Testing Times

Since we left the adventurous juv in a tree in the churchyard on Thursday evening, a lot has happened.  Below are a few shots from that evening, taken again by Andy J (you can tell he’s a professional), first of the female taking a Feral Pigeon to the juv on the roof across the road.

June 4 fem and juv

Unfortunately, when the adult released it for the juv to feed itself, the young bird failed to grab it and the pigeon rolled down the roof without begin retrieved.  Perhaps driven by hunger the juv hopped up onto the plastic ventilation pipe

June 4 juv on pipe

and launched into flight back across the road

June 4 juv flight

landing in a sycamore in the church yard back at St George’s.

June 4 juv in tree

However, my suggestion that she’d spend the night there proved optimistic and late in the evening she fell out of the tree and spent the night on the floor in the churchyard.  Incredibly, one of the local residents, who saw her fall, spent Thursday night sitting in the churchyard with the juv to make sure she came to no harm.  That really is hugely impressive, and she (and we) owe a massive debt of gratitude to Steve Beer for his dedication: he’s done us all proud.  And if that wasn’t enough, he then managed to track the juv down when she made a failed attempt to fly back up to the church tower, instead turning and flying back across the road.  After an hour or so of searching, Steve found her on a patch of gravel between some railings and a house, being mobbed by Magpies.  With assistance from someone on their way to work at the University, they called the Estates team and the juv was rescued, being carried back up the tower.  By this time, I’d arrived en route to the train station and saw the juv being released at the top of the tower, only to fly straight off again and be lost to view!

By the time I got back to Sheffield on Friday evening she’d been located and was on the roof of the University’s north campus, where she seemed quite settled.

June 5 juv N campus

Meanwhile, the second juv had taken its first flight from the ledge by the nestbox and landed on the narrow ledge at the base of the louvred window halfway down the tower.  So June 5th had proved to be the date of the first flight for one of the juvs, an uncanny repetition of timings from the previous two years.  As if this wasn’t enough action for one day, some lucky observers on Friday also saw a Red Kite over St George’s, which caused some agitation for the adults.

Saturday 6th was a lovely bright morning, so I headed down to St George’s hoping to catch up with the birds and have a chance for some photos in good light.  On arrival, the adults and juv in the louvred window were immediately apparent, and as I walked round the church looking for the roaming juv I came across her on the lower level of castellations towards the E end of the church, where I enjoyed some fantastic views and had some time to attempt some creative shots.

June 6 juv 1

June 6 juv plane

June 6 juv and adults

After an hour or so, she began to hop/ fly from one ‘outcrop’ to the next, making her way back towards the tower.

June 6 juv 3

June 6 juv 4

June 6 juv 5

On reaching the W end of the run of castellations, instead of trying to fly up, as I’d imagined she might, she dropped down onto the roof of the church, out of sight.  This prompted the adult female to drop down to check on the juv, which again gave some superb views and photo opps.

June 6 female 1

June 6 female 2

A second visit on Saturday, in the afternoon, coincided with the juv from the roof popping back up into view.

June 6 juv 8

Shortly afterwards, she hopped back down out of sight

June 6 juv 6

only to reappear flying out across the road and disappearing down the hill behind the flats.  A couple of us went off to try to locate her, without any joy, but 20 minutes later she flew back in and landed on one of the higher ledges on the tower.  It seems this one is now increasingly confident and capable in its flights, having come and gone several times.  I’m not sure if the local Woodpigeons are so clever that they know the juv is not yet a threat to them, or so daft that they don’t realise the risk, but a close encounter passed without incident.

June 6 juv and Pigeon

By the end of yesterday (Saturday 6th) all four Peregrines were on the church tower – one juv on the ledge on the E face and one back in the nestbox – and Steve Beer could enjoy a night’s sleep!

After spending several hours there on Saturday, a visit mid-morning today (Sunday) found all four still on the tower and the occasional flurry of action, although things were pretty chilled on the whole.

June 7 Female

The juv on the lower ledge fed on some remains left by the female the day before, but seemed a bit listless, even failng to show any interest when the adult came down to present it with the remains of some prey.

June 7 fem and juv

She then took it back up to the other juv and handed over the remains

June 7 fem and juv 2

before leaving the juv to its own devices, part of gradually encouraging the juvs to feed themselves.

June 7 female 2

Finally, a look at the webcam this evening found the first juv to leave the nest back on the edge of the nestbox exercising its wings before hopping onto the ledge and enjoying the evening sun.

June 7 juv webcam

Over the course of the weekend it’s struck me just how many people are keeping an eye out for the Peregrines and are committed to their well-being.  In addition to Steve and the other local residents who watch out for them, many people came to see them while I was there, some popping in on a regular basis, others from further afield (as far as Wakefield) to see them for themselves.  And when the juv flew off on Saturday afternoon and couldn’t be relocated, Tessa from the University’s Information Commons came down to St George’s to report that a student had rung in to say that one of the young birds had landed near their flat and they were concerned for it.  It really is fantastic to see so many people enjoying the Peregrines and looking out for them.  I continue to be delighted at the pleasure they are bringing to such a wide range of locals and not-so-locals, young and not-so-young alike, and would like to finish by giving a very big thank you to everyone who has contributed to the project’s success, both over this weekend and well beyond.

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10 comments

  1. Thank you for such a detailed report! I’ve just read out aloud to my partner and we were totally captivated. Are you doing a talk about the peregrines at St. Georges this year? Many thanks Linda

    1. I’m afraid we’re not doing a talk this year, but do feel free to ask any questions on the blog or on Twitter at @peregrines2015

  2. Many thanks for the superb pictures and the brilliant and informative article. As I have said before this pair of “feathered” stars make a lonely house bound old man very happy. Thanks once again keep up the good work please.

  3. It’s great to follow the blog and find out more information about the Peregrines. The photos are fab and always good to see. Thanks to Steve Beer for spending the night watching the Falcon that fell to earth!

  4. Just to say thank you : I’ve never been interested in bird watching but the webcam and blog have been truly fascinating. 😀 I even logged on when I was abroad to check up and see how they were doing.

  5. At 84 years young it is with great pleasure to me you have brought your feathered family into my flat.
    V many thanks to all concerned.

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