The recent spell of inclement (if entirely seasonal) weather sparked a lot of interest in the wellbeing of our high profile peregrine pair.
However, whilst ‘our’ peregrines had an army of concerned observers, other peregrine pairs – and indeed all other nesting birds – had to endure the elements without an audience. To me, this is one of the real advantages of the cameras that Nottingham Trent University has installed overlooking the Newton nest – it gives people an insight into the trials and tribulations faced by all our wild creatures.
It is likely that our pair and countless other pairs of all manner of species were prompted into early mating and nesting due to the unseasonably warm spell earlier in the year. However, pinpointing exactly what factors combine to help decide nesting times is difficult. The timing will be influenced by everything from the health or ‘condition’ of the adult birds to the recent weather and relative availability of food.
For many species of bird, getting the timing of breeding and nesting right can be a matter of life and death and for some, the vagaries of the weather can have a significant impact.
If, for example, warm weather encourages trees such as the oak to come into leaf earlier than usual, some species like the blue tit, which rely heavily upon crops of oak leaf munching caterpillars (that’s not a particular species of caterpillar – but I wish it was!) to feed their chicks can be caught out.
If climate changes gradually over time then species have a chance to adapt, but when we have unexpected changes to patterns of temperature and weather some species can suffer setbacks – perhaps failing to rear chicks at all during some seasons.
If this happens once then there should be no long term impact on a species’ numbers, but if it happens two or three seasons on the trot then species can go into a decline.
As predators sitting at the top of the food chain peregrines are a little better insulated from changes in our climate. They do not rely entirely upon a particular species of prey and are able to adapt to their surroundings. For example, birds living in a city will feed on a different range of species from those living close to a wetland area.
With four eggs in the nest, our pair will be very busy when the chicks hatch sometime in the next ten days or so. We’ll then have about six weeks to enjoy watching their development before they head off on their own and have to work out for themselves how best to cope with the world around them.
If you can drag yourself away from the falcon cam and manage to spot any other peregrines, sparrowhawks, kestrels or other birds of prey across Nottingham, then please do let us know using the special Raptor Watch survey form on the brand new Wildlife in the City website.
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust