Month: April 2015

Chick number one

By yesterday evening there was no sign of any breakthrough moment, with 4 eggs clearly still in the nest.  However, the behaviour of the adults suggested that something was afoot, as both birds held themselves a little off the eggs using their wings as props, as in the image below.

April 27

Presumably they’ll have been doing this as they will have been able to hear the chicks in the egg and by early this morning the first chick had hatched, though we don’t know exactly when.  However, by 06:20 a changeover revealed a chick. Below is a video capture from that time, provided by Ian Knowles at the University.

In the cold conditions here in Sheffield (there was a heavy frost and sub-zero temperatures on the night of 27th and snow on the windows this morning!), the adults have been sitting tight throughout the day, allowing only glimpses of any activity on the nest.  On a changeover this morning A. Bateman managed a great screengrab, copied below, showing one chick and also a distinct hole in the egg nearest the camera, evident as a pale spot.

April 28 1

Interestingly, the male has been very active in bringing food to the nest and in incubating.  As well as bringing in what looked like the remains of a Feral Pigeon early this morning, as on the weblink, he brought in another feed while I was having my lunch, though the female refused to budge and he took it away again without the chick having fed; perhaps warmth was the priority.

April 28 2

This evening, the female took over duties from the male at around 7 p.m. and seemed set for the night, though there was just the one chick still and the hole in the second egg looked no larger than it had this morning.  I’d expect at least one more chick to emerge tomorrow, as the eggs in a Peregrine clutch hatch quite close together.

April 27 3

My estimate of Monday proved to be a few hours early, but today’s first hatching provides us with a perfect symmetry with last year, when the fourth egg was laid on 27th March (as this year) and the first chick also hatched on 28th April.  So an incubation period of 32 days in both instances, as well as in 2013, although they were a week later then, with the first egg hatching on 5th May.

Plenty of action and excitement should follow over the next few days: hopefully by the end of the week we’ll have four healthy chicks but no doubt there will be some nervous moments between now and then.

Are We There Yet?

It’s been a quiet few weeks as the adults have been incubating, but things could start to liven up by the end of the weekend as the expected hatching date approaches.  My best guess is that the first egg may hatch on Monday, but a day either way wouldn’t be a surprise.  Last year the first signs were audible rather than visible as one webcam viewer could hear the cheeping of the chick inside the egg!  A tiny pale patch on the shell of the egg was the first indication that one of the chicks was pecking through and things moved pretty quickly after that.  So keep eyes peeled in the days ahead, and ears too!

One of the few interesting developments recently has been the presence again of a third bird around St George’s, which was chased away determinedly by the resident female, who came off the nest despite the male being perched up on the turrets.  It seemed that her extra size was important to chase off the intruder, which also looked to be a female, perhaps one of last year’s young still in the vicinity.  The photo below was taken at some distance, but does allow a very pronounced moustache bar to be seen – quite distinctive from either of the resident pair and similar to the head pattern of the third bird captured on the webcam a few weeks ago.  Another one to keep your eyes out for.

PG no 3 April 11

On the subject of last year’s birds, we’ve had news that an immature male, wearing a metal ring, has been seen on several occasions at Wakefield cathedral, where a Sheffield-built nestbox (courtesy of Jim Lonsdale and his team) has attracted a pair.  They have been seen copulating but it may well be that the young male is not yet ready to breed successfully.  It’s tempting to think that this may be one of the Sheffield fledglings, though without a webcam and/ or good photos it will be very difficult to know for sure.  Even with close views, it’s not been possible yet to read the ring of the resident male, but if you can manage it from the picture below, do let me know!

PG March 22 2015