Another successful season ends

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As this year’s peregrine falcons breeding season draws to a close, we’d like to say big thanks to all of you avid viewers for following the live camera again.

With our four new chicks appearing to have now fledged the nest, we’re glad that it’s been another successful season.

As most of you will be able to tell from the poll, the four names chosen for the birds are Milly, Molly and Mandy. The names are taken from a series of children’s books written and illustrated by Joyce Lankester Brisley which date back as far as 1928.

These names are in addition to the smallest chick being named Frank Jennings, a man who has worked for Nottingham Trent University’s Estates Department for 25 years and who retires this summer. Among the many things Frank achieved with the university, he built the original nest box that the falcons first began to breed in.

Once the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust are comfortable that the birds have successfully fledged, please be assured that any rings in the nest box will be collected and handed to the Royal Pigeon Racing Association.

Thank you for your interest and we hope that you will continue to follow the falcons next year.

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Time to name our baby falcons

Name our falcons
It’s that time of year again where you get your chance to help name our latest flock of young falcons. A big thank you goes out to everyone who has helped put suggestions forward. After much deliberation at Falcon HQ we have come up with the following shortlist to name our three female birds.

1. Milly, Molly and Mandy
Suggested by Jenny Garrett. The names are taken from a series of children’s books written and illustrated by Joyce Lankester Brisley, staring the character Milly-Molly-Mandy. The books date back as far as 1928.

2. Georgie, Patricia and Andrea
Suggested by Jennifer Milward, Alison, Nick and Jen as a female twist on our patron saints George, Patrick and Andrew. Jen also requested ‘Patricia’ after her mother, an avid falcon cam watcher, who died recently.

3. Emily, Anne and Charlotte
Suggested by Ann and Trish. The names relate to the famous Bronte sisters Emily (who wrote Wuthering Heights), Anne (who wrote Agnes Grey) and Charlotte (who wrote Jane Eyre).

4. Mary, Jane and Florence
Suggested by SueAtt. These names all relate to female members of the Boot family, led by Boots The Chemist founder Jesse Boot.

5. Snap, Crackle and Pop
Suggested by Molly Spriggs. Names after the cartoon mascots of the popular breakfast cereal Rice Crispies.

The voting poll is now live on our website and this blog.

So, why are we not asking you to name the other bird you might ask? Well, we’ve been observing it regularly and are now fairly certain that it’s a male – judging by its size. Secondly, we were emailed a suggestion in-house which we really like. We’ve decided to call it Frank.

He’s named after Frank Jennings, a man who has worked for NTU in our Estates Department for 25 years and retires this summer. Among the many things Frank achieved in his time with the university, he was actually responsible for building the original nest box that the falcons first began to breed in. If it wasn’t for Frank’s actions in those early days then falcon cam and this blog would not exist.

We think it’s only fair that, in the year of his retirement our tiny male falcon is named ‘Frank’ after Mr Jennings . We salute you Frank Jennings. Have a happy retirement and enjoy following your namesake for the rest of this breeding season.

Jared Wilson
NTU Falcons Team

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Why we cannot intervene

The 4th chick outside the nestbox

The 4th chick outside the nest box

 

Thank you for all the messages.   Like so many of you, we are also very concerned for the young falcon chick, but please understand that we cannot intervene.

We only ever access the nest for the annual ringing, which is to help ensure the protection of the peregrine falcon species. If we were to repeatedly interfere with the nest there would be the possibility that the adults may abandon it and any remaining chicks. This is based on the advice of professionals.

In the wild, in more rural nest sites, it is common for chicks to perish by falling from the nest, often being bullied by its larger siblings.  Our falcons are wild too, and we must let nature take its course and hope for the best.  It is also worth noting that the female is perfectly capable of continuing to feed it if she chooses to and the ledge is actually wider than in some rural sites.

The nest box was installed on a site which had already been chosen by the falcons.  It was installed by the university and the wildlife trust to prevent eggs being washed away in times of heavy rainfall.  The site has been incredibly successful for many years with twenty birds successfully fledging over the past six years.  As ever, at the end of every season we will review how our project has performed.  This always includes a review of the nest box itself and the ringing.

In 2012 during the heavy storms we received hundreds of requests to rescue the birds.  We did not intervene, despite losing three chicks.  It was incredibly difficult to watch, however when one chick managed to survive we felt privileged to have witnessed such a battle.

 

 

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A successful day of wildlife conservation

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Following the successful ringing of the peregrine falcon chicks today, we’re pleased to inform you that we have three female birds in the nest.

For the fourth and smallest bird however – because it’s still so tiny – we’ve been unable to determine its gender. So we need you to come up with three female names and one unisex!

We’d like you, the FalconCam viewers, to email us or submit comments on this blog of your suggestions of names. We’ll pick the best ones and then put them to the polls for you to vote on.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 9am on Friday 23 May.

