Friday, 31 March 2017

In memory of a fine peregrine

It is perhaps appropriate to look back on the life of the male who, until recently, had been present on Derby Cathedral probably since 2004 and possibly before that.
This wonderful photo of him was taken by Graham Whitmore in one of the very early years.
He looks as if he's waving to an adoring crowd below whereas in fact he was just about to preen his head:
As you can see his eye ring and cere (at the base of his beak) are a bright yellow indicating a mature adult so we think he was at least three years old in 2006 and possibly older.So this year he would have been at least 14 years old we think.
The male in about 2007 by
Graham Whitmore

Within a week of the first platform going up (in April 2006), the male had flown down to it and enticed his new mate to follow. That first year three chicks were eventually reared, several weeks later than in any subsequent year due partly to the very late arrival of their new nest and partly perhaps because this was te female's first clutch.
Our city peregrines are a good deal safer than those living out in the countryside so whatever has happened to him, he's certainly enjoyed a far longer life than most other males in the county.
Unless he was already dead when the newcomer turned up there will certainly have been some sort of fight since males don't relinquish their hold over a female or a nest site without one.
It is unlikely his body will ever be found....but it isn't impossible if, perhaps it is on a Derby roof somewhere.
Most other urban peregrine pairs we are aware of have changed mates for whatever reason much more frequently than Derby.
At another urban nest site in Derbyshire, the male has changed at least three times in only some seven or eight years since breeding first started there
One male probably flew into the building it was nesting on in a bad storm, another was found dead, presumed to have been killed by an intruder and a third was found dead and on xray had shot in his body.

So the change at Derby is quite a shock to us having had the same pair all these years.
Together they have reared 37 chicks to the fledging stage a very high productivity rate.
So as a new era starts, there's a lot we owe to our 'old' male.
The Project Team

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

A new male at Derby

Yesterday it became apparent that a new adult bird with a small ring on its left leg was on the platform and was behaving as if it was the male of the pair. It was first spotted yesterday by Helen who is a teacher and was showing the web cam to her class. Some of her children's young eyes could see the ring clearly. We're really impressed by this bit or original observation.

We've checked back our recent camera footage, and the two clips from 27th March below clearly show this new, ringed, male bringing in food as part of the courtship ritual. A second video clip later that morning shows the ring even better.

This video by Wendy also shows the ring very clearly as do these screen grabs by Kate, watching from Devon. This demonstrates just how effective all you webcam watchers are in keeping us informed of what's going on on a daily basis.We have checked back through Wendy's YouTube channel on which she puts all the video clips she makes. So far, we've not been able to see evidence of a ringed bird earlier than this.Would you like to give it a try?  If so, here channel is here

Ring on left leg showing clearly
Note the ring here also

So it begins to look as if the male who had been at the cathedral since at least 2004 has died or at least been ousted by this new male.

So it begins to look as if the male that had been at the cathedral since 2004 has either died or has been ousted, or even killed, by this new male.
What we don't yet know is when this changeover took place - so we've had a look back through some of the video clips that Wendy Bartter made from our webcams earlier this season. What we can see is that nest scraping and food exchange is still happening. But we've only managed to spot a ring as far back as 16th March. If you fancy trying to help by looking through these clips yourself, check out the myriad of videos Wendy has posted on YouTube, and let us know what you spot.

Footnote: Wendy subsequently found this video clip below from 12th March, the latter half of which (2min:30sec in) clearly shows a quite agitated male bird repeatedly flying back up to the nest ledge, whilst calling loudly. (at 2:56 one can imagine a ring - at other times one can't see one) This also appears to coincide with other reports that our adult male hadn't been seen on the nest ledge much around this period.

What effect this swap has on the female, we don't know. She certainly looks well pairing up at the moment. Of course, this could mean a delay in egg laying.... but if not, stand by for any day now . . .

The Project Team

Thursday, 23 March 2017

While we wait for an egg......and a possible change of male?

Update 27th March: Helen and others seem to have seen a ring on the left leg of the bird that is assuming the male role. If that's correct either our old male has died or been ousted and the new male is busy courting our female. If anyone gets good screenshots of the ring do please put them on our flickr site and let us all know via a comment or send them to . Many thanks.

While we wait for our birds to lay (see the previous blog post for likely dates), here are the links to some of the other peregrine projects in the UK with thanks to the Leicester Peregrine Project for compiling it.
Peregrine projects have really taken off in the last few years as you can see. If you know of any more do send us a 'comment' with the link.

Aylesbury Peregrines
Malham Cove Peregrines (nb. non-urban)
Shropshire Peregrine Group (nb. non-urban)
York Peregrines

The Project Team

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Derby is always late......

As the first eggs start to be reported elsewhere in the UK (for example Nottingham's was on 17th with a second egg already!) it's tempting to think that our Derby birds should be laying any day now.
However, despite having the same birds since 2005/6. the Cathedral's peregrines can be as much as a fortnight later than the early egg layers like those in Nottingham.
The very earliest date for a first egg at Derby was 23rd March in 2008.
2015's clutch of four.

The latest was 4th April in 2013 though in the first year (2006), the first egg would have been much later - we had no cameras up then of course but the first chick to fledge did so on 7th July whereas in the last eight years, first fledging has always been in the middle of June.
The mean date for a first egg starting in 2007 is 29th March, a day on which first eggs have been laid in three of the ten years to date.
So we have maybe some ten days to wait yet......
Do please keep on adding comments with news of what our birds are doing if you will (of course it would be impossible to stop you!!).
And finally a big welcome back to everyone who is now returning to look at our web cams and blog as things start to hot up!
Who will be the first to spot an egg?

The Project Team