We think - we may be wrong, but we don't think so - we think, we are
fairly certain, the peregrines have hatched their first chick.
This morning (Tuesday, 25th) the activity was intense up there on the
ledge, with both parent birds in attendance most of the morning, and,
thrillingly, around mid-morning, the male bird arrived carrying food -
which, after flying by a couple of times, it deposited on the ledge.
Though we couldn't identify the prey item, we were delighted, because
that is the first time we have seen food being brought to the nesting
ledge. Peregrines have good reasons to keep the ledge clean while they
have eggs - for instance, not attracting carrion eaters, and not fouling
the eggs or the sitting parent while incubation is in progress - so food
being brought in is a reliable sign of a hatchling to be fed.
It has to be said, our peregrines are not the easiest to see, certainly
compared with, say, the cathedral birds at Derby, or the Cardiff City
Hall family, or even those on Wrexham police station. However, there are
compensations. Our bird list this month from the Lakeside Hide (often
written off by some as a "waste of time") has included most of the local
raptors - osprey, red kite, goshawk, buzzard, and yesterday a
magnificent male hen harrier soaring over the cliff - and several
specialities that people do travel to see (and hear), such as pied
flycatcher, wood warbler, and redstart. Even siskins are a thrill to
visitors who don't have them at home. When we put up a feeder outside
the hide in April, it took them about a fortnight to find it. Now we can
guarantee really close, confiding and photographable siskins any time
you care to come.
So come and make a Date With Nature in the Lakeside Hide. The next 3-4
weeks should be really special!
All is well with the peregrines. We watched a changeover yesterday in
mid-afternoon, which was the first real action all day and gave some
visitors a really good view of the off-duty bird sitting nearby.
The nesting site is concealed behind a hedge of heather on a high ledge,
so most sightings are only glimpses of tail and wingtips as the
incubating parent shifts on the eggs. There will be more to see soon,
when the eggs hatch and the parents start to bring in food items to the
chicks on the ledge. Estimates of the hatching date vary, but a few days
either side of 31st May seems most likely. Not long now!
Otherwise, despite the inactivity, peregrine watching has its moments.
The siskins have found our feeder, which is some consolation for
visiting photographers, and there is a fat vole that rushes out and
chases them away from the spillage every few minutes. Our visitors are
all lovely people - no exceptions yet - including hotel guests,
holidaymakers, round-the-lake cyclists, some very well-behaved
schoolchildren from Shrewsbury, a celebrity tv commentator's mother, and
a party of bikers from Northwich yesterday who mostly didn't get to see
the peregrines except for one lady who did, which almost caused a divorce!
Do you know about our Life Active Blanket Bog Project here at Lake Vyrnwy?
We have special team working on our high moors conserving and restoring our blanket bogs.
So why are bogs important? Not only do they create an environment for many specialist plants, insects and birds but they are also a very important resource for combating climate change. The bog is a huge carbon store that needs to remain locked away. By protecting the bog, we can keep this carbon on the moor where it belongs, rather than allow it to be washed away or released into the atmosphere.
In the late 1940’s and 50’s many ditches or grips were dug on the bog in an attempt to drain these boggy areas for grazing livestock. This resulted in the peat drying out and eroding, lowering the water table.
Over the last 4 years, our team has been blocking these grips, thus retaining more water on the moor and facilitating the regeneration of the peat. This also improves water quality, which is important to the water company allowing it to supply good drinking water to Liverpool and district.
During the winter months “Aliens” have been seen on the moors - more about them in a later edition!
Another Monday in the Lakeside Hide:
While we're waiting for the peregrines to hatch, there's nothing much
happening on the cliff. A couple of times a day we see the parent bird
fly off the ledge, circle round a few times, maybe rest for a while in a
tree and then fly back to the ledge. This happens suddenly, so it's
difficult to keep track of both birds and we're never quite sure at long
range which parent we are looking at or what the other one is up to
meanwhile. All will be clearer when hungry babies have to be fed and we
can get them on camera.
But today the common sandpipers provided a charming diversion, right in
front of the hide. One, the female, as it turned out, was mooching along
the shoreline when the other approached and saluted her with one stiff
wing raised vertically. They stood and looked at each other for a short
time, and then he rose in a little aerial dance, fluttering his wings
and dangling his legs and calling excitedly. Then he landed on her back
and stood there expectantly for a second until she shuffled sideways to
arrange things comfortably and they completed the matrimonial act. Where
is that camera when you need it?
Crowds of siskins have found our sunflower seed feeder, and some
redpolls have been joining them on the ground beneath it. There's a pair
of grey wagtails on the stream to our right, and a pair of pied wagtails
to our left. This morning the female goosander came over from the other
shore of the lake while some fishermen were having their lunch near her
box and gave us a wonderful close view as she swam and dived in front of
the hide. We had 38 visitors, even on this quietest day of the week, and
several of them heard their first cuckoo today. Two were singing all day
up on the hillside behind us (cuckoos, not visitors).
Our correspondent, Graham, has revealed himself as “CatinTheHat”, in future to be known as our Roving Reporter! He reports from the Date with Nature site as follows:-
“The peregrines are keeping a very low profile but there is no doubt they are present and paired. Today's sightings were brief, but both birds were at the nesting ledge and calling was clearly heard across the lake.
We last saw them mating on 19th April, so they are late, certainly compared with the Cardiff City Hall birds, whose eggs we hear have hatched, but we are still optimistic.
Today, a distinct and unmistakeable osprey, harried by a raven, appeared from the left and gave us superb views as it gained height up the lake, circled over the forestry at the top and departed towards the north west.
The goosanders were in and out of the box yesterday, the common sandpipers are still treating us to close quarters views of their fluttering low-level displays, the pied wagtails are busy all round the hide, and today a long-tailed tit made a messy job of assassinating a lively caterpillar right before our very eyes. Lots of visitors, both interested and interesting, and Gary's camping stove makes a fine brew.”