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
young male peregrine chick fitted with a Darvic ring
part of the team: Left to right: Mark Watson (ringer), Danny Kirmond (Wakefield Wildcats), Francis Hickenbottom (project co-ordinator, Wakefield Naturalists’ Society)
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.
Darvic rings are easily identifiable through binoculars. The female chick has been fitted with 4Z
The peregrines have nested successfully again and we now have three chicks in the Wakefield Cathedral box! Two hatched between 22:30 and 23:45 on 3rd May and the third, between 14:00 and 15:00 on 4th May. We will add some images very shortly. The project to get live streaming is well under way, with minor issues still to sort, but we hope to have the feed online very shortly..
Francis has just sent one of the first images we’ve seen of the peregrine inside the nestbox – a major milestone in the Wakefield peregrine project! The camera was installed over the Christmas period and is currently recording images 24×7 and sending them to a DVR unit in the bell ringing tower. Ultimately, these images will be streamed live to the internet so that we can all watch the peregrines live in the nestbox. There is no doubt these are exciting times.
Wakefield cathedral peregrine inside the nestbox and looking at the camera in a suspicious manner!
Colin sent in these images of the peregrine specimen alongside a mounted specimen of a male sparrowhawk for size comparison. Our peregrine is a juvenile female of course and in all birds of prey, the female is substantially larger than the male. Male sparrowhawks are a small bird in reality and these photos show just how small he is compared to the peregrine and he would, in fact, make a snack sized meal for the peregrine if ever their paths crossed!
Francis just sent in these latest images of the peregrine family on the cathedral. These are taken using his phone on the eye piece of a telescope which gives remarkable results and shows clearly just how big and rapidly developing the chicks are!
I went into Wakefield to check on the peregrines this morning. I planned to go in early to catch them feeding but I waited for the mist to clear and I got there at about 8:30. I found two peregrines on the steeple, with one of them feeding on a pigeon. After a few minutes, the other bird took to the air and then swooped in to snatch the pigeon from the other bird. There was some screeching as it did this. Unusually, this bird then went onto the small pinnacle to the left of the nesting platform to feed. It looked as though there was little more than a few bones left of the pigeon.
The two birds sat for a while and the one that had been feeding first looked to have a bulging crop but I guess that they were still hungry because they both flew away and had not returned by 11:30. They headed north and west. I wonder weather the fog of the past two days has prevented them getting as much food as usual.
As an aside, Pauline found the remains of this woodcock at the base of the cathedral so the birds are still feeding well on a variety of birds that we probably weren’t expecting! Are they taking the woodcock as they migrate at night or are the peregrines hunting a woodland at night I wonder?
I went in to Wakefield earlier today to spend a few hours getting a clearer picture of what is happening on the spire. I got some pictures but these were taken by putting my phone to the eyepiece of my telescope, so the quality is low.
I arrived at about 7:30 and I found two peregrines on the north side of the spire. The larger of the two birds was sitting near the stone feature that has often acted as a larder and dining table in the past. One of the pictures shows this bird and some of the remains in the larder. This bird had obviously just fed and it spent time cleaning feathers and gore from its talons. A few crockets above it, I noticed that a lapwing had been stashed to be eaten later.
The smaller bird was perched near the lapwing. This bird flew away for a short time before returning and starting to feed on a starling. I did not see it carrying the starling when it returned but I might have missed this as I wasn’t using binoculars at the time. The starling’s head is visible in one of the pictures..
The larger bird moved to a different crocket and spent time feeding on a woodcock. One of the pictures shows this bird after it had fed. It is possible to see the bars running across the woodcock’s head. Feathers on the larder were a similar colour to those of the woodcock, so it may be that the peregrines have taken a number of woodcock.
I remained until 11:30 but the peregrines didn’t move again. I was hoping to see them showing some interest in the nesting platform but they were obviously too lethargic after their meal. Afternoon’s might be a better time to watch for activity.
The peregrines certainly seem to be at home on the spire, with lots to eat, so it is to be hoped that they have settled in for the winter. I will try to get into Wakefield whenever I can to watch for developments in the coming months.
This morning two peregrines were sitting next to each other high on the cathedral spire. One bird was obviously larger than the other and must have been a female. The horizontal barring on the larger bird indicated that it was an adult. Over the next hour, peregrines took to the air occasionally and flew around the spire. During a flight by the larger bird, a third peregrine appeared and followed it as it flew past the cathedral. On one of the crockets, where the smaller bird had sat for some time, a prey item had been stashed and could be seen protruding from the crocket.
This presence of more than one peregrine is a promising sign and it will be interesting to watch for signs of interest in the nesting platform in the coming months.