Peregrine News 2017

Sun 25 Jun Thanks to Nick Dixon for his fascinating talk to the 30 people who packed into the St Clement’s Chapel during the Big Bash event, and thank you all for coming.

One piece of ‘hot’ news is that our young male JN from 2015 has been seen around Taunton with a female peregrine hatched at St John’s RC Church in Bath the same year. We know this thanks to our ringing programmes, and hope they may find somewhere to establish a nest site.

Fri 23 Jun As far as we know, both PP & PM have fledged and are around the Church being fed by the adults. PP stayed put in the nest box for rather longer than expected after PM had left, but eventually seems to have fledged with minimal fuss in the early morning of Tue 20 Jun, I think.

If you’re in the area, please visit St Michael’s Church on Sat 24 Jun, particularly from 2.30pm onwards, when Nick Dixon should be present to answer questions and point things out, with a formal Q&A session timed for 3.45pm. It’s all part of the St David’s Big Bash of Community Events around St David’s Hill.

Thurs 15 Jun After lots of balancing on the edge of the trefoil and wing flapping, PM fledged at 4.17pm on Wed 14 Jun. She went as far as the nearby flat roofs of Dinham Crescent, and spent the night there.
PM fledged
Thursday morning, Elizabeth found PM on the Church Choir Vestry steps; not a safe place with the School Run about to start. Local resident Tony carefully gathered PM and put her in a box for safety. About 9.30 our friendly Vet kindly came to give the juvenile a quick check-over and put her up on a roof. She seemed fit and strong and immediately flew off further down Dinham Crescent.
PM boxedPM with VetPM briefly roofedPM in Dinham Crescent
Around midday Nick Dixon found her down towards the Mill on the Exe, and later in the afternoon PM, now named PoppyMay by the children of St David’s School during Assembly with Curate Christopher, was spotted back near the Church.
Although she has gone quite long without food, she is flying well and roosting near the Church, so hopefully she will get the idea of returning to the Church Tower to be fed by the adults.
Meanwhile PP, named Princess Peach by the schoolchildren, has not yet fledged…

Tue 13 Jun At 6 weeks our 2 strong female chicks have developed their full juvenile plumage, with just a few hints of white fluff left. There is serious wing flapping practice going on, some of it jumping off the rock in the box, other precariously close to the trefoil opening, as they show increased interest in the outside world.

They are also now feeding themselves and fighting over food brought in by the adults. On fine days the adults seem to be absent for long stretches, probably clearing ‘their airspace’ of intruding or overflying threats, like buzzards, as fledging gets near.

While Thursday is our best guess for fledging from previous experience with female chicks, it could be any minute or any day now.

Congratulations to Nick & Jason’s Peregrine installation at Woking for successfully fledging 5 chicks this year.

Tue 23 May Our 2 chicks are 3 weeks old and the camera will be switched off for a while around 5pm this afternoon while they are weighed and ringed under licence. They look to be growing and developing well, starting to pad around the nest box & flexing their wings, and showing signs of feather development.

Also to inform that the 2 unhatched eggs will be removed under licence and sent for analysis. Thanks for your continued interest in the St Michael’s Peregrines. Richard, Nick, Jason.

Weighing and ringing went fine – we have 2 females this year who have been given coloured leg rings PP & PM. They are now exploring the whole of the nest box, some of which is out of sight of the camera – so don’t panic if occasionally you can’t see them. We are not expecting them to fledge until around 14-17 June.

Wed 10 May – so, a week on from the hatching of one egg around 3.30pm Tue 2 May and a 2nd egg around 11am Wed 3 May, it’s clear that the other 2 eggs are not going to hatch. This follows a similar pattern to the past 2 years where just 2 out of 4 eggs have hatched.

This may result from our adult Peregrines being relatively old now, meaning not all eggs are fertilised or develop well. However, it should give our adult a good chance to feed and raise 2 strong young chicks towards fledging in mid-June.

Enjoy the next few weeks on camera as the 2 fluffy chicks hopefully grow strong and pretty, and then go into the slightly messier stage of developing proper feathers.

I’ve had occasional issues with the video stream not displaying properly, but found that clicking the “full screen” symbol lower left in the image and back again usually recovers the nest box picture if refreshing the webpage doesn’t do the trick.

One of Nick & Jason’s other webcams, at Woking, is now watching a large group 5 chicks grow!

Sat 22nd April – and it’s high time I started a blog for this year’s Peregrine activity up on the Spire here at St Michael’s.

This is the 21st consecutive season of egg-laying at St Michael’s Mount Dinham; the first 11 used an external NE-facing shelf, since 2008 in the nest box mounted inside the SE-facing trefoil opening high in the Spire. This year Jason Fathers of Wildlife Windows and Nick Dixon have installed a new HD Camera in the nest box with a wider view including the trefoil opening from where the adults like to look out on their domain. After various issues with our broadband connection, the pictures have been clear and reliable since egg-laying began.

This is probably the “third generation” of breeding adults, with present male since 2005 and present female since 2009. There are pros & cons to Peregrines using such an enclosed breeding site. Indeed, are there any similar ones elsewhere? Adults, eggs and chicks have more protection from spring gales and summer storms during the breeding season, and from predators. But there may be risks from accumulation of debris (we have virtually no chance to clean it) – only 2 out of 4 eggs hatched again last year. But overall their record is good.

So, they laid their first egg at about 2am Fri 24 Mar, the same day as last year, just a few hours earlier.
First Egg 2017
A 2nd egg was laid about 2.45pm on Mothering Sunday 26th Mar, about 60 hours after the 1st, and a 3rd egg at 11.55pm on Tuesday 28th Mar, 57 hours later.

The 4th & final egg was laid at 10.16am Fri 31 Mar – Wendy Bartter has kindly made a youtube video of it (as she has of the other 3 eggs being laid). Wendy has a Peregrine specific YouTube account, and also links from her and the @StMikes_Exeter twitter accounts. And use the “Peregrine Falcons” link across the top of this Blog page to go to the Webcam view.

The adults are now just over 3 weeks into the task of Incubation, and seem to be doing it well as usual. There should be just under 2 weeks till hatching, which if timings are similar to last year would most likely be on 2nd or 3rd of May…