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.
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.
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.
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.