Month: June 2020

A Big Weekend?

Well the weekend didn’t get off to the most auspicious start when at Friday teatime one of the youngsters got it’s aim all wrong and showered its parent in projectile poo!  The weather was pretty foul also throughout Friday although maybe the disrespected parent bird was glad of some rain to help wash the mess away!  It was very murky again at first light on Saturday – not much light could be seen at all beyond the nest platform.  There was a big meal brought in at one point on Friday afternoon, looked like it may possibly have been something more varied than a pigeon but there was that much rain on the camera lens it was pretty hard to tell.

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The crime scene was captured by @doggie3132

As predicted TNF followed TRF on making trips out of the nest box onto the stone ledge during the day on Friday and then onto the perch a little later.  TRF then went one further by starting to go up on to the top of the nest platform and has done so frequently on Saturday morning.  If you look at the wide camera and can only see TNF, then check for a pair of feet poking into the top of frame as this is where TRF is likely to be found!  I guess if they were Owls or Kites or Buzzards nesting in a tree, this exploratory hopping out of the nest phase would be classed as “branching?”

It’s interesting to see the difference between the two youngsters with TRF clearly being the bolder, the first to explore the boundaries.  After hatching only hours apart TRF and TNF have grown at similar rates, been fed regularly and pretty equally and have shared food with remarkable good grace and sibling tolerance.  There’s nothing physical to distinguish between them so we are probably seeing  the slight differences in their “character” now.  Or whatever the avian equivilant of character is.

 

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They really do act like twins.  It’s hilarious seeing them stood watching the world side-by-side on the edge of the box, their heads moves in unison, looking up, down and all around as the parent Peregrines or the birds circle the tower.  It’s as if their two little heads are joined by a piece of string!  They don’t miss a thing.  They are very observant and inquisitive and there’s something just magical about the matt blue hue around their eyes.  A blue which will eventually give way to yellow when they reach full adulthood. They huddle together for warmth, they shelter from the rain together, they stand and gaze together, they eat together.  It’s great to see. Hopefully they will stick together when they take to the skies and learn to hunt and survive for themselves.

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Blue eyed twins

Today is the 38th day since they hatched early on the morning of May 7th.  In most previous years the time from hatching to first flight has been 38 or 39 days*, so this weekend is the time to keep a closer eye on the cameras than ever.

*there was a 35 day wind assisted “fledging” in 2015.

I expect TRF will be the first to take to the wing.  Don’t expect too much, it will likely be clumsy and short, and lets hop it’s controlled enough so neither of them ends up on the ground.  On the other watched urban nests birds have been jumping off (before they were properly ready) left right and centre this week.  Grounded birds have been found and hurriedly returned to the roof at Wakefield, Norwich and multiple times at York Minster.  Once they have made that first tentative leap, with a bit of luck they will land on one of the tower ledges or the main church roof so will be harder to spot for a day or two.  Once they start to get a bit stronger and more in control they then can often be seen on the cameras more often again as they return to the platform for meals.

Of course we may have to wait a few days more yet, adventurous as these two seem they probably need to build up further wing strength with more vigorous flapping than we’ve seen so far and the foul weather is a disincentive too.  Now more than ever is the time to be glued to your screens.

Please Tweet if you see a bird take flight and tag @SheffPeregrines and @ShefBirdStudy to let us all know.  If you see that a bird has landed at ground level or is in peril for any other reason please call the University of Sheffield Security Team on 0114 222 4085 so they can secure the area and notify the relevant people.

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Nap time

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asleep on the edge

TNF snoozing

Here’s TNF having a snooze whilst stood right on the edge of the platform. It’s a 130ft drop down below!

It’s just goes to show how strong the eyases have become that they can stand there, rock solid, confident, nonchalant even. The grip exerted by their feet and talons anchoring them to the wooden edge. No wonder those talons make such light work of snatching and dispatching their prey once they take to the skies. It even looks like TNF is standing on one leg! Although that may be just the camera angle.

