Woke up to heavy rain today, but the forecast promised a bit of sunshine later on, so I kept to my plans to meet up with Nathalie (the famous Fulham and Barnes Peregrine Lady) and two of her friends, Maggie and Sarah.
It was dry but overcast when I arrived after a brief visit to the London Wetland Centre. But within minutes it rained, and it rained and it rained.
Theres great excitement at the moment for the FaBs. Charlie laid her first egg in the early hours of March 14th, and her second egg in the early hours of today. And she mated with Tom at least another three times today, so egg number three could be expected this Monday.
Peregrines generally lay three-four eggs, but can lay up to five. Last year Charlie laid four but one egg was eventually abandoned. It appeared to have a crack in it. But she and Tom successfully hatched three eyases. The three were ringed and called AK, AL and AJ and appeared to be all male. Sadly AJ disappeared not long after fledging, and what happened to him will always remain a mystery. AK and AL fledged well, and eventually went off to start their own life stories.
Once the last egg has been laid by Charlie, the serious period of incubation begins which lasts around 30 days, and Tom, being a bit more mature this year than last, should do his fair bit. He was very attentive today, but then again it was raining hard so he could have been just using the rain as an excuse to appear to be the 'good father figure' lol. He's proved his 'manliness' a couple of times recently. He was spotted seeing off another peregrine just the other day by executing a short sharp 'body-slam' on the intruder.
Charlie spent most of the afternoon sitting on the corner of the hospital. She's never been bothered by rain, and once it stopped she spent another hour or so preening in the sun. Tom was off the eggs and spreading his wings when the sun eventually came out. He practised a couple of flying swoops, but we didn't see him catch anything, and he arrived back at the hospital a few times after flying around. The last time we witnessed this, he landed and appeared to be 'calling' Charlie. I was really hoping this would mean some more 'mating that I could capture on camera but she didn't really respond until just before we left, and then she came down to the nesting ledge to do a bit of egg-sitting. Tom flew off at around the same time to the nearby Ark building.
Luckily for all of us, Tom and Charlies nesting progress can be viewed by webcams. I have added two links below, to the webcams. One is 'nest box cam' and one is 'ledge cam'. The 'nest box cam' is infra-red so can be viewed throughout the night. Because its infra-red, the colours of the eggs look mainly white, but in fact they are actually more of a red colour. The infra-red setting is left on 24 hours as changing it would cause the 'nest box cam' to make noises, which could disturb Tom and Charlie. Also on 'nest box cam' you will see a 'smudge' on the screen. Believe it or not, this is actually caused by when Charlie sneezed recently. So that little smudge is real true peregrine snot !!!! Bless her, but in her defence, she had just sat through quite a horrendous snow blizzard !!!
A very pleasant afternoon for me. I never tire of going to see Tom and Charlie. And every time I see Nathalie, I learn a little bit more. Another lady with incredible knowledge of peregrines is Carol, but sadly she couldn't make it today. Maggie and Sarah were great company, and I look forward to seeing them more when Fledge Watch comes into force.
Obviously there are no dates set for Fledge Watch yet as we don't know when the last egg will be laid, and when the true incubation period will begin. Nathalie reckons it'll be the same as last year, as so far Charlies egg laying is right on course. So if anyone has a spare few days around 5th-10th June this year, please keep them free and volunteer for a day or two on Fledge Watch duties. Nathalie cannot promise sunshine, but she can definitely promise some heart-stopping moments and maybe even the chance to actually see a young peregrine leave the safety of its nest for the first time. If you have a camera, bring it with you. Moments like this only happen once !
On a sadder note, the building known as Charing Cross Hospital is under serious threat from being knocked down. I don't know the full facts but it appears the NHS are bringing about closures of some A&E departments at local hospitals. For more information please read Andy Slaughters website (link below). He is the local Labour MP for Hammersmith. Unfortunate name.......good job, we're not discussing the recent fox or badger culls !!!!! But seriously, if that part of the building of Charing Cross Hospital is demolished, where will Tom and Charlie go ?????
So lastly, my photos from today. And they are crap !! No good light at all, but as always when I take photos, each one to me is a personal memory of that day. My favourite has to be of Tom when he was flying back to the hospital. You can clearly see his missing tail feather, and what appears to be the beginning of a new one.
Thank you Nathalie Mathieu for another great informative afternoon. If I have stated anything wrong on here, please feel free to correct me Nathalie.
|Charlie in the rain, on the corner of the hospital|
|Charlie preening on the corner of the hospital once the sun came out|
|Tom (silhouette due to light) in 'swoop' action but didn't catch anything|
|Tom making his way back to a perch. Note the tail feathers. |
|Tom on one of his favourite perches|
|Charlie on the nesting ledge|
|Again Charlie on the nesting ledge.|
Tom and Charlies nest cam
Tom and Charlies ledge cam
Tom and Charlies Facebook page