Well, having hoped that our peregrine pair might delay laying their eggs to help avoid the emotional roller coaster caused by last year’s storms, the vagaries of the British weather have conspired to make things difficult again not only for the birds, but for those folk watching the nest via the webcams.
Having laid the first egg a week later than in 2012, the female might well have been hoping for better weather. Instead, ably assisted by her attentive mate, she had to endure a weekend of driving snow and subzero temperatures.
For those watching through the night on Saturday the viewing got pretty difficult as the snow piled up around what we believed to have been the female. At one point there was real concern for the adult’s health, but just when things looked bleak the male arrived to take over incubation duties – phew!
The sight of a snow covered nest has once again precipitated (if you’ll excuse the pun) a debate about whether some form of roof structure could or should have been erected prior to the nesting season. Rather than go into this debate in detail (it is largely covered in our FAQs) I’d like to reassure people that it was carefully considered.
Because of the success of this nest site over many years, we decided not to significantly alter the nest site. We were concerned that fundamentally altering the ledge, a location chosen by the birds themselves, may have put the pair off nesting in the site altogether. Having viewed the pictures of the snow covered ledge, I suspect that much of the snow was blown in on the wind – meaning that any roof would have had to be pretty low down to have kept it out.
A roof or cover would have altered the nest site considerably potentially risking spooking the pair into abandoning the nest site. Clearly we can’t be certain of this, but when a more box-like structure was trialed some years ago it proved unpopular with the pair, leading to the installation of the simple nest tray we have today; a design which has helped the pair raise a tremendous number of chicks.
Everyone involved in the project to protect this nest site is now hoping for better weather and hoping that the events that unfold are more palatable than those of last year. However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that in raising a healthy chick despite of the appalling weather last year – the nesting season was once in general terms a success for this resilient and dedicated pair.
Whilst we hope that the weather improve and that the family go from strength to strength this season its also worth considering that if, sadly, the current cold snap does cause problems with the eggs or chicks, there may still be time for the pair to try for a second brood.
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust