20 March 2015

How to get an awesome nest record of a Peregrine!

Ed Drewitt writes:

"Since the first web camera was used on a Peregrine nest in Brighton back in the late 1990s, our knowledge of what goes on in the lives of Peregrines has come on leaps and bounds. Even back then the grainy, low resolution pictures that updated every minute (if you were lucky) gave us insights in to the lives of these then rare birds. Over time improved technology, infrared light, high definition imaging and faster broadband connections now means we can watch peregrines 24-hours and all year round. As a result we can gather information about what makes peregrines tick that even committed Peregrines researchers fifty years ago could never have achieved by watching nesting rural peregrines (under a licence) from afar."

Chichester Peregrine chicks - Graham Roberts

"Web cameras allow us to hear baby peregrines cheeping to their parents days before they hatch and discover what prey is being brought directly to the nest. We can record accurate dates of when eggs are laid and when they hatch. And usefully, from a ringing perspective, it allows us to observe who is who at the nest site. Cameras help us read ring numbers of Peregrines and follow individuals. More recently interlopers have been observed visiting urban Peregrine nests, identified by their plumage, gender or colour rings."

Peregrine - Fellowes

"At some nests, young birds from the previous breeding season have been observed visiting their parents and nesting site, some staying throughout the nesting season helping to incubate eggs and feed chicks; a form of cooperative breeding. This behaviour is likely to increase as the urban peregrine population increases further - it pays for the younger birds, often males, to stay with their parents for an extra year to develop their life skills and avoid getting beaten up by other Peregrines if they wander further afield. Web cameras are also useful for: detecting new breeding birds that have appeared within a pair; extra-pair copulations whereby a male or female Peregrine sneaks off to mate with a different bird elsewhere and increase their gene pool; detecting inbreeding and much more."

Sussex webcam - Graham Roberts

Ed - There are several nests that can be viewed online and some have just started laying over the last couple of days. A selection of some active ones are below:

Norwich Cathedral Peregrine
Sheffield Peregrine
Brighton Peregrine
Nottingham Trent University Peregrine
Bath Peregrine

An interesting behaviour that David Morrison reported to us recently regarded a brood from last year that fledged and one of the chicks joined another nearby Peregrine nest and was accepted by the parents. This chick fledged with it's new siblings several months later.

For more information on urban Peregrines click here for a review of Ed Drewitt's book.

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