Keith Betton and Richard Jacobs from the Hampshire Ornithological Society will be updating us each week with how the Peregrines are progressing.
10th – 16th February
Our male and female are back at their 2018 nest tray from time to time. The male is a lot smaller than the female – which is true for many falcons. Sometimes they are there individually, but occasionally they are there together. The male is often found sitting on the wall and making sure no other Peregrines usurp his position, and the female is in the nest tray, checking it out, making a cup shape in the gravel. When together they bow quite a lot – a sure sign that this pair is very much thinking of nesting. The female has also been eating the Gravel to build up her calcium levels which will help to form the eggs.
We don’t expect them to do much more than this for the next three weeks, although we do expect to see much more of these activities. If all goes well the female will be sitting in the tray by around 15- 20 March and we can hope to have a clutch of 4 eggs.
This week the female has been in the nest tray on quite a few occasions, making a depression in the gravel called a “scrape” where she will lay her eggs. She does this by propping her chest against one edge of the scrape and pushing the gravel backwards and out with her feet. The male has been sitting around on the wall mainly making sure that the nesting territory is not taken over by any other Peregrines.
Both of them have been eating the gravel. Their diet is quite fatty and eventually, a thick layer of greasy fat builds up in the lining of the crop, which becomes a hindrance to the proper functioning of that organ. So they swallow small stones, which then scour out the greasy lining of the crop and eventually they will be cast out, just like pellets. And when they are, they’re covered in heavy grease.
This week has seen a continuation of the same behaviour reported previously, ie. formation of the “scrape” and pecking at/eating the gravel.
The pair were seen together in the nest tray on the 7th but the male soon departed.
A Peregrine was perched on the parapet in darkness on the 4th at 18:08.
9 – 15 March
The female Peregrine continued to make occasional visits to form the scrape in the nest tray.
She was also observed perched on the parapet late into the evening on three dates.
The pair were seen together twice on camera, once with the female standing over the scrape and the male watching her.
The female’s behaviour during the evening of the 15th suggested that the first egg might soon be laid which indeed happened overnight 15th/16th.
16 – 24 March
Following the arrival of the first egg on the 16th, further eggs were laid on the 18th, 21st and 23rd.
Five eggs are rare, but the pair were seen on camera copulating on the parapet at 16:15 on the 23rd so we await to see if a fifth egg materialises.