The improvement in the weather, with some sunny days (finally!) has made viewing a bit easier, at least in the flesh. Over the last week one or both of the pair has been present on St George’s as often as not, typically perched on one of the round cornerstone ornaments below the ledge. Fortunately they’re often visible as I arrive or leave work, and even as I move around the office building, so it’s not too onerous to keep tabs on their presence. On Tuesday this week, for example, the male spent the entire morning perched on the same spot, even with the cranes in full activity, and was occasionally seen indulging in a bit of wing-stretching. The webcam, however, showed only an empty nest… I guess seeing isn’t always believing, or at least not seeing doesn’t mean not believing.
As the Twitter grabs show, there have been plenty of visits by one or other of the birds, with both present together on occasion, and on Wednesday 5th the morning saw a lot of activity.
Having left the webcam on as a background tab I could hear a lot of calling mid-morning and couldn’t resist having a peep! The male (spot the ring) was on the nest platform, which was interesting in itself as last year it was the female that was more visible on the platform in the earlier stages while the regular appearance of the male seemed to be an indication of more serious intent.
The male’s vigorous scraping, as above, certainly suggests a commitment to the nest.
Shortly after the male left the nest, following an extended stay, the female (above) arrived, with more calling, another feature of a breeding pair on territory, as birds are typically silent otherwise. She too stayed for quite some time, and continued the scraping of the gravel in preparation of the site.
More interesting behaviour followed, as she started pecking the back wall of the box. Last year this led to the removal of a considerable amount of the paint used to treat and colour the wood, creating what was generally reckoned to be a map of Iceland.
This year there’s no paint – one of several design improvements implemented by Jim’s team – but she gave the wood some determined attention, nibbling at it for several minutes. Could this be a testing of the surroundings and checking the durability of the nest site? Whatever the reason, it’s another insight into the breeding activity and behaviours of these wonderful birds in the heart of the city. The sun is due to shine this weekend, and things certainly look to be hotting up at St George’s!