Norwich Cathedral Urban Peregrine Project 2014 – Update 03

Egg Number Four for the Norwich Peregrine Pair!

End of March 2014 Round Up

The fourth egg arrived at 03:30 am this morning: the moment of the 4th egg being laid (not at all obvious) is captured in the video clip below and then the first glimpse of the full clutch as she moves to settle on the eggs for incubation:

0610 am this morning. First daylight view of all four eggs. Male comes in to take over incubation after female departs. The feather on his beak suggests that he passed food to her – probably in mid air, a spectacular sight – just before is came to the box.

The video clip captures this:


This is a still of the female preparing to depart the nest at day break and the male bird approaches
This is a still of the female preparing to depart the nest at day break and the male bird approaches
The male bird inspects all four eggs for the first time and takes over while the female feeds and ‘stretches her wings’.
The male bird inspects all four eggs for the first time and takes over while the female feeds and ‘stretches her wings’.

Lin Murray, Press Officer for the Hawk and Owl Trust who run the Peregrine webcam and the Watch Point says:

“We are delighted that the Norwich peregrine pair seem to be taking the egg laying stage in their stride this year. We have four lovely eggs with the possibility of a fifth to come in the next 48 hours. However, this is only the start of a long and arduous couple of months for these birds and their family. Mother Nature is fraught with danger so we wish these gallant birds well. Stay tuned!”

The Round Up of the Week So Far

Well that’s what you might call a ‘Whirlwind Week’ for the Hawk and Owl Trust’s peregrine team for Norwich Cathedral. It started peacefully enough, albeit with the residual tension of a possible re-visit by the intruding falcon from the week before. Then, taking us a bit by surprise, our resident female laid her first egg of the season at 15:04 on Thursday 18th – some 3 days earlier than last year. This was accompanied by much euphoria in our camp, very quickly followed by the realisation that what seemed to be a sizable chuck of the rest of the world was doing the same thing and clamouring for information. The team sprang into action in a blur of tweets, Facebook posts, phone calls, YouTube video clips, SMS messages, webcam images and emails, all trying to feed the insatiable mass with the facts they craved.

Any thoughts that interest in the Norwich Cathedral Peregrines might have ebbed over the winter were instantly dispelled. Quite the contrary in fact. Our faithful following public are if anything more enthusiastic than ever. It’s grown into quite a global community now and set to grow further if the response to Twitter and Facebook are anything to go by. Our posts to Facebook alone this week have reached almost 100,000 people. It is really satisfying for the team to see that so many people are truly interested in watching the ‘story of life’ unfold for this pair of wild peregrine falcons and playing their part in the complex interweave of the natural world.

Meanwhile, amidst all this human kerfuffle the peregrines just got on with it. Tending the egg and making sure it didn’t get to warm or too cold. Right from the start the little male quickly showed that he was a ‘new man’ and keen to play his part in rearing his offspring. Too keen for the female on occasions as she would make it clear with ‘that look’ if this didn’t meet with her approval and she wanted to incubate the eggs. Being about one third smaller than the female he has little choice but to concede, although he does try to tough it out now and again. He never wins though.

A tad over 57 hours later, just as we were starting to get some semblance of order restored in the office, the second egg arrived. Once again there was little drama from the female and once again the little male showed great interest in the new arrival. He clearly has a strong parental instinct and a close bond with his female who by now was allowing him to guard the egg when she needed to stretch her wings for a while.

Then on Sunday, almost 60 hours to the minute since the second egg was laid, the third egg arrived. The now common ritual of the male coming to the nest shortly afterwards to inspect the new arrival was repeated.

At this stage the eggs are not being fully incubated by the adults so it is common to see them left completely uncovered for quite a while. This is quite normal for peregrines, as they will not start full incubation until around the time that the third egg is laid. Until then the parent birds will ensure that the eggs are kept warm enough to remain viable. This strategy ensures that the eggs hatch at closer intervals than they were laid. Last year the first three eggs hatched within 19 hours.

The adult may not be in the nest at times but be assured that they are not far away. Probably sitting on a ‘crocket’ on the cathedral – the little protrusions that adorn the spire – watching out for marauding black backed gulls looking for opportunities to steal and egg or, later, a chick. Its a risk of life that all animals in the natural world have to cope with, even apex predators like the peregrine falcon. Being the fastest bird in the world doesn’t provide any benefit in this regard.

Remember, live streaming video from the nest cam is on the Hawk and Owl Trust web site www.upp.hawkandowl.org/live/. Up-to-the-minute updates are posted on our Facebook pages at www.facebook.com/HawkandOwlTrust and tweeted by @hawkandowluk.

The 2014 Norwich Cathedral Urban Peregrine Watch Point in Cathedral Close will be open again from Tuesday 1 April 2014 at 10.00am.

4 Responses to Norwich Cathedral Urban Peregrine Project 2014 – Update 03

  1. I lived beside the cathedral last year and to watch the daily drama through telescopes/binoculars as well as the webcam. This year I’m back on the west coast of Canada and so grateful for the webcam. Thanks to all the volunteers who keep this going.

  2. Lovely privilege this too be able to watch them live!! The African Peregrine here in South Africa do not nest on buildings like other peregrine species. However there are 2 known nests on 2 dam walls, other than that at this stage we only have Lanner Falcons breeding on buildings in the cities, even though Peregrine’s use the tallest buildings to roost and hunt from out of the breeding season.

    Regards
    Charles

  3. It is wonderful to again be awed by the Peregrines, albeit vicariously from Australia. It is something we look forward to each day and we want to thank the fantastic team of volunteers who work hard to enable us to see something that is so special. With our winter approaching, it gives a definite warmth to our day and we look forward to watching them develop and fledge.
    Well done to the Hawk and Owl team.
    Steve and Gabrielle

  4. I live in the U.S.A, but I was born in Norwich.I was home last year and saw the falcons, and very glad to be able to watch them this year on web cam. I watch every day.
    It’s part of my day’s routine,
    Thankyou. Dorothy

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