The three chicks were all ringed by professionals from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, causing minimal distress to the birds. If you’d like to read more about bird ringing, read Erin McDaid’s previous blog: The Importance of Bird Ringing.

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Action stations

More feathery chicks at the NTU Newton building

More feathery chicks at the NTU Newton building

The last couple of weeks have been exciting on the Newton building’s lofty ledge.  We had a few days of drama as the 4th egg remained un-hatched.  Thankfully the egg eventually did hatch and we were left with 4 healthy eyasses.  Due to the fantastic hunting weather the smallest falcon is getting enough food and starting to catch up its siblings in size.  The experience of Mr. and Mrs. P has once again been apparent.  However we did question the experience of the mother mallard who was photographed leading her 11 ducklings towards the Market place! 

We noticed there are already name suggestions flying about in the blog comments. Please keep them coming in so we can pick our favourites for the traditional public vote. The front runners currently appear to be George, Georgia and Patrick due to the links with the national saints days.  When we do the ringing of the new birds we should be able to tell what sex they are so please provide a variety of suggestions.

We’ll continue to do our best to get some good quality close up shots during feeding time. It’s grizzly viewing at times but I still haven’t seen anything as surprising as when a falcon was spotted on the Nottingham council house with the head and neck of a swan in its talons some years ago!

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Amazing knitted falcon from Pam Birley!

Amazing knitted falcon from Pam Birley!

Here at NTU Falcons HQ we would like to express our thanks to avid Falcon Cam watcher Pam Birley. Not only has Pam been one of our most consistent and favourite posters on this blog, but she also has some serious skills when you get her together with a ball of wool and a pair of knitting needles.

This knitted falcon sits proudly on my desk at work while we watch the progress of the Falcons this year. She sent it a month or so back and we meant to say a public thank you earlier. If you would like to see more of Pam’s knitted birds check out her Loonville online shop.

If anyone else out there feels inspired to get creative on the theme of the falcons then let us know. If we like them we might feature your work on here too.

Jared Wilson
NTU Falcons Team

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A sad end for Storm, but hope for the season ahead

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Storm in her nest at the Newton building shortly after being ringed

Today we bring the sad news of the death of Storm, the only peregrine falcon to successfully fledge the nest during the 2012 mating season.

Storm was ringed under licence with a British Trust for Ornithology metal ring when about 20 days old and stayed in the vicinity of the nest until early autumn, when she moved away. We had no reports of Storm until we received a phone call last year which informed us that she had been found in unusual circumstances.

This was worrying and we finally heard what we had been dreading  – Storm had been found dead at Stapleton Park in Leicestershire, about 20 miles from the Nottingham Trent University nest. There had been some concern about the circumstances in which she was found due to the fact that she had lost a leg, but after investigation the death was attributed to natural causes. We’ve been restricted from bringing you the news until now, partly because of the investigation process.

Storm’s death is a very sad end to a gut-wrenching mating season during which heavy rain and strong winds led to the loss of Storm’s three siblings which hatched when they are at their most vulnerable to chilling. Storm’s trials and tribulations created great interest from the viewing public, with her being named, rather aptly, ‘Storm’ via a public competition. Storm, against all the odds, went on to fledge successfully.

Whilst it is sad that Storm has now died, we must remember that the breeding pair on the Newton building have reared many chicks over a number of years, so it is likely that some will have survived into adulthood. The fact that we were able to identify Storm shows the benefit of the ringing process. But we have no idea where she was between leaving the nest and being found, which highlights the limitations of what we can currently do to protect these birds.

Working with Nottingham Trent University we are currently exploring the possibility of using some form of small GPS tracking device in the future to help us keep track of the young birds once they leave the nest. If possible, this may enable us to help more birds in distress and may even help us prevent crimes against these birds such as trapping and poisoning.

In contrast to Storm, a second peregrine from a different local nest was more fortunate. This bird was again ringed and found in a distressed state on the ground near to its nest site. The bird was well grown and had obviously just fledged so was taken into care by a wildlife rescue charity. It was cared for until it had recovered and regained its strength before being released back into the wild.

More follows..


These two examples show the issues surrounding newly fledged peregrines, with very few birds surviving through their first year after fledging. Many are not lucky enough to be found and cared for until they are strong enough for release and instead become chilled and die, or are taken by other predators.

We do hope that the 2014 mating season follows suit from last year when all the chicks fledged successfully to the joy of avid FalconCam viewers. Our approach is always to watch and interfere as little as possible, even though we are sometimes watching nature in the raw.

The number of people watching the live feed has been a sensation, and the partnership between the university and the wildlife trust in seeking to help people learn more about these amazing birds has been a spectacular success with followers from across the UK, Europe and beyond. Everyone watching has had an opportunity to learn more about wildlife conservation, and the positive feedback from members of the public, and the strength of positive feelings towards the peregrines and their young, has been almost overwhelming. Long may it continue.

Erin McDaid
Head of Communications & Marketing
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

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