Drama On The Peregrine Ledge

It has been an action-packed few weeks for the NTU peregrine falcon chicks.  After spending a week in Dartmoor (me, not the chicks) with little internet access, I returned on May 26th to discover that all four were out of the nest and exploring the surrounding ledge.  Most of their down had been replaced by stunning feathers and they were looking truly beautiful and elegant.

They have since been feeding themselves, flapping their wings, spending more time on their own and out of sight of the cameras, but on June 1st camera one captured something extremely dramatic (and a little bit funny if you keep watching it) which you can view in slow motion here.

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As you can see, one of the chicks attempted to fly and ended up crashing into its mother causing them to tumble off the edge of the building!  Luckily both were fine and the chick landed on a lower ledge.  As the chick had not properly fledged and was unable to fly, it could not return to the nest, however it has been reported that the adults have continued to feed it!  Despite this, I (and I am sure many others) have been a little worried about the chick over the last few days in the rain and wind… and unfortunately I have some sad news.  After following the peregrine falcons throughout the whole nesting cycle, it breaks my heart to announce that earlier today the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust reported that one of the chicks (I am not entirely sure whether it was the one on the lower ledge) had “been killed yesterday on the road below the ledge”.  It is assumed that “it got blown off or lost control of a flight in the ferocious wind we have been experiencing”.  Obviously this is a terrible shame as the four chicks were each doing brilliantly, but it is important to know and remember that less than a third of peregrines actually reach breeding age, so the family have still done very well.  Those peregrines that do reach breeding age are expected to live for 6-13 years, but the oldest known peregrine was over 16 years old!  So let’s keep our fingers crossed for the remaining three!

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All stills taken from the NTU live stream.

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The Fourth Peregrine Chick

As hoped, today was the day that the fourth NTU peregrine falcon chick hatched out of its egg.  I checked the live stream at 13:15 after my sister messaged me about them… and there it was, it had hatched just before 1pm!  The male was feeding the larger chicks a feral pigeon as chick number four (being less than half an hour old) was getting used to the world and its siblings.

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The newly hatched chick and its siblings waiting for food.

After a few minutes, Mrs P returned to the scrape and I just managed to save a still image of the whole family together!  WARNING: Some may find the below image disturbing.

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All four chicks (eyases) are being kept warm and fed and are looking healthy and ‘wide-beaked’ this evening.  Peregrine falcon chicks eat a tremendous amount of food and if all goes well, this time next week they will have doubled their weight and in three weeks, will be ten times their birth size!  I am very much looking forward to following their progress over the next six weeks or so as they rapidly get bigger, grow juvenile feathers and eventually fledge the nest.  Once they start to fly they will depend on their parents for a few further weeks to learn how to hunt, so Archie and Mrs P still have a lot of work to do… and we still have a lot of great things to watch!

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All stills taken from camera two of the NTU live stream.

Peregrine Chicks

It has been a busy few days for NTU’s resident pair of peregrine falcons, Archie and Mrs P, as their eggs have been hatching!  The hardworking parents have been incredible to watch over the incubation period, taking it in turns to keep the eggs warm, so much so that I don’t think I actually saw all four eggs together on the live stream! Their first chick hatched around midday on Sunday 23rd April, followed by the second that evening.

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The third chick hatched from its egg at 21:16 on Monday 24th April and all three chicks have since been helping their parents keep the fourth egg warm.

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At 15:57 on Tuesday 25th April, I noticed what I thought to be a crack/hole in the fourth egg and some movement coming from inside (see image below) before it began sleeting!  Several people on social media also agreed, however the chick is yet to hatch…  I expect (and hope) tomorrow will be the day.

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Archie and Mrs P have both been extremely diligent – I have seen them regularly swapping jobs of hunting and protecting their brood and love the wiggle Mrs P does as she settles down on top of the chicks and final egg.  There has also been a lot of live camera action in terms of feeding, which although can be quite disturbing for some viewers, is a truthful glimpse into the world of these beautiful, wild peregrine falcons.

All stills taken from camera two of the NTU live stream.

30 Days Wild 11-20

June has not been the warm, sunny month I had hoped for, but it has not stopped me from going wild for the #30DaysWild challenge.  Not all of my activities have been outdoors, but I have certainly been learning a lot and developing an interest in new topics.

11. I did some extensive reading on the subject of Habitat Management in the UK, including general principles, management planning, surveying, monitoring and research.

12. I watched some fantastic LIVE wildlife footage online.  I tend to go into a different world when I do this and feel so close to the creatures I am watching.

13. A creative act of wildness! I added this British Wildflower drawing to my sketchbook:

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14. I withdrew some ‘wild’ books from the library: ‘Why Big Fierce Animals are Rare’, ‘Managing Habitats for Conservation’ and ‘British Plant Communities – Woodlands and Scrubs’.

15. I once again embraced the rain and this time stood outside in it (under an umbrella) for over a hour and actually felt very content.

16. Once the patio had dried, I did a Sun Salutation yoga sequence in my garden.

17. After getting rid of an aphid-infested plant, there had been a gap for something new in my garden, so as a slight experiment, I planted a cutting from an unknown plant that someone gave me.  Lets hope it grows and turns into something beautiful.

18. I visited one of my favourite places in my city for a peaceful walk – the University of Leicester Botanic Garden. With their extensive collection of plants and wildlife, I managed to take a few decent photos too.

19. I relived my childhood by spotting and catching little frogs with my dad and sister in her new garden.

20. As I am starting a new job at a university next month, I am eager to get involved with as much as I can, so I contacted Hungry for Change – a growing project that aims to change the way staff and students think about what they’re eating and why.  It has a 40m x 40m plot including 9 large raised beds, a huge herb bed, a soft fruit area teaming with different fruit bushes, a 22m edible hedge, a 12ft greenhouse and a south facing wall complete with cordon apple trees and their very own Fig tree.  I will be meeting with the Project Coordinator in the next couple of weeks and will hopefully have some interesting experiences and developments to blog about in the future!