I think it was me!
The responsibility of not hurting, not injuring, not scaring, and definitely not dropping any of our three young birds had been preying on me for much of the afternoon.
|Ant Messenger ringing one of our new chicks |
inside the Cathedral Tower. photo: Helen Naylor
|Back on the nest ledge. Slightly indignant maybe?|
However, we took our small assembled audience up to the top of the tower where we assessed the conditions from the roof. The wind blew firmly from the east - straight at the nest and, worryingly, experience had shown us just how easily our ropes could get blown round the corner of the tower and get snagged on the intricate stonework, making them incredibly hard to retrieve. We decided to tie an empty rucksack to the two ropes and lower it down to see how badly it got blown about. It went down fine - the falcon standing on the side of the nest, wondering what was going on, obviously reluctant to leave her chicks. With the rain looking some way off we decided to give it a go. Everyone piled down the tower stairs, leaving just me and Nicole, one of the Rolls Royce apprentices who had been working with our project recently. Nicole had revealed she was a climber, so I asked her to run through the safety checks with me prior to the abseil. We both agreed it was always the first few steps over the edge that made us both nervous. I had my own survival as well as that of the chicks to make me doubly nervous.
Once down at the nest I found the wind was a lot less noticeable. I locked myself off on the rope, and listened to the calls of the falcon who by now had obviously left the nest and was flying noisily around the tower. The chicks were also hissing at me in alarm, cowered in the corner of the nest platform. Then came the even more terrifying bit - picking up each bird and carefully putting each one inside a padded rucksack. Mindful of concerns from a falconer friend who had expressed concern about developing wing feathers being damaged by careless handling, I did the best I could to pick each one up and pop it inside. Disentangling needle-sharp talons embedded in my gloves was necessary before the next one could captured. The precious cargo was lowered as gently as possible to the nave roof where Ant Messenger was ready to bring them inside for the really skilled bit - the ringing. Each bird gets two metal rings - one bright orange, bearing a three digit number
|Say 'cheese' everyone|
|Is this the worst selfie ever?|
|A chick's-eye view from the Derby Cathedral nest ledge.|
Ant, our ringer, has suggested that this year we have two males and a female. More on which is which, and what ring number they each have later on in the week.