Reflecting on a dramatic yet successful season for Nottingham’s resident peregrine pair

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust issues its reflections on the dramatic breeding season of the famous peregrine pair at Nottingham Trent University

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, which helps monitor the peregrine nest on Nottingham Trent University’s Newton Building, has today issued its reflections on what has turned out to be a dramatic, traumatic yet ultimately successful breeding season.

The first reports of breeding activity for the species in the county came in a little more than two decades ago when a pair was noted on buildings in the Peel street area of the City. The pair soon moved to the Newton Building where they attempted to breed and a pair have been present ever since. Over the last twenty or so years the individual birds making up the pairing will have changed a number of times, with the latest new resident, a female carrying ring number P9 replaced the long-term resident female affectionately known as ‘Mrs P’ this year.

 

The dramatic events in and around the nest were played out in front of a bigger audience than ever before – a staggering 1,936,939 page views of the nest cams since the end of February – meaning more people than ever before will be willing the 2021 chick a successful future.
Erin McDaid, Head of Communications
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

The discovery of a dead female in the City Centre and the arrival of the new bird after Mrs P had laid two eggs added to the drama and the Trust, Nottingham Trent University and the thousands of regular camera viewers waited with trepidation to see what would play out. After a brief period getting to know each other and establishing a bond, the new paring mated and P9 laid two eggs of her own – and it was one of these eggs that went on to hatch. Whilst only one egg has hatched this year the successful fledging of a chick by a new pair should be very much be seen as a success explained Erin McDaid – the Trust’s Head of Communications.

“Any year that we get a chick reaching the fledging stage when they take their first flight and start exploring has to be considered a success. When you factor in that this is the first breeding season for a very young female its even more pleasing to have a healthy chick about to take flight in search of a territory of his own.”

NTU Peregrine Falcon chick flapping

Screen capture by Pam Hallem

The dramatic events in and around the nest were played out in front of a bigger audience than ever before – a staggering 1,936,939 page views of the nest cams since the end of February – meaning more people than ever before will be willing the 2021 chick a successful future.” Erin added: “Whilst the chick is still making appearances on the cameras he will soon take off. The adults will remain in the area but the chick will depart for pastures new – but we don’t expect him to go too far.”

Charmaine Morell, Head of Sustainability at Nottingham Trent University stated, "The falcons’ fans have been gripped with the falcons this year by the events through this season on our Newton building.  This year saw the 40th peregrine falcon chick fledge from our Nottingham Trent University nest, high up on our Newton building, in the heart of Nottingham city centre.  Every year, the pair of resident breeding Peregrine Falcons are watched, not only by Nottingham Trent University’s students and staff but by fans from all over the world.  Every year the peregrines show us something different, but this year we’ve been treated to exceptional levels of activity, like no other, which can only be described as a full-on drama. Falcon fans were delighted in observing the twists and turns around two sets of eggs being laid by two females; the disappearance of the original female (Mrs P); the emergence of a second female coming to the nest; the successful hatching of a male chick and not forgetting the role of the male, or Archie, as he’s affectionately known.  Understandably, the Peregrines attracted national press coverage, which drove up viewer numbers even more." Charmaine continued, "Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust has continued to provide expert support, advice and guidance to us here at Nottingham Trent University, with any activities associated with the Peregrines, such as nest maintenance, installation of additional camera and of course overseeing the ringing the chick.   We look forward to another successful season next year."

Information supplied to the Wildlife Trust as a result of the annual ringing of the chicks suggest that the chick is likely to stay within 100km of the nest and likely to follow his parents lead in taking up residence in a a town or city rather a rural location. Erin explained: “So far 40 chicks have been ringed since a nest tray was added to the ledge to ensure that eggs wouldn’t be damaged on the concrete sills or washed away by heavy rains. We have records from five of the birds ringed by the core team that give us an insight as to what happens after they leave the nest.”

Peregrine chick being ringed

Photo © Charmaine Morrell

A chick hatched in 2008 was sighted 35km in Leicestershire last year – almost 12 years to the day since being ringed. A bird ringed in 2012 was found dead less than a year later – again in Leicestershire and 33km away. A bird ringed in 2013 was found dead this spring in South Yorkshire 81km away; whilst a 2015 chick was found dead in 2018 just 25km away in Derbyshire.

Speaking about the importance of these records Erin said: “Whist we only have ring records for a small proportion of the birds that have fledged from the Newton Building there are definite patterns emerging. Its fascinating to learn that all the birds were recorded not too far away – especially when we now have two birds from London occupying the nest. Perhaps this suggests that local towns and cities are the ideal places to take up residence as more traditional rural locations become more precarious due to persecution and egg thefts.”

Most years the chicks in the nest are fitted with a standard British Trust for Ornithology ‘G’ size metal ring, made of a special nickel-chromium alloy, which is light but hard-wearing to ensure it lasts the lifetime of the bird. Each ring has a unique number and the address of the British Museum in London, this institution is recognised throughout the world the name of the museum alone encourages people to report records. Erin added: “As the 2021 breeding season draws to a close its good to know that there’s a very good chance our latest chick will stay local. It’s also reassuring to know that so many people have taken an interest because the more people who care about nature the better chance we have of securing its recovery.”

Peregrine sat on edge of newton building

Photo © Alma Queralt

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust is still awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination requested for the adult peregrine, believed to be Mrs P, and will publish any relevant findings as soon as they are available. Anyone wishing to catch a last glimpse of the chick or to take an opportunity to see if the adults are around the nest can visit the live peregrine cam page. Further background on the BTO bird ringing scheme can be found on their website.