Sunday, 12 June 2016

Fledging time approaches

Our four chicks are now fully feathered, with only a few specks of fluff remaining.
So we can expect them to prepare themselves for fledging by wing flapping and getting on the edge of the platform to feel the air and get their bearings.
While it is possible that one of them might accidentally get pushed off and be forced to fly early, the wing flapping stage can (and usually does) last for several days.
It will also happen that one or more juvenile will disappear from the platform, only to re-appear again some time later.
They begin to climb up at the back of the platform to positions invisible to our cameras.
Already several observers have struggled to see all four of them and have thought one must have fledged only for it to reappear minutes later.
Since 2006, we have had seven or eight of the juveniles come to ground on their maiden flight.

This male came down in 2011. he was much easier to catch
and handle than any of the females!

Alert watchers or passers-by have contacted us and we had managed to catch the fallen birds, put them in a large cardboard box (within which they settle down and stop flapping) and take them back to the top of the tower for a second attempt. These 'second goes' have so far always been successful.
This morning I took a 'rescue' box, gardening gloves plus cloth (to throw over a fallen bird) down to the cathedral ready in case one does come to ground.
Two years ago none did. Last year only one did and here she is:

This big female came down in 2015.....quite a handful!

It is usually the heavier females that find it hard to maintain height on their first flights and end up on the ground, from which they can't get airborne again.
So, if you actually see a juvenile take to the air, please leave a comment on the blog. If you can see only three or fewer, keep watching because they may reappear from their hiding places!
Every year we expect to get many false alarms.....and I'm sure this year will be no exception.
As soon as we get news of one of the juveniles really fledging, we'll post the news here.
Latest video
Wendy Bartter has kindly sent this speeded up video made today of the youngsters, for which, many thanks Wendy. (I see a grand prix was taking place on the streets below!)
Nick B (DWT)

Report on Watch Point 11th June:
After a fairly uneventful start yesterday's watch point proved to be quite exciting with lots of action from both the juvenile and adult birds throughout the latter part of the morning and early afternoon. The young birds could be seen vigorously flapping their wings, and peering over the edge of the platform. The white downy feathers that were present last week are now almost completely gone and their beautiful juvenile plumage could be clearly seen through the telescopes. On numerous occasions at least one of the juveniles spent time perched confidently on the edge of the platform.

Part way through the morning a small flock of around four or five gulls (possibly lesser black backed gulls) drifted overhead causing the juveniles to set up an alarm call, and bringing the female quickly back to the tower. Despite being smaller than the gulls she put up quite a fight, immediately flying straight towards one of them of and bringing her talons in to contact with it. The gull was almost brought down but fortunately it managed to make a lucky escape. Quite a sight right above the watch point! 
The male bird arrived later on and after sitting on the tower for a while he treated us to some great fly pasts. A possible third peregrine was also spotted high above in the clouds. Both adult birds again provided us with lovely views whilst perched on the nearby hotel lettering. Helen Naylor. Watch Point volunteer.


Karen B said...

Thanks Nick, love the pics - I remember that young female from last year who landed on the ground.
Yes lets hope fledging goes well, they look about ready to go. I will miss them and chatting to you all. It has been yet again a great insight into the lives of these magnificent raptors.
Will be watching in anticipation!!

Karen B said...

Morning , all four on scrape ! Not sure they will fledge in the dizzle and weather looks awful today lots of rain etc
Will try to check in during the day. Fingers crossed.
Wendy will be on stand by no doubt !! If I miss anything.

Heather said...

Thanks Nick for latest update. Like Karen I remember the female from last year and the look on its face in the pic. (not to mention those talons), was enough to deter anyone from attempting a rescue!

Unfortunate that we were unable to ring the chicks this year but fully understand that it all depends on our band of volunteers. Of course as a consequence we don't know the sex of our birds. We all seemed to think it was 3 females and 1 male but very difficult to be sure as at far end of scrape they appear small but nearer camera the illusion is altered. Also one was small perhaps due to being the last to hatch, but if we have 3 females let's hope they're not too heavy for their maiden (!) flight.

Very disappointing that contributions to the project are so low and hope that The Falcons cricket team, and others, will reconsider this year and help save this important project.

Hazel M said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Project Team said...

Hi Hazel: please email us using and we will reply to your several questions in detail and explain why your comment has been moderated.
Best wishes
The project team

Hazel M said...

Um, okay. Odd and rather rude and abrupt way to encourage conributions and volunteers. I didn't say anything remotely untoward. I shan't bother with this project anymore and I won't be donating funds anymore either.

The Project Team said...

Hazel - we understand entirely how you feel and are very sorry but do please email us and we will endeavour to explain...and we do have an explanation.
The Project Team

Lesley Gerrard said...

Has one gone? Surely not in this weather? Probably hiding in the corner.

kate said...

Hi lesley
still there a pic on flkr of the three at one end and a recent showing all four.

Karen B said...

Hi, just checked on the Derby four.. all appears well some activity going on. Horrid day so glad they are all still there.
They have grown up so fast, cannot believe it is nearly over.