You will be pleased to hear that Charles Sturt University has agree to help set up a new website and we are hoping to transfer at least part of the information stored here to the new site. It will take a little time to get this organised, so please be patient.
Diamond arrives in the middle of the night after thunderstorms and soaking wet. Unfortunately, she misjudges her arrival, landing on the upper ledge and flipping upside-down, being unable to free herself for several seconds. She arrrives a bit later to dry off.
The reason for this is that many birds, especially raptors, have a perching reflex – where the toes lock onto a perch. If they flip upside down, it is difficult for them to relax their tendons to release them. The falcons often misjudge their landings at night, but I’ve never seen one latch on to the upper ledge before.
If you are interested in learning more about this locking mechanism, there is a short, interesting article with diagrams here: https://www.raptorresource.org/2021/01/22/racheting-raptor-toes-an-upside-down-eagle-at-great-spirit-bluff/
After about a year of negotiating, some nagging and fund-raising, we finally have our new view – a cam pointed at the tower, so you can watch the peregrines flying around, and possibly see other birds, like this welcome swallow.
Here is the link to the live cam https://youtu.be/qviBDtG9-gg
And a link (thanks, Birdie Cam) to the first video of peregrines landing on the tower
thanks to all those who made this possible: Paul Carpenter who donated the cam (which was originally used to record the construction of the new medical faculty); the IT team, particularly Jason Lyons, Luke Blewett and
All the best for Christmas and the New Year !
One of our followers has made a lovely tribute video to Yurruga. Thanks, Simoninna.
Just to let you know that I am scaling back the daily searches for Yurruga. I last saw him on a roof on 25 November (three days after fledging) and he was seen later the same day by a colleague in the same place during a thunderstorm.
After a week and two days of no sightings, I have to conclude that Yurruga has had a mishap, probably while flying in poor weather, which was atrocious last week. I have looked everywhere there is open space to see if he crash landed, but nothing. Around the campus, there are extensive areas of dense vegetation, either long grass or close plantings, making detection difficult.
This is a very sad outcome for the chick, who, although slight underdeveloped in his plumage, clearly wanted to fledge, and, at 45 days, so did his parents, who lured him out with prey. The average fledge age at this site is 42 days, slightly younger for males. His wing exercising and appetite were excellent, so, given good weather, there was no reason why his flying skills couldn’t have improved quickly. But continual thunderstorms would have hampered that progress and also made hunting difficult for his parents.
It is especially unfortunate as it was the only egg that hatched (one was unfertilised; the other fertilised, but undeveloped ie no chick had formed). One (the fertilsed one) exploded after candling….the other is going to the Australian Museum.
This was the unfertilised egg, the other exploded (yes, all over me).
Let’s hope for a better season next year, but one must remember that these parents are not getting any younger. They are at least at eight or nine years old and could be considerably older as we don’t know how old they were when they arrived. Peregrines do tend to lose fertility as they age, but some keep going reproducing strongly until sixteen or seventeen, so one can’t be sure of what will happen.
Yurruga fledged at 0604 h this morning. He is fine. He flew for a bit, then landed on the ground near the base of the water tower. Some some staff found him, rang me. I caught him, checked him over then placed him in a tree nearby (actually visible from ledge cam). He was fine and hopefully will get the strength to fly more strongly over the next few days.
Below is a picture of him in the tree, just now
Here are a couple of videos of the fledge.
The website has been unavailable for much of this year, but here is a short update:
Three eggs were laid on 31st August, 2nd and 5th September. One egg hatched on 8th October. The other two did not. One egg did have a chick inside, as we could see movement, but it was probably not strong enough to break out. These things happen, although very rarely, fortunately. The other egg probably was not fertilised. They are still in the box and I will collect them later and offer them to the Australian Museum.
So the chick that hatched is called Yurruga after a vote was held featuring 12 different names of weather phenomenon in the local Aboriginal language, Wiradjuri. I’m still not sure, but I think it’s probably a female, as it appears on the picture above to be larger than Xavier. She or he should fledge this weekend, I think, as most of the down has gone and the wing exercising has been more frequent.
Here is my most recent video of Yurruga at 37 days (today = 39).
The weather has been unseasonably cold and wet this year. There have been days when there have been as few as one small prey brought in, but with just one chick, that has not been a problem and other days, the hunting has been very successful.
Diamond had an injury a few weeks, ago, probably from hunting, although we are not sure of course.
The future of this website is uncertain. It was upgraded by the owner, Scott Banks, and was out of action, for a while. The chat function is still not operating as far as I can tell. I’ll keep you posted. We may be able to design a new one and transfer some of the information across.)
The data collection phase of my current research project finished at the end of August 2021 and, aided by some of our very competent volunteers, we are getting all the data into spreadsheets ready for analysis. There are two main components: diet (nine years’ of data) and behaviour based on daily observations over seven years.
I am testing the revamped website to see if it will allow stills to be added
Here is the link to the video
This is a test run to see if the website is operational. Huge relief to have it going again, especially with young ones imminent – hatching due from the beginning of October, but more likely from 2nd or 3rd.
Here is a video of Diamond arriving in a snowstorm (which was actually a bit of a non-event as the snow barely settled, but would have made hunting a bit interesting).
It would seem that I still cannot load stills, which is a shame, but hopefully that will be fixed before fledging.
Very little prey has been coming in recently, only one every second day or so, but that will change once there are mouths to feed.
One odd thing has been happening. We appear to have a visitor..I’m not sure, but I think a large male. He has arrived on the ledge and stayed for a while without trying to persuade Diamond off the eggs (as Xavier would). Diamond didn’t try and chase them away but made a strange keening call, which I’ve heard before when strangers are around.
Your comments are welcome! Cilla
I’m so sorry about the nest cam problems. James and Scott are both working hard to fix it. We really don’t want to have to get (or install) a new camera, especially just before hatching. Nor do we have the funds at present. We are still trying for a different solution.
I have some access to the nest cam when I’m at work as I have installed some surveillance software called Security Eye which seems to bypass the cam streamer to youtube and connect directly with the camera (which is working fine, so another reason not to replace if possible). This helps me fill in the gaps for my research.
So here is a video from that software of Diamond today getting herself in a bit of a muddle with the eggs and the walls of the box. let’s see if this works https://youtu.be/wWE8ONE59Rw. Woo-hoo it worked, well sort of. It’s very short. Now if I could just figure out how to load photos as I have nice new ones from both inside and outside the tower.
Here is another video from my youtube channel, which might be more successful. This is Diamond also trying to land sideways in the nest on a windy day. Apologies for the music. I forgot I had Spotify or something on in the background!
The other problem is that I can’t read your comments as an observer (I can through the back door, so to speak), which presumably means that you can’t read each others’ comments either. I’ve alerted Scott to this problem (and asked him how to insert photos, which I’ve uploaded to the library here). Hopefully this will be fixed soon.