Saturday, 25 January 2014

Let courtship begin....and two footnotes!

As we progress towards February and the weather remains mild, we can expect to see our adult birds spending more time on the nest platform.
Currently it needs a bit of a 'spring clean' - as do the cameras. So, sometime next month an abseil will be arranged to carry out the necessary annual maintenance work.
January 2012:  preparing to abseil down to clean up the nest 
First, the prey remains will be collected and lowered down to the nave roof for later analysis. Second, the gravel will be refreshed and treated with an anti-bacterial spray. Third, the platform will be thoroughly checked to make sure it is in good shape and that the drainage holes are clear. Fourth, the cameras will be cleaned and re-adjusted. And finally, the abseilers will drop down onto the nave roof below, keen to get inside and warmed up!
Cleaning up the platform 2012

The peregrines take little notice of all this activity and usually return to the tower later the same day. How lucky they are that their nest gets such VIP treatment!
If you have not seen the adults displaying to each other and also scraping out a depression in the gravel then there are several video clips from previous years available on You Tube. Search for VC57UK on YT and all the 50+ video clips should appear together such that you can select the one you want to see.
Job done! So down to the nave roof......

The other way to find the clips (and the blog posts which describe what's going on) is to scroll down this blog looking for the 'SEARCH THIS BLOG' window on the right hand side. Put 'courtship' into that search and several posts will appear, most with the relevant video clip right there, ready to start.

If you see nest scraping or head bowing/courtship displays in the next days and weeks then please do put a comment on the blog so we know what's happening. If it is a really good sequence we may even be able to convert it into yet another YT clip!

Footnote: taking some folk up the top of the tower the other day, we noticed three men on the top of Jurys Inn just above the two falcons. Whether they could see the birds (and visa versa) I'm not clear but they certainly weren't far away were they?
Photo by Abi Ashley
Second footnote: Feb 4th - Not for the faint hearted!
Soon after coming down from the tower this afternoon (and failing to see any peregrines on Jurys Inn to which they normally repair if anyone is on the tower) we photographed this abseiler trying to re-adjust the JI lettering. 
From that position there is a sheer drop of over 200 feet (in old money).
This may explain why our birds had gone temporarily awol! One was back later....so nothing to worry about......
The Jury's out .....of line!
Even this photo doesn't show the whole drop!







36 comments:

Kate Bunting said...

Someone on a mailing list I subscribe to has posted this link to film of falcons hunting:
http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/episode/2014/01/25/january-25-2014/index.html#1

Caroline said...

Happy New Year to everyone! I thought this morning that I'd clock in to see if there were any signs of the mating season beginning and found your post! Thank you team :) It is blowing a gale here in Cheshire but one can but hope for Spring round the corner - and without the dramas of last year's egg-laying in the snow! Best wishes.

Phoebe said...

I just looked in to see an adult on the scrape with fresh prey, it looks like a collared dove and still with the head on.

Mo Cole said...

Hi people.... Just logged on 7.40 3rd feb 2014.....first time this year.... Mr /Mrs P just arrived on stream 2 with the supper.... Lets hope this year will be as good as last.... Happy New Year to all.... Mo Cole x

Mo Cole said...

Ooops sorry it is stream 1..... Its an age thing lol... X

Nick B said...

Hi Mo - HNY to you too and thanks for the observation!
I'll be down there tomorrow with some folk from a big local company so we will be looking out for our birds - but more on that later!
Nick B

Lorraine said...

I was watching the houseproud Mum fussing and hovering atop the prospective nesting hollow inside the scrape, around 2.30pm this afternoon. Now happy with her feather clearance, she's spending time on the scrape ledge.

Little does she know.... she's about to get a visit from the "Sixty Minute Makeover" team!

Ooooooh - can hardly wait !!

Nick B (DWT) said...

Hi Lorraine: Ian and I were up the tower with our group this afternoon but didn't see the birds then - though one returned soon after we all left I'm told! Very annoying. Mind you, an abseiler was fixing the Jurys Inn lettering at about 4pm (and maybe earlier too) so perhaps he had sent the birds off out of town for awhile!
Nick B

Lorraine said...

Well, the high winds have been battering Plymouth today big time (whoosh... there goes another Plymothian flying passed my top floor window!) and I couldn't even get over the Tamar Bridge to rescue Mum when her electricity went off in St.Dominic (now thankfully back on) I mustn't complain though, as so many people are left in anguish tonight.

Anyway, I'm presently fascinated by the inner "time signal" (for want of better phrasing) that causes the falcon's deliberate intent to begin her nest preparations.

The new BP shows the area the falcon has already cleared within the scrape.

I wondered if this behaviour kicked in at the approx same time each year, regardless of the temperature and weather (ie, purely following an instinctive urge ?) or, does the falcon actually choose the time herself, by some inbuilt ability to "sense" the weather yet to come, (ie., she can "choose" to delay egg laying ?) Also, is her clearance of feathers from the scrape a "visual" signal to the tiercel that she is ready for courtship?

