I have to admit to being very nervous today. It wasn't the thought of lowering myself on a rope from the top of Derby Cathedral Tower that did it. I was worried about having to pick up four feisty young peregrine chicks, place them carefully inside a specially padded bag and lower them down on a rope to my friend, Anthony, waiting below. Ant is a licensed bird ringer, and had asked me if I would assist him with the abseiling bit of the process as his normal helper wasn't available. I'd never held a young peregrine before (everyone has their first time), but the idea of accidentally doing them harm or damaging their growing feathers was concerning me greatly. Dropping them all would not go down well at all.
Arriving at the nest platform, I found our four downy chicks were cowering quietly in one corner. Every year we have a narrow date range during which to ring the chicks before their reaction turns to running around or lying on their bags with their sharp talons waving, ready to fend off an attacker.
Well, we did get the date right, but nevertheless they certainly did a good job in the fending-off department. Claws and beaks were most forthcoming, and I soon began to wonder what I had let myself in for as I tried to subdue and pick up one angry chick at a time. I was too fearful of hurting them to pay any attention to our adult falcon who was flying round and round the tower, calling for all she was worth.
With a small crowd of onlookers below, many armed with such long camera lenses you thought they might reach up and touch you, it was a real responsibility being up there. It was also tinged with the realisation that any stupidity on my part would be captured on film forever, and certainly held against me!
But I eventually got all four chicks into the bag which was then lowered carefully to the nave roof.
Inside the clock tower where Ant, the ringer, Tony Grantham, and Helen and Joyce, two stalwart peregrine supporters and Watch Point leaders who had both been invited to come along to watch.
As you can see from the pictures below, they have now all been rings and returned safely to the nest platform.
From the size of each bird, Ant believes we have three males and one female. One ring broke whilst being put on, so our 2012 brood looks like this:
Male Orange ring no 016 (on left leg)
Male Orange ring no 018 (on left leg)
Female Orange ring no 019 (on left leg)
Male Orange ring no 020 (on left leg)
Once again, thanks to Ant for doing the actual ringing and to Joyce who took the photos inside the tower.There are more of her pictures of the ringing event on our Flickr page as well as a number of screen captures from the webcams.
|Tail feathers already coming through - we may ring earlier next year.|
|Ringed chick back ion the nest platform|
|Hey, just look at this bling!|
|Look - all that meat and it's getting away!|
On a different note, of our local photographers, Ian (aka Superbrad) has posted a lovely set of his photos he took at Wednesday's Watch Point. You can set the speed at which the pictures change. Ian, I'll be dropping you an email to see if the Project Team can use a few of your super shots.