Is Our Male at Norwich Cathedral a Super Dad?

At Norwich Cathedral our four amazing peregrine chicks seem to be doing incredibly well and growing at a fast pace, being fed regularly by the dad every day.  From our observations, we can now confirm that the Norwich female has not been seen since 15 May and as such can conclude that she is no longer in the Norwich area.  However despite the lack of presence from the female, the chicks’ current development does not seem to be affected. Our male is doing a fantastic job of looking after them all and at this rate; he will be being nominated for Super Dad of the year. 

To provide viewers of our webcams with an understanding of what is happening at Norwich Cathedral, we have been researching the current behavioural patterns that have been seen.  What is of interest in this particular case is the behaviour that GA has shown towards our resident female at Norwich.  GA’s regular visits to Norwich over the past year suggests that she may be struggling to find a territory and/or mate of her own and is therefore intruding into another territory to achieve this.  She has moved East into an area of the UK, where there may be less suitable breeding sites compared to the more abundant natural breeding cliffs available in traditional areas in the West and North of the country.

Our present understanding of this area of Peregrine behaviour is poorly understood and it is possible that this could be a common scenario in the peregrine world.  It is only because the intruder can be identified by its colour ring and there is a Webcam viewing them, alongside a regular watchpoint to record all this that we know what is going on.  This behaviour may happen frequently but now we get to see it online and through social media, mainly at urban breeding sites, are we able to learn from it.

This highlights the need to continue research and use new technologies to better understand raptor behaviour. The Peregrine is one of the most well-studied raptor species but this example shows that our knowledge of this species is still limited and needs further work into the future. Whilst it may be uncomfortable viewing for some, this a natural occurrence and we should remain as observers. A policy of non-intervention is essential to understand this behaviour and its possible outcomes.

Caution should also be exercised in regard to anthropomorphising this behaviour. Interpreting animal behaviour in the context of human behaviour can lead to misunderstanding why species behave in the way they do. All species are in a constant struggle for survival and have a strong need to pass on their genes to the next generation. This creates competition between and within species and is essentially what we are witnessing at Norwich Cathedral.

We can now also reveal, following the ringing and DNA sampling on Monday 16 May, which we confirm did not cause our resident female to desert the nest, that all four chicks are in fact female.  The DNA results received by the Hawk and Owl Trust have conclusively proven this to us.  The current sexing methods used are based upon biometrics taken at the point of ringing, such as their weight, physical size and wingspan, however technology is racing along and this year, for the first time, we were in a position where DNA samples could be taken, which will confirm without a doubt the sex of all the individuals.  Also following the ringing we can now release the information noted on their rings.  Once they fledge, we will then be able to track the whereabouts and progress of our chicks in and around Norwich and possibly further afield.  The details found on the orange rings on their legs are YY, 41, 42 and 43.  Each bird has its own number or initials and this allows us to identify each chick individually.

Here at the Hawk and Owl Trust, staff and volunteers alike, are all deeply saddened by the disappearance of our resident female, which has been about since 2012.  However we must now take this opportunity to observe the peregrine, and learn together about what happens as the story unfolds. 

Our four Peregrine chicks being fed by mum on 4 May 2016
Our four Peregrine chicks being fed by mum on 4 May 2016
Twenty days later, on 24th May, and all four chicks have grown considerably, with dad doing a great job in feeding them all.
Twenty days later, on 24 May, and all four chicks have grown considerably, with dad doing a great job in feeding them all regularly.   

Drama up in the Spire at Norwich Cathedral

Over the past few days there have been dramatic events happening at Norwich Cathedral with regards to an ‘intruder’, known as GA, being seen and causing disturbance to our nesting platform at Norwich Cathedral.  For the full press release and the Hawk and Owl Trust’s policy regarding this matter, please read below:  On Saturday 14th… Continue Reading

Avalon Marshes Unveils its Brand New Tower Hide

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Norwich Cathedral Peregrine Season Continues with the Successful Hatching of all 4 Eggs

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Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve has a fantastic start to spring 2016

Here at Sculthorpe Moor Community Nature Reserve in Norfolk, spring is certainly buzzing! The weather is getting milder and the summer migratory bird sightings as well as other wildlife are starting to increase.  These have included frogs spawning, water rail, marsh harrier displaying, buzzards, kestrels, red kites, redpoll, siskins, kingfishers, goldfinch, nesting tree creepers, nuthatches, lapwings, swallows, sand martins, house martins… Continue Reading

Norwich Cathedral Peregrine Season 2016 Kicks Off with the Laying of 4 eggs

The Hawk and Owl Trust Urban Peregrine Project at Norwich Cathedral is off to a flying start this season with the laying of four eggs starting on Friday 18th through to Saturday 26th March.  Please see below for specific timings and dates.     (Timings are approximate to the nearest 5 minutes) 1st Egg: Friday… Continue Reading

Disabled Access Day on 12 March – CANCELLED DUE TO FLOODING

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Is This a Glorious Solution? HOT Chairman Philip Merricks on the Hen Harrier Recovery Plan

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Hawk and Owl Trust Install a New Peregrine Nest Box on Wymondham Abbey

On Saturday 13th February, a volunteer team of intrepid explorers climbed to the top of the tower at Wymondham Abbey in Norfolk to install a brand new peregrine nest box on the roof. For the past few years peregrine activity and remains of their meals have been found around the Abbeys grounds. So the team… Continue Reading

Volunteering Opportunities Still Available for the 2016 Norwich Cathedral Peregrine Watch Point

If you would like to meet like minded people who love birds as much as you do then we are looking for people to come and help volunteer with us at the Norwich Cathedral Peregrines Watch Point for the 2016 season.   The watch point will be opening on Wednesday 23rd March 2016 and will run… Continue Reading