With the chicks now in the ideal window for ringing, this morning’s good forecast provided the perfect opportunity to ring the chicks. It’s always a slightly nervy time, but thanks to the expertise of our friends from Sorby Breck Ringing Group, very ably led by Steve (who has the necessary license to ring Peregrines), everything passed off very safely and smoothly. Also important is the collaboration of colleagues in the University’s Estates Department, with special mention to Phil R and Steve H for their part in making it possible for this to take place.
In addition to Steve, Dean and Simon (the intrepid climber who goes over the wall to gather the chicks from the nest, securely roped of course), in picture above is Natalie from the University’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, who gathered material for analysis in their laboratories. This is part of the developing involvement of the team there, who are contributing to our understandings of the birds both locally and within the national context. As well as collecting pellets and faecal samples, we also took swabs to enable DNA analysis (as below), which will hopefully serve various purposes.
As the chicks were being processed for ringing, Steve took a series of detailed measurements, recorded by Natalie, that will help to build the picture for Peregrine chicks, for which there are few data nationally.
Another innovation this year was to fit unique colour rings to the chicks, which will make it possible to track their individual movements after they leave the nest, and potentially leave Sheffield. Details of the identifying features of the rings to follow!
Being able to do this is a direct result of the funding raised through the kind donations to the Peregrine project; do please keep the donations coming so that we can do as much as possible with the material gathered today and taken to the labs for analysis.
As ever, the only downside to this is the brief disturbance caused to the adult birds. Both were in the vicinity throughout, and while the male circled at quite a distance the female circled the tower, calling frequently.
The up side was seeing how some local residents came across to check what was happening, concerned at the disturbance to the birds. It really is terrific to know that people in the area have taken the birds to heart and look out for them. By the time we got back down to the bottom of the tower, the female was back on the nest and things quickly settled down to normal again.
With the webcams switched back on the chicks are now sporting their BTO silver rings and the colour rings, which will be more visible when they begin to stand, rather than shuffle as the do at present. That will be one of the next developmental steps, as will the appearance of their feathers, which you can occasionally already see starting to come through when they move around or stretch in the nest.
And the diary date? On Friday 2nd June we’ll be having a public talk on the Peregrines in St George’s from 7:00-8:00, when we aim to be able to share some of the findings from the data and materials collected today. That will also be very close to the date that the chicks take their first flight, so from 6:00 there will be the chance to see the birds from the church grounds through telescopes and binoculars, and to ask questions. Hope to see you there!