At a fortnight old the chicks are becoming increasingly mobile, though they are not yet able to walk on their feet, still shuffling on their folded tarsi (equivalent of moving around on your shins). Now that the adults leave them unbrooded for most of the time, as predicted in last weekend’s post, the chicks are using their mobility to seek the most sheltered part of the platform, especially with the brisk westerlies and rain we’ve had this week. The result has been that they’re spending much of their time huddled in the corner of the platform that is hidden to the camera, which has disappointed some, but the key thing to bear in mind is that they are keeping warm and improving their chances of survival. In the end that’s what this is all about, and if we get to enjoy some great views of them along the way it’s a bonus.
So this is a typical view via the webcam for much of the time at present, but you can see the tail of a bird. One of the adults has taken to perching on top of the box, which is a bit of a surprise, though last year’s chicks also liked hopping up onto there before they fledged. Perhaps it’s a better vantage point and gives a sense of security.
Both adults continue to do a good job in providing food for the chicks and ensuring that all four get fed. In the screengrab above you can see three of the chicks at the same time and the female seemed keen to carry on feeding even when the chicks seemed to have had enough. It’s behind you! One chick in particular shuffled to the edge of the platform and was keen to have a look at the world beyond the platform, clearly thinking outside the box (sorry!).
Something else that was evident during this feed was that the chicks were showing the first signs of an interest in the food. As you can see above, one of the chicks was pulling at a feather on the pigeon that had been brought in. Over the next week or so, we can expect them to start to feed themselves, though it will be a gradual process, with the parents taking the lead in feeding for a while yet. And the final thing we’ve learned at a fortnight is that wing-stretching and even flapping have begun in earnest.
This will begin the strengthening of the wing muscles ahead of flight, and will also start to dislodge the down to reveal the feathers that are growing through and are visible towards the wing tips above. As they do this more and more (preening will also remove the down), and continue to grow, they should spend less time sheltering in the corner (out of sight) and give more views.
With this proving a quiet week on the webcam, it’s worth mentioning that at least one adult is present around the church and there’s comings and goings on a regular basis. An evening visit resulted in a few decent shots as the male arrived at the church.
The weekend weather looks pretty good for the most part, so another Peregrine watch seems in order: I’ll be there on Sunday morning from 7.30 to 9.30 with a telescope and binoculars if you don’t have any – an early start will mean the best light from a good angle before the sun moves behind the platform and makes viewing more difficult. Spread the word and hope to see you there.