Although it’s been quiet on the blog for the last few months, we’ve been busy behind the scenes making sure everything is in place for the 2015 breeding season. A lot of people have helped ensure we’re all set for what we hope will be a fourth consecutive breeding attempt by our resident pair. The nest has been cleaned to reduce the risk of infection and parasites, and a second webcam has been installed to provide a panoramic view. In the screengrab below (at an experimental stage) the female was in the box as the male flew in to land on the perch, though he’d have remained invisible with just the original camera. Many thanks to everyone involved in getting all of this sorted, notably Karl Evans, Ian Knowles, Jim Lonsdale and Paul Leman.
After various trials, this new webcam arrangement is now available to view and should provide much enjoyment over the months ahead as well as the chance to learn more about the birds’ behaviour.
Another important development since last year is the near completion of the new ‘Diamond’ building on the site to the west of the church, which has meant the departure of the cranes and (more importantly) the crane operator. Thankfully, the birds do not seem unduly troubled by the new building, which is a little lower than their platform, and they have been regularly on the platform and surrounding ledges.
Back in January the pair was engaged in courtship bowing on the platform, pictured above pre-clean out, apparently part of the process of reaffirming their pair bond. And since then the male in particular has been spending quite a bit of time scraping out what will become the nest, as in the screengrab below.
The pair has also been observed copulating on the roof of a hotel in the city centre in the last few days, so things are definitely looking promising. On a visit yesterday the male was on the perching post when I arrived, but the female flew in soon afterwards but remained out of sight of the camera on one of the turrets. Further indication that they have occupied their territory came when she made a couple of sorties to chase off Crows that flew across the churchyard, although the local Magpies were below bothering with, despite their chattering and inspections. On returning from one flight, the female flew low overhead and provided a blood-tingling moment as she fixed me with a stare.
So the 2015 season is under way, with fingers crossed for another successful season. Updates to the blog will be made from time to time as things start to take shape. It’s likely to be a few weeks until any eggs are laid, but no doubt plenty to watch and enjoy in the meantime.