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