Tuesday, 31 March 2015

And then there were two!

We've just seen signs of a second egg, which was laid at 19:30 local time. Once again our wide-angle nest camera captured the moment in sound as it fell to the gravel floor of the nest scrape. So the gap between eggs one and two was about 53 hours, ie just over two days!

Egg no. 2 - laid around 19:30pm on 31st Match 2015

Seen at night-time under infra-red illumination, a peregrine egg looks white


Sunday, 29 March 2015

First egg of 2015

Falcon with egg, two hours after it was laid, on 29th March.
(Post Update: New video added)

At last we have an egg!

It was laid at 14:12 local time, today  - just twelve hours later than  last year. The screenshot below was captured by Phoebe, one of our regular webcam-watchers, and posted to Flickr. It was the first image captured by any of our viewers (including the Project Team!)

Screen shot immediately after egg-laying. Captured by Phoebe.

With this cool, windy weather, we may expect our female peregrine (known as the 'falcon') to remain with her egg to keep it warm. However, it is quite normal behaviour for the birds to leave the eggs for some considerable time until all but the last egg is laid. This has caused some viewers in the past to wonder whether the nest has been abandoned, but this is not the case. It results in all the eggs remaining cool and not developing much until the final egg is produced, so causing all the eggs and subsequent chicks to develop at the same speed and be at exactly the same stage at the same time.

We'll post more pictures later on if we have them.

Definitely no egg at 14:07 today, but then . . . 

. . .with her back firmly set to our new nest camera for over half an hour after laying the first egg of 2015, this was the first glimpse the Project Team managed to capture. 

The movement detector inside our Axis P3364-VE IP camera caught the actual moment of egg-laying this afternoon. Right at the start of the clip, look for the shadow of the egg dropping, and see if you can hear the dull thud it makes as it hits the gravel.


Monday, 23 March 2015

What is where?

Following questions and discussion on the blog, this post aims to explain where everything is on the cathedral tower...especially for newcomers and people who don't know Derby Cathedral.
View of the East face of the cathedral tower
As you can see, the  tower camera, (or 'pudding cam' as it has been called) is sited looking horizontally across the stone ledge well above the nest, with a view of Jurys Inn in the background. The three 'bumps' along that ledge are actually the 'rear ends' of three mythical beasts or 'grotesques' which the 16th century stone masons carved and fitted when the tower was being built. each grotesque has its head at the bottom and its bottom at the top! Those 'bottoms' are rounded and make ideal perching places for the peregrines. The right hand one is arrowed in the photo. The other two appear as black lumps to its left. If they had been carved with holes through their mouths to drain rain water from the roof, then they would be called gargoyles...but because the water is drained by a couple of lead pipes (in one of which, the left one, sits the pud cam) they are strictly 'grotesques'.
Am I a dog or what?
The large 'window' is actually filled with louvred wooden slats rather than glass, with wood behind to prevent any access by pigeons or indeed peregrines! The nest platform was screwed into the woodwork, carefully avoiding drilling or making any marks on the stonework on this Grade 1 Listed Building!
Looking down on the nest platform in winter

This photo, taken by Nick Moyes one December - and well before the nest clean-up, shows how the nest platform fits snugly around the stonework of the cathedral.

If you want to try a bird's eye view, try this aerial map, which allows you to view the cathedral from any direction. (Note that nearby Jury's Inn was still under construction when this picture was taken, and the re-laying out of Cathedral Green was also in progress.)

We hope this allows web cam viewers to understand the layout...let us know if not!

Nick B (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Ship shape and Derby fashion

As you can see, the nest has been cleaned and the cameras checked for the start of what we hope will be a successful tenth breeding season for our peregrine pair. Thanks to Nick Moyes, assisted by Ian Layton who we now know will be back with us for his third summer as Engagement Officer (part time) running the Watch Points among other things.
We are confident that these are the very same birds that originally colonised the tower back in 2004/2004.
Nick Moyes has abseiled down the tower to the nest platform
many times since it was installed in 2006
So the next question is: when will we get our first egg?
The Nottingham pair have just laid theirs but a pair in London were the first to lay an egg in the UK, doing so on 7th March - which is really early!
Four clutches of peregrine eggs
Last year our first egg was laid on 29th March. The earliest ever at Derby was in 2010 (23rd March) and the latest was in 2013 (on 4th April - the year of the late snowfall!).
Eggs are then laid at about two day intervals but not incubated until the third or (more usually) the fourth egg such that they all hatch about the same time.
Nick B (DWT)