Having seen reports that only two birds were visible mid-morning today (Friday 3rd), I popped along to St George’s at lunchtime to check on the situation. Two of the young birds were flapping vigorously on the nest platform, exercising those wing muscles.
As ‘branchers’ (a term explained in the previous post), they were also heading out onto the webcam housing and generally half hopping, half flapping about, all under the watchful gaze of the male perched on the top turret.
It didn’t take long to locate the third juvenile, which had made its way round to the W side of the church, facing the Diamond, where it was using one of the lighting structures to do similar exercises.
With all in order, I headed home to mark essays…
When I checked my e-mails later in the afternoon it became clear that I’d missed some serious action. At 15:29 one of the two juveniles flapping on the perch pole had lost its grip and fallen off. I must thank Andy J for the detailed account of what happened, and for the amazing series of images below.
In an attempt to break the fall, it collided with the side of the church as it scrabbled to grab onto something.
On failing to cling to the wall, it took to flight and circled out over Broad Lane.
Fortunately, it came back towards the church and attempted to land in a tree, but failed and rather crash landed on the ground, where it looked pretty stunned.
The evidence of the collision with the facade of the church is apparent on the left-hand side of its beak, though this doesn’t look too bad and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. Once it had gathered itself, it made towards the busy road, but quick action by Andy and a few others headed it off and it made instead for the doors of the church. Perhaps it wanted to get back up!
Members of the University Estates team (big thanks to Emma) worked with Andy and Mike S to capture the bird and take it back up to the top of the church, where it was released onto the nest platform. This was effective in securing the plunger, but spooked the other two: the bird I’d seen on the lights on the W side flew onto the roof of the Diamond, while the other flew across Broad Lane onto a block of flats.
In the meantime, the female understandably repeated her agitation of the ringing and flew around the tower calling noisily.
By the time I got down there this evening, the returned bird was sitting quietly on top of the nestbox and the two adults were perched up not too far away. There was no sign of the other two juveniles, but fingers crossed they’re settled quietly. So the time from hatching to fledging has again been remarkably consistent, with the prediction of 3rd-4th June coming good. All seems quiet tonight, with the juvenile having dropped back into the box for the night.
This is always a nerve-wracking time, and we’re in for a fraught weekend I suspect, with further excitement to come no doubt. If you are about tomorrow or Sunday, it’ll be great to have people around to keep tabs on the young birds, especially if they try to fly back towards the church. Thanks to all those who sent me an e-mail to let me know what was happening this afternoon. Do keep them coming if there’s a situation developing.