Not for the first time, the rollercoaster that is the fledging period threw up a sudden rise. When I passed through the churchyard on the way to the office on Tuesday morning to check all was well, I spotted Steve C staring into the bushes at the E end of the church and my fears were realised when he said simply ‘It’s in here’. He’d been on site since around 7:00, and had seen one of the young take flight from the tower and try to land in one of the large trees in the SE corner of the churchyard. Unfortunately, this is the tree that a pair of Crows had used to nest in and have raised at least one chick, and they immediately began to mob the juvenile Peregrine. They were quickly joined by a pair of Magpies that began to pull at the juvenile’s tail feathers, causing the Peregrine to flap out of the tree and drop to the ground. From there it took off and headed back up towards the church, but couldn’t gain enough height in time and crashed into a metal window grating before dropping down into a row of dense, thorny bushes. And there it was sat when I arrived.
We decided to leave it to see if it emerged of its own accord, as access was extremely difficult, and I headed off to a series of meetings. I popped back down at lunchtime and bumped into Dawn (who had a new bird for Sheffield – a ‘Siberian’ Lesser Whitethroat – in her garden a couple of winters ago!), who told me that the young Peregrine had been rescued and was with the porters in the Mappin Building. I headed down there and found that it had indeed be retrieved by Nick and, following an inspection of its wings, eyes and mouth in particular, we decided that it was in good condition and ready to be returned to the tower. There was certainly nothing wrong with its grip, for as I was inspecting it, it grabbed my finger and sunk one of its talons deep into my flesh!
Before returning it, we carefully wiped the piece of down that had caught in the corner of its eye, just visible in the photo above at 10 o’clock in its right eye.
Nick and I then took it across to St George’s and released it out of the velux at the top of the tower, without going outside ourselves. As a result, neither of the other juveniles on the tower were disturbed: a great result.
As you’ll notice from the image above, the juvenile clutched tightly with its left talons onto the primary feathers of its right wing, apparently a form of comfort, though it looked decidedly odd. It had had quite a morning and seemed a bit stunned, sitting on its haunches rather than standing, though after a couple of minutes it stood up and looked more alert.
I had work commitments that evening, but Andy J visited and reported that all three juveniles were on view and active, with no obvious ill effects of the earlier ordeal. Below are a series of terrific images taken by Andy J on Tuesday evening, with increasing flight ability shown by the juveniles, which managed several ‘clean’ landings around the top of the tower.
And a visit this evening (Thursday 9th) found the female on the panoramic webcam, one juvenile in the nestbox, joined by the male that brought in food. A second juvenile was on a building not too far away and flew in to join the adults, landing confidently on the ledge near the nestbox and then replacing the female on the webcam. This evening, two juveniles are again set to roost by the nestbox, though the whereabouts of the third are a mystery. Definitely still worth keeping an eye out if you’re in the area.