Tuesday, 22 May 2018

First Watch Point is this Saturday (26th May)

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...!