Peregrines on the Clock Tower
28 March 2011
Welcome to the 2011 season of Peregrines on the Clock Tower.
There has been plenty of activity around the tower in the last few weeks - in fact the adults have not left all winter. Perhaps more surprising is that 2 of the youngsters from last year have also been putting in occasional appearances.
3 weeks ago the young female was flying around calling for food when the adult male flew in clutching a bird in its talons. Then last week I was lucky enough to see the young male tearing at a carcass alongside his mother - who didn't seem to mind the intrusion, although he only butted in once she had eaten her fill!
The bad news this, as far as we're concerned, is it looks like they're going to use the nest on the north face of the tower. This will make life difficult for all of us trying to watch what's going on.
It's not all doom and gloom though, we can still see the nest - just not as well as the one on the east side - and we'll be able to see the adults bringing food into the chicks a little later in the summer.
Here's to a successful 2011 season.
The chicks are flying!
Well, it's all been happening in the last few weeks!
As you know from the last post, we lost one of the four original chicks around 23 May. On Saturday 29 May it was a rainy day and so we limited the event to the Museum. Then, at about 12.20 a lady rushed into the Museum to say that some people outside near City Hall had found a chick on the pavement and were "kicking" it to make it fly off. James and I rushed outside to see what was going on and there was a chick on the road, surrounded by people. It obviously had jumped the nest a bit too early, as it couldn't fly yet.
So we contacted Adrian Williams, local falconer who we're consulting with, who came down to check it over. He said it was fine, just a bit underweight. James and Adrian took the chick back to City Hall roof where the chick was placed just under the clock tower. By the bank holiday Monday, the bird had made it back onto the tower, but not to the nest.
In the week or two after we have only ever seen two juvenile birds at one time, so it looks as if the third one did not get enough food from its parents and was out-competed by its siblings. Sad news.
However, the remaining two are now flying! They're coming up against their own challenges as the gulls try to mob them as they practice their flying skills, but it doesn't seem to be deterring them from making significant progress. They're beginning to look quite adept, so do come down and see us soon, as we'll be seeing some aerial acrobatics as the young birds get taught their hunting skills by the adults.
Some sad news
One of the peregrine chicks has died. We are now down to three chicks in the nest.
Staff, and our peregrine-cam visitors, noticed yesterday that there were only two chicks in the nest. So our first thought was that we had lost two!
Luckily the third chick returned to the nest in the evening after having been on a journey around the clock tower ledge.
Today the RSPB project officer has spent the day looking for the fourth chick, but to no avail. It seems unlikely that the chick is still alive.
One possible explanation is that the chick was the weakest of the four, and that the hot weather over the last few days has been too much for it to cope.
The three remaining chicks look very healthy and have a very good chance of surviving, particularly as the weather seems to be getting cooler.
Feeding time at the peregrine nest
Feeding time for the Peregrine chicks
Some superb views of the adults feeding the 4 chicks today.
After last year's disappointment having 4 chicks this year is fantastic and they all look very healthy.
They are growing rapidly so keep watching to see how they are doing.
First hatchlings for 2 years!
It's official - the Peregrines on the Clock Tower have successfully produced young - the first since 2008. On Thursday 22 April at 2.40pm the female bird Stacey was seen at the nest with a fresh kill, carefully distributing pieces of it in the nest - but annoyingly we couldn't actually see any chicks.
However, our suspicions were confirmed over the next few days as we saw a white fluffy head appear in the nest....then another on Tuesday 27 April, then finally one more today! Today the male seemed to be doing a good job of bringing lots of food for the chicks, before taking a well earned rest right on the top of the tower - the rain wasn't going to spoil his kip!
The chicks are expected to fledge in late May, but will remain at the nest for several months, relying on their parents for food while they learn how to fly and hunt. As the parents teach their young the awesome flying and hunting skills that peregrines are renowned for, it will mean fantastic aerial displays and some amazing views for us down on the ground.
Calling all peregrine watchers!
The Peregrines on the Clock Tower viewing scheme is now open.
The RSPB will be showing you the Peregrines on the live nest camera in the main hall of the National Museum Cardiff from now until the end of August.
On certain days there will also be an information marquee outside the museum, where you can get an even closer view of the birds with telescopes.
Don't miss out on any of the action!
The female peregrine has been showing signs of incubating eggs the last couple of weeks. In fact, we think she started incubating the first egg on Wednesday or Thursday 17th/18th March.
After last years disappointment they have decided to use the nest on the east side of the tower which will be much better for viewing with our camera.
Fingers crossed the eggs hatch!
The peregrine camera has just been reinstalled on the roof.
Despite the building works going on here we have managed to get the camera up on the roof. With a little ingenuity and the construction skills of a colleague in the Department of Industry the camera has been mounted on a purpose built metal support.
All being well the camera will be live by the end of next week.
The Peregrines have been very visible around the clock tower all winter. In fact apart from a short period in the autumn when they were probably moulting they have been around continuously since their nesting attempt failed last summer.
Peregrines on the Clock Tower