Even before the new season has begun, these birds never stop being a joy to ponder. Just to have a record for my own interest, to compare with future years, and even though we have seen the falcon contemplating the nest hollow a few times this year, I wan't to post the date 04/02/14 as the first recorded full on clearance with intent by the falcon!

Sue Peregrino said...

Sorry to go dreadfully off topic but I just wanted to say how delighted I am that Derby's Bombadier has won the work to construct the Crossrail rolling stock. Good on you Derby, wonderful news for "railway city" and its workers. :)

nick said...

Also sadly bad news for Derby Sue - we just lost The Sanctuary vote at the planning committee meeting by 6 votes to 5...
nick B

Sue Peregrino said...

(Bother! just typed a huge comment and managed to lose it, here goes with mark II)
To respond to Nick's comment above, yes Nick, I'm as upset about the SHAMEFUL decision on The Sanctuary as I'm delighted about Bombadier. I can't think of any better way of summing the loss of The Sanctuary up than Chris Packham's words "A VILE ACT OF WANTON DESTRUCTION" What a shame that Derby is blighted with so many people on their council who fit that description. Even worse that there are government agencies who are the same. This battle is lost, but if it's now war, then the war is far from lost and all of us on the side of right will not allow VILE ACTS OF WANTON DESTRUCTION to happen again. THANK YOU to all who founght this battle so valliently and so so sorry the vandals won this time.

Lorraine said...

I can't believe this uncivilized vote by the planning committee, despite so many objections from renowned quarters. I feel sure it's rooted on that vile principle of all evil......MONEY !

Wasn't it Gandhi who once said something along the lines of -

" Judge a nation by the way it judges it's animals "

Well, this judgement from Derby Planning now very clearly exposes the monetary agenda and downright greed of those individuals responsible. Your cards are marked Derby Planning...BADLY DONE... and

SHAME ON YOU !!

nick said...

thanks for your comments Sue and Lorraine. We've had fantastic support as indicated by over 1000 people putting in objections and over 50 turning up in the rain to protest (twice) outside the council house.
Nick B

Nick B said...

Lorraine: I think day length is a major factor in determining when birds start to get into breeding mode. Obviously this varies with different species. Some nest extremely early (raven and crossbill for example) while others nest late depending on food sources and when they are maximal for the chicks.
Also in long lived birds like peregrines the female's age plays a part and perhaps also the state of the pair bond.
Nick B

Sue Peregrino said...

I'm certainly looking forward to hearing the views of "the man on the Derby omnibus" about the "vile act of wanton vandalism" at The Sanctuary once the peregrine watchpoints start up again (assuming there ARE to be watchpoints) IMHO, peregrine breeding time has many variables and mysteries. There was quite a variation at different sites last year. The Notts pair bred very early, as in previous years, and ended up sitting in what looked like an igloo incubating aggs. Derby bucked the trend of getting earlier with age and went late, thereby very cleverly missing the worst of the extreme late weather. How did they "know". This is a total mystery that we'll never know the answer to.
In case of interest to anyone, the Aylesbury site is looking promising. The building had some extensive essential maintenance over several months. It was totally encased in scaffolding and netting, which obviosly will not be used by any peregrines. The old platform on the 12th floor, at cleaning time, was found to be falling to bits, so a new one was installed. Over the last couple of weeks, the scaffolding has descended to about the 7th floor and our birds are back in residence! Hurrah! We can't see what they're up to yet as the webcam will not be switched on until later. So Derby, you may only have limited and mucky webcam views but it's way better than at some other sites.
It's not just the peregrines beginning to think of breeding, I have seen swans mating and other birds behaving territorially. Our Chilterns specialists, the red kites, have been observed flying with twigs in their beaks.

Sue Peregrino said...

I thought those images of the work on Jury's were really fascinating. I couldn't have done that abseil to save my life, not even if there was a chance to get near the Derby peregrines! I have in the past made a point of staying at the hotel though, specifically for peregrine reasons (although they didn't oblige on that occasion) That face of the hotel really is formidable. In the image posted on the blog, there are at least 2 lower floors missing PLUS there is a further drop as there is a recess for the basement car park.

Lorraine said...

Sue, I'm so pleased to hear the scaffolding is at last coming down at Aylesbury. To know the peregrines have returned undeterred is just great news and I know how pleased you must be.

I'm really looking forward to further developments there as the breeding season approaches and the new platform will hopefully produce a well deserved brood this year.



Don Newing said...

I know that it's the quiet period at the moment, but have you given up on the Facebook page? No postings on there since last August.

nick B said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
nick B said...

Don: sorry that the FB page (run by just one of the team) has gone into hibernation. It will be revived in March I feel sure. All due to pressures of other part time work, the mammoth task of trying to save a local nature reserve, writing a book on the Flora of the county, dealing with a famil bereavement and managing a young family.....
It's been a difficult six months and something had to give.
Nick B on behalf of Nick M

Sue Peregrino said...