TNF’s head was even jerking about in his/her slumbers. Do Peregrines dream I wonder?

Who’d have thought watching them perch and do nothing would be so addictive? They look more stunning each and every day. Even in this gloomy weather.

Now you see them…

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“On the edge…” – earlier this week, with downy crowns

This week the birds have taken to standing on the edge of the platform and peering over.  TRF was the first to try it out but TNF has now joined in.  They’ve been giving us all palpitations.  Jumping about, flapping a lot, wobbling a bit….  and that’s just within the nest box.  Then they stand on the edge and start flapping about.  And when that’s not enough they stand on the edge… and then have a snooze!  Or stand on one leg and have a scratch!  I watch them with a sense of dread that will topple over into the abyss!

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Just a 5 week old Peregrine chick… On one leg…  Above a 130ft drop…..  Nothing to see here!

NOW YOU DON’T!

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In hiding!

So it can be a bit worrying to return to the monitor to be greeted by this!  An apparently empty nest.  Even more remarkable given how much the chicks have grown.  Its 2 weeks now since they were ringed and just look at how much they have changed.  They appear to have doubled in size.  At ringing they were still fluffy white, downy chicks with a few flight feathers poking through, the down was just starting to fall away a little if they moved or scratched.

Fast forward two weeks and they look like proper Peregrines – big, strong with slate grey wings and backs, like the dark clouds of a coming storm. They’re not as big yet as their imposing mother but they are starting to look somewhat like adults now nevertheless.  They can’t possibly be hidden behind the wooden box side.  They’re too big aren’t they?  They must have fallen….  Then a feather pokes out and they shuffle into view and start jumping and flapping like madmen again.

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Mad flapping half hour on Monday 8th June

Peregrine chicks looks so small and frail when they hatch, so vulnerable so high up, susceptible to both the record-breaking sun of May and the stiff northerly winds which heralded the end of a phenomenal dry spell.  And yet here they are 5 short weeks later looking big, healthy and strong.  They’ve been flapping their wings and hopping about the platform all week in fair wind and foul, they look all around inquisitively.  They constantly gaze into the skies with an air of impatience, an instinct that they know where they belong, out there, on the wing, on the breeze.  And there’s a boldness and confidence about them which is wonderful to see but as mentioned, there’s plenty of heart in the mouth moments.  I quite like it when they are hunkered down to sleep!

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Having missed a year of watching chicks grow I’m really bowled over by the sheer speed of their development.  Five weeks.  Not even long enough for half a term at school.  Five weeks to go from wobbly fluff ball to not far off adult size – a development that would take 16 or so human years.  Perhaps we’ve just forgotten how quick the growth really is?  Or have they grown more rapidly because they have fewer siblings to compete for food?At ringing, the birds weighed in at really good healthy weights for their age but weren’t so big as to be remarkable or out of the ordinary.  But they are not going wanting for food.  They are being fed regularly and well.  They don’t have to squabble to get a full crop each.  Perhaps they take after their mother, a big, strong looking Peregrine?

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They certainly have character these two, a sense of adventure about them perhaps?  And now is the time to enjoy them as they grow in confidence for it will not be long at all before they take their first tentative trips into the skies – and once they do they will become less visible as they land on the roof and ledges out of site of the cameras at times.

TRF seems to be the bolder of the two.  He/She took to surfing the edge of the platform first and has taken hops right out of the platform onto the perch on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I’ve not caught TNF doing the same yet but it I expect he/she will today or tomorrow.  Keep an eye out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it rains…

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You may have seen how inquisitive and bold the birds have been getting this week (more on that later) as they continue to grow at lightning speed but it has just started raining, so they’ve scurried away to shelter together in the corner!  They haven’t been this quiet when awake all week!

Here they are huddled together to stay warm and dry, like two peas in a pod.  Good to see they still like each other’s company! They look more and more magnificent with each passing day don’t they?

They’ve eaten well today with two servings of pigeon.