelter in a shop doorway - presumably the same bird which won't be making the same mistake again!!!

Just as we were preparing to close the watchpoint (and this always seems to happen to us) the falcon took off again heading high over the Market Place area, we then saw why - the tiercel was coming in with a prey item. They flew around each other for a few minutes before making a food pass - the tiercel dropped his catch just as the falcon passed underneath him, she missed it at the first attempt but twisted around to catch it before it had fallen twenty feet. This was brought back to the Cathedral and plucked before being dropped into the nest platform, the falcon then returning to her perch.

The many visitors we had today (including a couple on holiday from Australia) were treated to excellent views of both chicks as well as the aerial displays put on by their parents.

Many thanks to all who came down today and thankyou for the generous contributions you made to our funds.

Andy, Chris and Helen.

The Team said...

We should have added that the falconer, Colin, who looks after Cathy the injured peregrine has the necessary licences from DEFRA to allow him to keep a wild but injured peregrine in captivity. This bird will never be able to fly properly and therefore cannot ever be released.
The Team

Midge said...

Hi Margaret. Welcome to the Derby Peregrine fanatics club!

It is, and was, incredibly hard to watch two of the chicks die, especially the second which took over a week. But if the birds had not had web cams trained on them none of us would have been any the wiser. What was heartwarming was the incredible devotion of the Falcon towards her sickly chick. Amazing.

The teams explanation is spot on. We are privelidged to be able to see nature in the raw and we just have to accept her decisions.

Put a note in your diary for end of March next year when it all starts happening again.

AnnieF. said...

The tiercel, I think, has brought food in. They look bigger than him!

Phoebe said...

Thank you for the watchpoint report it was a very full and interesting day - what a delight for all the visitors. I feel envious that I was not able to come along. I must try to get there before they fledge.

Mo Cole said...

What a lovely day you had yesterday.....Is it possible to purchase a print of the 2007 photo by John Salloway 'Young tangling with each other'????. The chicks looked quite content this morning having a lay in...then mother arrived lol....Lets see what today brings. xxxx

Nick B said...

Thanks for the news that one seems to have fledged....we'll get down there right away.
Nick B