The heavy rain that fell yesterday evening and into the night continued this morning in the form of some further torrential showers, the female sitting throughout and looking thoroughly bedraggled by this morning. Her greater size no doubt equips her better to shelter the chicks in such circumstances.
Given that the chicks are just three days old (one day in the case of the youngest) the weather has turned dangerous, with cold nights forecast into the weekend. This is exactly the sort of situation that can lead to chick mortality, as hunting opportunities become reduced for the adults, leading to temporary food shortages, combined with greater exposure to rain and cold as the adults spend more time hunting, all of which increases the risk of illness or weakness. The chicks have been left unattended briefly, but only once the worst of the weather had passed.
The male seems to be bringing in most of the food, as well as doing some brooding stints, and there were no signs that the poor weather was making it difficult to secure prey items. On hearing the male calling from the edge of the platform, one of the chicks crept out from under the female, apparently recognising a feeding opportunity and keen to make the most of it.
At one point today both parents brought food to the nest, perhaps from a nearby larder, and fed the chicks in tandem, something I’ve not seen before or read about. For most of the time, one chick went to the male, though for a while they were feeding two each.
Having survived a big challenge with the weather, the chicks will continue to face tests in the days ahead, but the parents are doing a great job of taking care of them to date. Long may it continue.
For those Peregrine watchers in the Sheffield area, we’ll be running the first of the season’s Peregrine watches at St George’s on Sunday morning (4th May) from 9-11. Hope to see you there!