Sunday, 28 April 2019

Four eggs confirmed

Yesterday (after returning from holiday and finally wresting my laptop off my daughter who'd been using it for her GCSE exam revision for the last few days!) I managed to call in at Derby Cathedral to check out our cameras. The good news is, we definitely have a full clutch of four eggs, and expect these to hatch out in the first week of May.

Nowadays, a laptop is needed because modern 'IP cameras' can't be viewed directly from a TV monitor, like our old cameras used to be. But what they can do is deploy 'movement detection', which automatically records a short clip of whatever is happening on the nest platform directly to a built in SD card. Most often it's just a bit of shuffling around on the nest scrape, which isn't very interesting to watch. But, by wading through the recordings, we can unearth gems recorded over the last few days or weeks, like the one below. Here we see the female peregrine falcon being relieved by the smaller male (known as a tiercel) from her main duties of incubation. It confirmed that, just as in every year since 2007, we have had a clutch of four eggs laid at Derby.

The clip above was actually created by uploading two separate, higher quality video clips to YouTube, which had been automatically recorded moments apart. It's no longer possible to merge clips together on YouTube itself, so for a 'quick fix' I used a free online merging tool at If you'd like to view the much higher resolution HD versions separately, see here and then here.

Whilst we do still have an old analogue video recorder inside the cathedral's tower, it can only connect to our one remaining analogue camera, which nowadays we use just to show visitors inside the Cathedral's tower what's happening just a few metres away outside. Over the years we have gone through quite a few analogue video recorders, but eventually the wind-blown dust within the ancient stone tower tends to get inside their mechanisms, and they eventually fail us. With our latest (second hand) one  now on the blink, and with the camera not giving us such a good image, we've not been too fussed to strip down the recorder and try to get it working again. Our greater need at the moment is to reinstate our internet connection so everyone can watch our birds live.

Nick M
Peregrine Project Technical Advisor

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Incubation time and an update

28th April: as incubation continues it is now clear that we definitely have four eggs! Video clips showing them will be uploaded shortly....

Despite several visits to the tower to try to see the eggs, so far we have failed....and currently for various technical reasons, we haven't been able to access the video recorder which has been on the blink! We're working on that.
There has been a very chilly east wind blowing for over a week and that has meant that the female, now well into incubation, has been sitting very tightly on her precious eggs.
So, as usual each year, we are now in a very quite, inactive phase of the breeding cycle.

Sight of our first chick back in 2014.
Screengrab by Marski.

Incubation lasts for just over 30 days so it will be a few weeks yet before hatching begins.
We remain hopeful that the web cams will be back on stream by then. Rest assured we are doing everything we can to ensure that will happen.
Meanwhile, there are other peregrine web cams to watch both in the UK and abroad. And, indeed web cams on many other bird (and some mammal) species too if you are feeling the need.
For example, the Wildlife Trusts nationally have several web cams available. See here.
There's a Dutch peregrine web cam here . This is near the top of a big cooling tower, a very lofty perch indeed! Incubation is underway there as well.....

And worldwide try this site here . Take just one species (eg the white tailed eagle) and there are over 30 web cams available though they are all in the USA or Canada.
Happy viewing!

The project team

Friday, 5 April 2019

Second falcon egg and an update

Update on 11 April: by now our pair should have a complete clutch and have started incubation. Certainly when we have been up to look at the monitor in the tower she has been sitting very tight on her eggs and we haven't yet been able to see if there are indeed four or not. We expect there will be.
The cold winds from the NE and E blowing onto the nest will ensure she stays put as much of the time as she least it has been dry!

Sometime on the night of 4th April a second egg arrived. Because of the low light levels, the video below is low resolution.

Every year since 2007 we  have had four eggs laid, and this year is unlikely to be different. Not all hatch, nor to the chicks all survive to the point of fledging. But we have so far seen over 40 young peregrines take flight since the project began.

We can't be sure (because they're not ringed) but we still believe this is the same female who first arrived in 2006. However, we do know that our male falcon only arrived a few years ago, replacing the previous male, though we do not know what happened to him.

In past years we had to warn our webcam watchers not to be alarmed if they saw two or three eggs lying out in the cold, apparently unattended for hours at a time. This is quite normal for peregrines, who delay the full incubation process until all eggs are laid. This means that they all develop at almost exactly the same time, rather than hatching in a staggered manner like many other species.

Of course, with our current lack of any internet connection from the Tower, we can't bring you these live moments right now, but hope to be able to do so soon. (During this climb up into the cathedral tower to retrieve video clips, we adjusted the focus and resolution settings, so daytime videos should be sharper from now on.)

Oh, and thanks to everyone for their comments in the last post, and especially to Zebra Class who correctly forecasted this second egg. Well done Zebra Class!

While we wait for live footage, you might like to see other webcams managed by Wildlife Trusts elsewhere in the UK - click HERE. They cover barn owls, ospreys, peregrines and more....well worth a look!

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

First egg of 2019

A climb up Derby Cathedral's tower yesterday revealed the news we'd all been waiting for: - the first egg of the 2019 season.

Despite not currently having an internet link from the tower (and thus no live webcams at this time) we were able to directly access our cameras and retrieve a number of motion-activated clips. This suggests that the first egg was laid sometime between 22:30hrs on 31st March, and 03:00 on 1st April.

Whilst we were up in the tower (around 16:45pm) , we were able to witness a wonderful moment when the smaller male flew up onto the platform to join his partner. Together they stood, both with their heads bowed, calling loudly to one another, making "eeechupp-eeechupp" cries. After a few minutes of this courtship display the male flew off, leaving the now silent female alone with her new egg.

At this stage we can't promise when we'll have our webcam connections up and running again, but it's certainly great to be able to share these moments with all our blog readers.