Don, I think that "superman" Nick M does actually manage to send out the occasional tweet as @derbyperegrines You could start up your own unofficial one, as I've done with the Aylesbury site if you're feeling particularly impatient. I'm not a member of the Aylesbury project but I occasionally tweet as @bucksperegrines Lorraine - we were pretty confident our pair would return since we're very short of suitable sites in Bucks. County Hall is the only skyscraper we have and we have no cliffs or quarries or similar high places. Our pair have always been very good about taking to changes, albeit they are always very gentle changes around the platform. Their only enemy so far has been weird weather, fingers crossed the weirdness in 2014 will settle down any time soon.

Helen said...

Good to see Stream 1 is back up and running, although there are no peregrines in view at the moment! No doubt they are sheltering from the wind somewhere.

Helen said...

Oops, sorry I meant to say Stream 2 is back up and running!!

Lorraine said...

Thanks for the tip-off Helen, I automatically go straight to Cam No.1 and hadn't noticed that No.2 was now working again.

Both birds are presently in view - the falcon on the scrape ledge and the tiercel on the tower ledge in the sunshine. Such a treat to see them both in real time again and they both look in fine form.

Lorraine said...

...........both just flew off, so I'll watch a while to see if they return with anything......

Lorraine said...

4.40pm Falcon on scrape edge watching for potential meal, flew off and returned with catch soon after. Can't tell what it is other than dark with flashes of white so could be a magpie

Lorraine said...

Falcon had a good feed ( BP ) - then the tiercel landed approx 5.15pm and so falcon flew off.
He didn't seem interested in the remains of her catch before flying off himself. Me thinks he was just asking her if she was doing anything special for Valentines tomorrow, nudge nudge, wink wink !

C'mon you two, get smooching - we won't look - promise !!

Helen said...

Both birds around late this afternoon. Some head bowing and nest scraping taking place.

Lorraine said...

There seems to be more frequent visits to the scrape from both parent birds just lately. Both were inspecting each side of it around 5.15pm, so maybe it's a means of bonding again, prior to the start of courtship. Lets hope a more normal climate will soon return to assist their breeding.

Watching her, alone now on the tower ledge,( 6.02pm )she appears as strong and magnificent as ever. This beautiful creature is set to keep us spellbound over the coming months. Her grace will delight our eye, her endurance will provoke our own resolve and her nurture will keep us humbled !

Helen said...

One of the peregrines on the tower has just brought back what looked to be live prey. Seems to be quite a biggish bird, with a white wing-bar ... teal perhaps?

Phoebe said...

Both were in the scrape, one either side head bowing.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't noticed cams 1 and 2 were working as I have been tuning in to cams 3 and 4 trying to listen to the bells before the service and at practice but nothing being transmitted? so have been rather disappointed all winter.
I did wonder if it was my machine, which can be quite temperamental!

Anonymous said...

Both Falcons are there tonight, one on the Corbel above the scrape and one on the edge of the scrape. Linda

Lorraine said...

And both there again earlier tonight Linda, with the falcon alone now overnighting. Cam sightings do seem to be increasing as the birds begin to spend more time together around the nesting site.

It's a shame anonymous missed viewing through Cam 1 and more recently Cam 2, whilst Cams 3 and 4 had stopped transmitting. I may be way off track technically, but if problems do arise regarding the computers access to the Cams, then I do know of something called " Adobe Flashplayer " which is a safe, free tool to download and used by many to enable better connection via the 'machine' and Live Cams and such stuff. I'm sure you may already have it installed, but just in case, it's a handy tool to know of and maybe consider, should you ever have probs viewing the Cams.

It enables me to clearly view at this time, ( Dec - May ) the returning Humpback whales, to their breeding grounds offshore Lahaina on the Hawaiian Island of Maui, where I was fortunate enough to live and watch in person back in 1982. They are extremely important to me, as I've actively championed the plight of all whales since way back in the sixties when people still referred to them as " fish " Now of course, we all know better!

I remember being prompted to install Adobe Flashplayer when I first discovered and tried to view the Live Cams there,( which you can even control the angle and zoom of ! ) I soon after discovered the lovely Derby cams and the world of the Peregrine then opened up for me.

Yes I know, enough chat - sorry folks! A lovely view of the falcon on the ledge up near the cam right now as I tune out. Night all.

Lorraine said...

The falcon was still on the scrape ledge when I had a quick look-in at around 2am this morning, and also saw her once or twice this afters, though haven't tuned in to see the tiercel yet today.

Nice to read the latest Project report about RR and think it's just great to have them on board. It will be interesting to follow their progress in obtaining better local awareness (and beyond) of the significant attraction, quite literally nestling within their midst! Lets hope any necessary involvement by the recently disgraced Planning Committee can recognize a clear "true" potential when they see it, and that any input by them isn't clouded by economic fog!