Last year saw the second chick fledge on 13th June, a day after the first, and the symmetry that was started yesterday continued, with both of the other chicks fledging today, exactly one year on.
The day started on a worrying note, as the first chick off the nest, which was on the lower walls in the afternoon, was found on the ground early this morning. Fortunately, Jim Lonsdale was on hand to step in and rescue it, managing to gather the chick up safely, with no injuries being suffered by either party, despite those talons! (Thanks to James Screaton for the picture below.)
Jim followed the practice of those who ring birds and put the chick in a large bag to try to avoid undue stress and human contact, before getting the bag to the top of the church tower and letting the chick out, where it appeared none the worse for its experience. Well done Jim! By the time I arrived it had flapped out on to the lighting rig on the W side of the site, but later moved back onto the wall around the top of the church.
The second chick also left the nest platform early in the morning, flapping from the edge of the platform onto the ledge, where it spent the rest of the day, shuffling along to beg for food from whichever of the parents landed nearby.
Neither adult brought any food in to the site, and the male in particular moved off quickly as soon as the chick approached.
After much flapping on top of the nest platform and even the webcam box, with encouragement from the female on the perching post, the third chick eventually tried to get up onto the wall behind the platform, and what happened next is captured in the sequence of images below.
This was hardly something that could be described as a planned flight, but nonetheless was pretty successful. The chick flew off above the church roof for a hundred metres or so and then circled round back towards the church tower and landed on one of the lower turrets.
So by lunchtime all three chicks had fledged and were safely on various points of the church.
Interestingly, shortly after this the male brought in what looked like a Starling and began to prepare it for the chicks’ first meal of the day. It really did seem that not bringing food in was being used as the major way of encouraging the chicks to leave the next platform, and hopefully they’ll now be fed well over the coming days before they can start to fend for themselves. Also interesting to hear on BBC Springwatch, which featured the Sheffield birds alongside some other urban sites this evening, that Starling is often a preferred prey item on which young birds are taught to feed for themselves. Apparently there are some 50 urban pairs in Britain, and it’s great to count Sheffield among those cities lucky enough to enjoy them in our skies.