2019 – The Story

To see a log of current events and activities please visit the Daily Commentary Page or for older information please the Archive Page.

Video Snippets and news from the 2019 breeding season.

7 January 2019: The long-staying juvenile (PCF) has not been seen on the platform since 11 December.

3 February: the female is feeding on the platform and the male is close by. he tries to steal a piece of her meal and is rewarded by being knocked from the platform.

3 February 2019 – Video: the female knocks the male off the platform for trying to steal a bit of her meal.

12 February: Thanks to James Burman and Ken Robinson who have sent me photographs of a juvenile bird on the church at Market Harborough. The partial ring-read seems to indicate this is P7D from 2018. The first confirmed sighting since leaving the Cathedral area in August.

Juvenile bird (probably P7D) at St Dionysius’ Church, Market Harborough. (c) Ken Robinson

28 February 2019 – the male joins the female at 00:25 and goes into the box where he falls asleep. At 1:05, the female moves into the box and there is bonding; posturing and calling between the pair. 

28 February 2019 – Video: Even in the middle of the night the bonding continues. Female is on the left.

1 March 2019: The male returns to the platform at 13:10 and picks at some scraps then goes into the box. Five minutes later he flies out with the female calling. He can be seen to make an attempt to mate with the female but it is unsuccessful as he falls off her back!

1 March 2019 – Video: the first mating attempt caught on camera this season.

6 March 2019: mating continues in earnest. There are now numerous attempts during the day as the bonding continues.

6 March 2019 – Video: another mating attempt. Make sure your sound is on for this one, the timing is perfect!

20 March 2019: the female hunkers down into the scrape at 8:45 and her posture and demeanour changes at 8:55. Just before 9:00 the first egg was laid and after a few moments she settles down on the egg. We have our first egg of the season. What a way to herald the first day of spring!

20 March 2019 – Photo – The First Egg: the first egg arrived at just before 9:00.

23 March 2019: the second egg of the year arrived at 7:35, right on time as expected. The male arrives at 9:05 and incubated two eggs for the first time this season.

23 March 2019 – Video: the male covers 2 eggs for the first time this year.

26 March 2019: right on time, the third egg was laid in the early hours of the morning.

26 March 2019 – Video: the female lays her 3rd egg in the early hours. This is extremely dark, we are watching via Infra-Red cameras.
26 March 2019 – Photo: right on time, the third egg arrived in the early hours.

28 March 2019: just before 6pm, the female laid the 4th egg in this year’s clutch. Being 7 days earlier than in 2018, will they go for a 5th?

28 March 2019 – Video: the 4th egg of the clutch is laid and then incubated when dry

31 March 2019: a 5th egg was laid at 12 noon. This is the first time that 5 eggs have been seen in the nest of this pair since observations began in 2014.

31 March 2019 – Photo: the male comes in at the first changeover to find a 5th egg in the scrape.

1 April 2019: for possibly the first time, the male has to incubate 5 eggs. Does he think it’s April Fool’s Day? Being much smaller than the female he sometimes finds it quite difficult and if one of the eggs is left out of brood, it may chill quickly.

1 April 2019 – Video: being much smaller than the female, the male has trouble incubating 5 eggs. He eventually finds a comfortable position.

11 April 2019: the pair are still incubating the 5 eggs, even though the male does struggle at times as he is so much smaller than the female.

11 April 2019 – Video: the male takes over incubation from the female but struggles to get all the eggs covered fully.

27 April 2019 – At 1 :40 this morning, the female was noted eating the shell of an egg. No signs of any young could be seen and it is assumed that the egg was not viable.

27 April 2019 – Video: the moment the female realises one of the eggs is not viable and eats the shell.

In 2019: Egg 1 20/03 @9:00; Egg 2 23/03 7:35; Egg 3 26/03 @1:45; Egg 4 28/03. The clutch is ‘complete’ 7 days earlier than in 2018. A 5th egg is laid at 12 noon on 31/03. The first chick hatched at 16:50 on 01/05, the second at 3:30 on 02/05 and the third at 7:40 on 03/05. 2018‘s laying dates: Egg 1: 26/03 @17:30; Egg 2 29/03 @15:15; Egg 3 01/04 @16:00; Egg 4 04/04 @6:50. The first chick hatched on 6 May.

1 May 2019 – Photo: This is a chart of the incubation periods of the adults during April. The double rows are one day starting from the 1st April at the bottom and from mid-night to mid-night, left to right. The male is blue, female is purple.

1 May 2019 – the first of the four remaining eggs hatched at 16:50. This was finally revealed briefly at 17:25.

1 May – Video: the first chick hatches – a quick glimpse.

2 May 2019 – overnight, somewhere round about midnight, a second egg hatched and a new chick could be seen. Both young were first fed at 7:45.

