Saturday, 23 May 2020

Further Update on May 23rd 2020

Our dedicated volunteer, Antony Pooles, has been keeping a beady eye on the peregrines this spring for us. He is employed as a 'key worker' quite near the cathedral and pops over in his lunch break to see what he can see.

Here is his latest report for which we are really grateful even though it sounds as if we won't be seeing any chicks this summer:

"Well here's another update and I may be the bearer of bad news (at least in terms of eggs/young for this season).
When I last emailed I was fairly convinced that incubation had begun.
The 'new' female had flown in a couple of times and had looked to have nestled straight down on something.
I'd witnessed what I thought was a changeover (I'm now thinking this may have been the female returning to her 'clutch' after a brief flight with the male) and my last sighting had been of a stretched wing and raised tail above the platform edge as incubation looked to be progressing.
As this is normally a quiet time of the breeding cycle, I have only visited three times over the last week (all roughly around 2 - 2.30pm).
My first visit lasted around 45 mins and at no point did I see any part of the female but wasn't worried since I was viewing from the ground at a steep angle so any movement wouldn't necessarily be seen.
After around 15 mins the male flew in calling and perched on one of the grotesques there was no movement or reply from the platform which I found unusual as the female has always been very vocal! I left with the male sitting on the grotesque and a feeling of unease...

My second visit was shorter (around 25 mins). The male was again on the grotesque and cut quite a lonely figure. This is quite an unusual position for the male as he normally leaves the tower for Jury's Inn when a female is about - his presence on the tower looked like he was defending a territory/advertising a vacancy?
Again there was no sight or sound from the platform.

Happier times - one of last year's chicks being ringed
Photo by Gillian Foxcroft
Today (22nd) I visited for around 45 mins, the male was on his grotesque and again there was no sign (or sound) of life from the platform. After around 20 mins there was a brief bout of calling (causing me to look up from the platform to the male) and in flew a pristine, gorgeous adult female Peregrine. A real cracking looking bird and definitely different to the 'new' female who always had a slight yellowish hue to her breast - one of the reasons I thought she might be a young bird.
By comparison, this one's breast was crisp white.
She bowed and sidled up to the male and then took flight (she has either a missing or loose tail feather that causes a gap to one side - something I hadn't noticed with the previous females).
The male took flight and the two circled together before first he and then she disappeared towards Friargate. All this and no reaction or sight of the 'incubating' female!

In conclusion I now believe that the 'new' younger female has abandoned the male or been usurped and replaced by another adult female (or possibly the old bird is back on the scene - with a bit of tail moult).
Anyway I think we can abandon any hope of successful breeding this year!
Goodness knows what the project team will find when they eventually manage to get up to the monitors in the tower when the cathedral re-opens>
Abandoned eggs? No eggs? Maybe even an incubating female fast asleep, sitting tight and refusing to believe her mate is off with another bird!"

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Further update from Antony Pooles and an eggy update

UPDATE 8th May:
Antony (see below) has today witnessed a change over at the nest platform so there are eggs for sure! Thanks Antony.

On 2nd May, our Long serving Watch Point volunteer, Antony Pooles, who walks past the cathedral from time to time en route to work in the city, reported thus:

"I've just seen the female Peregrine fly into the platform and nestle straight down on something - albeit on the wrong (slate) side of the platform.
So it's looking very like she's incubating something.
When laid and if viable (given this bird looks and acts like a different, younger and more naive female - and is also spending a fair bit of time off the nest) we'll have to wait and see.
Have seen no evidence of prey being brought to the platform so if there are eggs, they haven't hatched yet!
Peregrine photo (not at Derby) taken by and with 
permission from  Pauline Greenhalgh (her copyright)

Meanwhile, the male was on the Jury's Inn building. At least that's a reasonably constant theme!!"

So, things seem to be sorting themselves out and as Antony says, there may well be eggs even if they have been laid on what we regard as the 'wrong' side of the platform - the one where we put small pieces of slate as opposed to the other side which has gravel and in which, the (previous) female always laid her eggs. This is the side on which the better camera is focused...and that's why Nick Moyes dreamt up the idea of encouraging her to lay on gravel she could scrape a depression in rather than slates which she can't!

Thanks Antony....further updates welcome if you get a chance!

The Project Team