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!
NOW YOU DON’T!
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.
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!
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?
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.