I had a quick trip down to Haig yesterday. Despite my efforts earlier in the year, it is getting pretty overgrown. It is full of singing blackcap; willow, sedge, and reed warblers, reed buntings and a load of bird song I do not know. Lots of damsel flies and mating dingy skippers, plus one fresh four-spotted chaser. I also heard barking deer. There were no orchids yet and no hirundines which did surprise me.
During the previous ringing of the peregrine chicks it wasn’t possible to fit the Darvic rings due to a fault with them and so tonight, again with the aid of licensed bird ringers, the Darvic rings were fitted. The Darvic rings differ from normal metal rings in that they are big, bright and easily readable through binoculars or a spotting scope. It is hoped that by fitting these rings, our peregrines may be identified elsewhere in the country and we will gain an understanding into how far they move from the nest site. The adult female holds the territory around the cathedral and she will eventually drive the chicks out as they head towards adulthood.
Danny Kirmond, captain of the Wakefield Wilcats, is a keen follower on Twitter of Wakefield Peregrines and so he was invited along to watch the rings being fitted. There will be more on this story in the Wakefield Express this week
The webcam allows us to identify prey species which might otherwise go unobserved. On Sunday evening, Heather Gardner was watching the live images from the nestbox when the male brought in what she thought to be a swift. A look at the recorded video has confirmed this identification.
This brings the prey species count for the Wakefield peregrines to 20 but this number must rise as we see more footage from the camera.
It was good to see Wakefield’s peregrines and Wakefield Naturalists’ Society receiving recognition on this evening’s television news. The ITV weatherman Jon Mitchell did a good job of informing the public about the opportunity for seeing these exciting animals in the centre of Wakefield.
We hope to see more giant peregrines on the TV in the future.
In order to keep track of our young peregrines and find out where they head off to in the future, the chicks were today ringed by licensed and experienced bird ringers from the mid-Derby Ringing Group. This involved taking the chicks carefully from the nest for around 20 minutes to weigh, measure and fit a metal closed ring on the birds’ right leg. These small metal rings have a unique number on them which is logged with the Brtish Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and should the peregrine be found dead or watched at a nest elsewhere, anyone that can read the ring and check with the BTO will be able to find out that it was one of our birds.
The small metal rings are only really readable of the bird is retrapped by ringers or found dead or maybe watched on camera at another nest, so in order to make it more easy for the general birdwatcher to read, a bright coloured plastic ring is also fitted to the left leg, This large plastic ring is called a Darvic ring and is bright coloured and has large letters that should be able to be read through binoculars or a spotting scope while the bird is perched. Unfortunately, today there was a problem with the Darvic rings and they were therefore not fitted so as not to cause any problems with the birds in the future. New rings have been ordered and these will be fitted sometime later this week, The second disturbance of the birds will be very quick and kept to a minimum as the birds have already been close ringed, weighed and measured. Disturbing the birds at the nest for this short period of time for scientific purposes is done under licence and won’t cause any significant distress to the chicks or the adults.
After a great deal of hard work from a few very dedicated individuals, the live webcam feed is finally here. You can now enjoy amazing live images of the four peregrine chicks and follow their development in the nest. This is live footage from a webcam inside the nestbox and is recording in real time so, please do not be offended if you tune in just as dinner is served to the four hungry mouths!
To see the webcam, go to the peregrine pages from the menu bar or click HERE
There was a good turn out for the Askham, Bog walk today and the weather wasn’t too bad with bright skies and some sunny intervals. There was enough warmth to have a few insects on the wing including orange tip, green-veined white, large red damselfy and the hoverflies such as the footballer. The water violets were superb in both the pond and the damp woodland, while things like slender tufted sedge gave the botanists some identification challenges. As well as the dog violets, there were marsh violets to be seen and we did see the royal fern, a reserve speciality, but it was still a long way from its showy best.
On Tuesday, heavy rain fell for long periods and we had to wonder what state the young peregrines, which were just approaching one week old, would be in. A check of the video recordings showed that they looked almost untouched by the rain and the parents were continuing to carry out their duties very efficiently.
As can be seen, the male is working hard and he is bringing in so much food that it isn’t always needed immediately.
An interesting astronomical event took place today when the planet Mercury crossed the face of the Sun, appearing as a small, circular black dot against the much brighter disk of the Sun. The transit began at 12:12 and 19 seconds and lasted for seven and a half hours. The first image shows the planet as it first begins to move across the Sun.
A short while later, Mercury had moved.
The next chance to observe a transit of Mercury from the UK will occur in November, 2032.
These images were obtained using a spotting ‘scope, fitted with a mylar filter, and a Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone.
A check of the video recorder showed that all four eggs have now hatched. Peregrines begin incubation on laying the penultimate egg – in this case, the third – which explains why the first three eggs hatched within 24 hours of each other. The eggs were laid at intervals of two and a half days, so the fourth egg was on cue when it hatched two days after the third egg. Luckily, we recorded some footage as the chick struggled to break out.
The following morning, we saw the female feeding all four of the chicks. The newest chick is furthest from the camera.