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Eagle-eyed falcon fans spot the arrival of new suitor on Nottingham's live peregrine cam

It's the beginning of a new peregrine spotting season! Here's a reminder of what happened at the end of the 2016 season when four chicks successfully fledged.

Since the installation of high-definition cameras to provide added security for a famous peregrine nest in the centre of Nottingham back in 2012, tens of thousands of people from across the globe have been avidly keeping an eye on what must now be one of the most famous falcon nest sites on the planet.

Whilst cameras were initially installed to ensure that these protected birds could breed in safety without fear of persecution, the quality of the upgraded cameras and investment in a live video stream has enabled people to enjoy the goings-on in the nest and proved to be an invaluable learning resource. Many schools have tuned in over the years and observations by individuals are also helping us learn more about these amazing creatures.

Family trials
In May last year, dedicated watchers noticed some unusual behaviour around the nest. They observed the male flying towards the fast-developing chicks as they sat on the high ledge above the city. At first it was assumed that the male was trying to keep the chicks away from the edge, but following some research made possible by reviewing hours of footage and still images captured by the camera-watching community, a very different story emerged. 

A few days later, viewers noticed that there was an adult bird in the nest with a coloured identification ring clearly visible around its leg. This was not one of our resident pair, and it couldn't be a returning chick as the licensed ringers who ring the NTU chicks on behalf of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust don't use this type of ring.

One observant and intrigued nest watcher did some investigating and, via the British Trust for Ornithology, it was established that the interloper was a four-year-old bird originally ringed as a chick in London.

Despite camera watchers keeping a lookout, the male that had fathered the brood of 2016 was never seen again, and the new male – subsequently named "Archie" following an online poll on a dedicated Facebook group – has been present on and off ever since. So, rather than being the father displaying paternal instincts to save his chicks from a potentially fatal fall, it would appear that the new male was trying to drive the chicks away as part of his efforts to take up residence at a very successful and desirable nest site.

This type of observation is only possible due to the investment made by NTU in high-quality cameras and the streaming of the images. It would have been possible to protect the nest without streaming the footage, but this decision by NTU and our joint efforts to promote the live stream to the public means that huge numbers of people can observe the birds, and that we all have the opportunity to learn as well as acting as extra eyes to help keep the birds safe.

The value of nest cams
Live webcams on nests of wild falcons, ospreys and other birds of prey across the UK are now helping us build up a much clearer picture about bird behaviours. Almost every season someone will observe the birds doing something we've not seen before, and when we get asked questions about why the birds are behaving in a certain way, we don't always have answers – but the presence of cameras is certainly helping us all build up our knowledge.

We now know that adult peregrines move between successful nest sites much more frequently than previously thought. This makes tremendous sense in terms of ensuring a wide genetic pool and maintaining a healthy peregrine population, but it is nest cameras that have made this learning possible.

So, as we wait with bated breath for the arrival of the first egg this year and keep our fingers crossed that the new couple have a successful year, we can also look forward to learning even more about peregrine behaviour in the months ahead. 

Erin McDaid
Head of Communications, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

Eagle-eyed falcon fans spot the arrival of new suitor on Nottingham's live peregrine cam

Published on 28 February 2017
  • Category: Environment and sustainability

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