3 May 2019 – a third egg hatched at 7:40, the female helping it from the shell.

3 May 2019 – Video: the third chick can be seen after being helped from the shell by the female.

11 May 2019: at 13:00. whilst the female feeds the chicks , she steps on the remaining un-hatched egg and it breaks. It is clearly seen that there is nothing inside except for a small amount of yolk, so was unviable. 

11 May 2019 – Video: the unhatched 4th egg is broken by the female. There was nothing but a little bit of yolk, so was unviable.

11 May 2019: the male has always been a ‘modern father’ in wanting to feed the chicks but the female was reluctant to allow him. She eventually relinquishes when there are two items of prey that can be feed to the chicks at the same time.

11 May 2019 – Video: the female finally allows the male to feed the chicks but only because he brought in a 2nd item of prey. Look out for the Lady and the Tramp section at 16:13:51.

13 May 2019: the chicks are at an age and strength when they can now venture outside of the scrape.

13 May 2019 – Video: in anticipation of a meal, the chicks take their first steps out of the scrape. Look at the size of their feet!

21 May 2019: after ensuring that the chicks had been well feed during the early morning, at 10:40, the three young were the colour-ringed under licence from the BTO. Hopefully, future sightings of the young will help in our understanding of the movements of young birds, their feeding and hunting sites, breeding sites and longevity. This information , both locally and nationally, will help in the conservation of Peregrines. With the chicks having just been fed, they were very docile and the process for the three took about 20 minutes. Less than 30 minutes after finishing the process, at 11:25, the female was sitting on the ledge with a full crop and the chicks were huddled in the corner dozing. 

21 May 2019 – Photo: the three chicks were colour-ringed this morning, all were in good condition and very healthy. Note the full crops.

25 May 2019: the chicks are growing much stronger and their pin feathers are starting to show. They are also doing daily exercises to strengthen those wings and venturing around the box and platform.

25 May 2019 – Video: the chicks beg for food from the female who is sitting on the ledge.

1 June 2019: just six days later and the chicks are almost unrecognisable. They have grown so much with not only in size but the ‘Peregrine’ facial pattern is beginning to emerge. Lots more brown feathers and their downy feathers are almost gone.

1 June 2019 – Video: TLC is finding her wings watched by her siblings. Something above them attracts their attention.

5 June 2019: four days later and the chicks look more like young Peregrines. Their appetite is insatiable and they continually beg for food even when well fed.

5 June 2019 – Video: the female is hounded by the chicks begging for food.

7 June: it is hard not to be too anthropomorphic but the larger of the siblings TLC does appear to be trying to bully the other two. In this clip TLC appears to be trying to force TFC from the ledge with subtle use of head and wing. Or is that just my thinking?

7 June 2019 – Video: is TLC trying to force TFC off the ledge first by its head and then wing and leg?

11 June: it rains all night and the chicks huddle together in a corner of the box and the female does not visit the ledge. They then spend quite a bit of the morning doing wing stretching and flapping exercises. They settle down again until 12:25 when TFC searches for food. It is joined by PAF who also does some wing exercises. TLC remains in the box, takes two steps out and returns immediately! TFC starts a period of vigorous wing flapping and is watched by PAF who moves to the ledge. After a full 5 minutes non-stop, it joins PAF. The two sit there looking down on the street below. At 12:45, they start calling in anticipation of an adult arriving but it flies past. TFC remains on the platform flapping and this time TLC watches. After a few minutes, TFC jumps onto the back of TLC before walking into the box. TLC was somewhat surprised. TFC returns to the ledge and after 30 seconds opens its wings and flies off – the first to fledge this year, TLC watching it go. 

11 June 2019 – Video: TFC is the first of this year’s young to take flight.

13 June: All three chicks have taken their first flight, although TLC slipped off the ledge and was grounded in nearby Silver Street. She was safely transferred back to the platform for a second attempt a few days later. TFC was relocated on the roof of the Cathedral and PAF was on the roof of The Case restaurant also close by.

13 June 2019 – Video: TLC slips off the ledge. Look closely and you can see her fly down Silver Street.
13 June 2019 – Video: TFC is located on the guttering of The Guildhall in the rain.

16 June 2019 – at 4:20 this morning, TLC makes a strong second flight over the rooftops of the city. Unfortunately, this was not the last time she would have to be rescued and released.

16 June – Video: TLC takes her 2nd flight.

18 June – TLC Update: a phone call at 21:00 on Monday 17th, informed me that despite its very strong second flight, TLC was found grounded by the Guildhall. This happens frequently in urban sites. Juveniles don’t quite have the muscle strength to get enough uplift from the ground. It was quickly captured and taken for assessment overnight. It looked strong and healthy despite its adventures and returned to the platform on Tuesday morning at 9:35.

