Thursday, March 19, 2009

Good news/Bad news on cameras & when can we expect eggs?

The good news is that the cameras don't seem to have been flashing much this week. More good news is that we finally got a recommendation of a different setting to try on the cameras to alleviate the strobing effect. The bad news is the recommendation wasn't a for-sure fix. It was only a suggestion. There was no guarantee that changing the setting would fix the flashing or make the problem worse or have no affect at all. Further bad news is that the recommendation wasn't received until earlier this week - beyond the "last day out on the ledge date of 3/13" that we had established.

Taking everything into consideration we made the decision to keep the camera settings as they are. Technically, in an emergency yes, we could still access the ledge. However doing so does present a risk. As we get closer to egg laying and the birds become more protective of their nest, there is always the risk that one of the birds could become injured in the process of defending their territory against us. Given all the circumstances we determined that trying to change the settings on the cameras this late in the game was NOT worth the risk, especially if the different settings made the problem worse which would require additional trip(s) out on the ledge to re-adjust.

So where does this leave us? The live streaming views of the ledge and nestbox are-for the most part-operational. If you are watching and the flashing starts and it is bothersome to watch, please check back at a later time. Also remember that the refreshed stills are always another option. In fact, up until a couple of years ago, the refreshed still images was all that we offered and viewers were perfectly content with being able to watch the goings-on at the nest that way. Right now only the ledgecam stills are working but we are optimistic that next week the nestbox stills will be back. Looking further down the road we may consider switching back to the old cameras when we access the ledge to get the nestlings at banding. We will explore the possibilities and determine a course of action later this spring.

OK, enough about the technical camera "drama" and now for the fun part-the birds! So, when can we expect eggs? Peregrines elsewhere in Ohio have already started laying. Typically, Cleveland and Cleves are the first and Columbus starts later in the month. Scout and Orville have been observed mating on the ledge (I tried to save a video clip the other day but I wasn't fast enough). And I've seen Orville bring food to Scout several times as well. What does all of this mean? Basically, it means things are on track and progressing normally. When can we expect an egg? Your guess is as good as mine at this point! Last year, the first egg was laid on 3/29. In 2007, Scout laid her first (but also infertile) egg on 3/24. Generally, once a female is mature she will lay her eggs about the same time each year. This year will only be Scout's 3rd year to produce eggs so she really doesn't have the history yet to predict with any certainty when we might see an egg. Bottom line, we're all in the same boat to stay tuned in to see what happens!