Monday, 1 June 2015

30 Days Wild Day 1: A Date With the Peregrines

Well. I don't know about you, but that wasn't quite what I was expecting from the first day of June! It certainly didn't feel like Summer is around the corner, that's for sure. I hope that, despite the slightly dismal weather, you managed to commit a random act of wildness on day one of 30 Days Wild!

I was rather lucky to spend my "Day One" in Chichester with the peregrines; what a fantastic way to kick off the month! I was in volunteer mode in the marquee and thoroughly enjoyed chatting to a steady stream of visitors throughout the morning. Since I last blogged about the peregrines, the chicks have been growing at an incredible rate and are now three weeks old. They were ringed yesterday by a trained ringer from the Sussex Ornithological Society so we now have confirmation of two females and a male. I still cannot get over the speed at which they are changing! They have been demonstrating lots of wing-flapping, moving around the turret and are now being fed larger strips of food by the female; I've even seen the odd starling leg being swallowed whole!

Wing-flapping on 30/5/15

The adult birds were very active today, definitely the most active I've seen them since I've been working there. Early in the day, the female took off suddenly from on top of the turret and began squawking an alarm call, before pursuing a buzzard that was gliding directly above our tent. We had a fantastic view as the falcon took several low swoops on to the buzzard and she earned a few gasps from the spectators as we saw how close she came to the intruder. While this was happening, the male remained perched inside the top band of tracery on the cathedral spire, obviously content that she was taking care of things sufficiently. 

Later on in the day, I was fortunate to witness a great example of a food pass between the male and female. Thankfully these events are always preempted by some form of noise from the birds so I was able to look up at the right moment to catch the act. For the remainder of the day, the female remained very alert, frequently taking off and circling the cathedral before returning to the turret. She even chased off a herring gull and pigeon on separate occasion, the latter while she was still carrying food in her talons! This is unusual as normally the peregrines don't take any notice of these smaller birds. We expect she was slightly on edge after yesterday's ringing, as any conscientious parent would be.

The chicks are all at healthy weights, are getting fed frequently and their adult feathers are coming through rapidly, and it will only be between two and three weeks more before they are ready to fledge. I have to admit, that is the part I am most looking forward to seeing. Once they have a full set of juvenile plumage and they take their first flights, what a sight that will be!

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