19 June – TLC Update: in the afternoon of the 19th, TLC was spotted on the central reservation of Vaughan Way. A member of the public tried to capture her but she flew off under her own steam. She was later seen on city centre CCTV near Nandos in The Highcross walking towards the Cathedral! Later in the evening, she was found outside Mark Jarvis bookmakers on High Street. She was collected by a member of the RSPCA and taken to a local vet. When collected from the Veterinary Centre on the afternoon of the 22nd, TLC looked extremely fit and alert. The Vet said he could find nothing physically wrong with her and so she was returned to the Cathedral at about 16:10. Her first flight was strong, taking her to half way down St Martins Walk. The adult female was over her later (at about 17.05) just before she took off again towards High Cross, again looking very strong in flight. Despite further searching she was lost to sight soon after this. 

30 June – at 17:35 the male arrives sporting a full crop and falls asleep until 18:20 when he is rudely awakened by the arrival of the female with TFC in tow. He runs into the box and is followed by the female. He forces his way past the juvenile whilst the female is in the box with TFC calling loudly. TFC runs into the box and forces the female onto the ledge standing in front of her calling incessantly. 

30 June 2019 – Video: the male has to force his way past TFC to escape being cornered.

1 July: all three juveniles visit the nestbox to be fed but there are fewer and fewer visits by PAF. In the main it is TFC who visits and chases after the adults wanting to be fed.

10 JulyPeregrine Watch Day: the team were in St Martins Square this morning and there was a lot of activity. The adults and all three juveniles were seen during the morning, including TLC who we have been concerned about since her multiple groundings in June. However, she was spotted on a cross and on the weather vane and seen to take a food pass from the adult female. Whilst TFC is noted frequently on the platform (via the cameras), PAF and TLC appear to take their food in the direction of De Montfort University and use one of the multitude of buildings there. All three juveniles look extremely well fed.

10 July 2019 – Photo: Juvenile TLC seems not to have suffered from her multiple groundings and was noted on a Cathedral cross.

18 July – both TFC and TLC are seen regularly but PFC does not return to the platform. With TFC on the ledge, the female arrives at 9:15 with a Feral Pigeon. TFC runs to her and after a bit of tug-o-war, manages to snatch it from her. The adult flies off and TFC starts to pluck and feed on the prey. 

18 July 2019 – Video: TFC snatches prey from the female after a tug-o-war.

25 July – both TFC and TLC are on the ledge and TLC bullies and bites the feet of TFC until it falls from the ledge. This was not the first time that TLC bullied her siblings.

25 July 2019 – Video: the smaller TFC on the left, gets bullied by the larger TLC until it falls from the platform.

28 August: Both TLC and TFC still use the platform and there is a fair amount of interaction between the siblings. Although TLC is mostly the aggressor, she is not necessarily the one to start the games.

28 July 2019 – Video: TFC and TLC play tag.

31 July: TLC shows her strength when she drags TFC across the platform after try to steal TLC’s meal.

31 July 2019 – Video: TFC gets dragged from the box after trying to steal prey from TLC.

1 August:– an intruding adult female with an orange colour-ring lands on the ledge when TLC is present. The intruder goes into the box and is followed by TLC but she soon flies out in haste. The intruder is a young adult with a few brown feathers in the wings. She walks around the box looking for food and picks up a few scraps before flying off at 12:40. The intruder is probably at the age where it will be looking for a breeding site of its own and if it remains in the area, could change the whole dynamics of the resident pair. 

1 August 2019 – Video: TLC encounters an intruding adult female!

13 August: both TLC and TFC still frequent the platform and are still being fed by the adults and also bring in prey. There is competition between the siblings for food brought in.

13 August 2019 – Video: another tug-o-war between the two juveniles, neither wants to give in and they fall from the platform.

19 August: the supply of prey is wide and varied, including Black-tailed Godwit and Cuckoo.

19 August 2019 – Photo: TLC with what looks to be a Black-tailed Godwit as prey.
27 August 2017 – Photo: the feathers from an item of prey brought in on the 27th have been identified as a juvenile Cuckoo.

1 September: both TLC and TFC continue to use the platform during the month although less frequently than previous. They were last seen on camera on 28 September.

18 September: at 10:00, TFC arrives with a partial-eaten pigeon. The adult female lands a few minutes later and TFC drags its meal into the box calling loudly and protects it from the adult. The female sheepishly tries to take a piece of the meal from TFC. She has every good reason to be wary because as she approaches, TFC runs at her with the prey and knocks her off the platform. 

18 September 2019 – Video: TFC arrives with prey. The adult female tries to steal its meal with unintended consequences.

9 October: the juveniles have not been seen since late September and were not located during the Watch Day at the Cathedral. Both adults were in attendance, well fed and resting.

9 October 2019 – Video: the female on the cross of the Cathedral