I came in late this afternoon to the university and had a look around, but again no luck. Mind you, it’s a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack because of all the long grass and bushes around the area. Some of the university grounds are landscaped, but there is a large patch of ‘bush’ just below the nest-box. Swift was in the box and took no notice of me, which is admittedly odd.
Thank you for all the comments and queries. I’ll try and take these on board. It is unfortunately a very busy time of year for me, so cannot do updates continuously throughout the day. I understand why some of you are upset, and I realise that you are all anxiously waiting for news, so I am trying my best. I haven’t had a day off since September. In fact, I’m considering turning down a (semi-paid) board position for next year because of the time needed, not to mention the bad timing. Last year the work came over Christmas/New so that made it easy. It requires assessment of 200 applications for grants for the Environmental Trust (A$4 million) and is due next week…. I also have many other commitments for work and community organisations.
Assigning someone else to do the (peregrine) work is not easy. There is no funding available for this (and nor for Scott and myself, I should add). I am an Adjunct Lecturer in Environmental Management at the university (ie unpaid) and Scott is starting up a new IT business and is no longer on campus (although has access, thank goodness). We are in a rural area, so do not have a large pool of volunteers. I did have some voluntary help while I was in Finland during our winter, but the work is more complicated at this time of year and it needs to be someone completely trustworthy as they would be using my computer. But thank you for this suggestion and I will see if I can find someone suitable.
I was hoping to get an Honours student, but just one nest-box is unlikely to produce enough suitable data, so I would have to think carefully about an appropriate project. I tried to get permission initially for banding (= ringing) the chicks, but this was knocked back by our animal ethics’ committee. However, I could try again next year as I’ve kept up my banding licence and the composition of the committee has since changed.
Anyway I very much appreciate your comments. The university community has been alerted to the Aspro problem and Scott and I have both sent around instructions to staff as to what to do if they find her (most of the students have gone on holiday). I’ll be in tomorrow afternoon to have another search and provide an update tomorrow or Wednesday.