Saturday, 30 July 2011


A quick post to share a succession of photos I took this morning of #1.

Even at this age, they have perfected the Falcon Stare.
The Falcon Stare

Nothing beats a good stretch...

#1 stretches

#1 stretches

#1 stretches

#1 stretches

#1 stretches

#1 stretches

#1 stretches

Of the things that tell me it was #1 is the feather(s) at the centre of the tail, which look like a dark line when it flies, and also the lighter line above its eye.

Monday, 25 July 2011

On a sunny Sunday afternoon

The weather lately had not been great and had prevented me from doing longish sessions watching the family, so I settled on Sunday afternoon in the hope of some action.
I initially only found juveniles #2 and #3 perched and not doing much apart from some preening.  Then I noticed a peregrine coming round the building with prey in its talons and could see when I got my binoculars on it that it was one of the adults. It turned out to be the adult female, Charlie, with a Moorhen. Moorhens are not quite as much a favourite as the Parakeets are (apart from pigeons obviously) but do figure quite a bit on the menu of this pair.

Mum arrives with a Moorhen

Not really any doubt, is there?

I heard screaming and noticed #3 had left her perch:

#3 arrives screaming

and proceeded to steal Mum's prey from her:

Mum, I want this!

Mum, I will have this!


(a poor attempt at digiscoping, but still, pretty clear as to the prey ID).

She then started to eat it:
Err... what do I do with this now?

but, after about 5 minutes, managed to drop it... She immediately dived after it, caught it around the 5th floor and took it to the roof of a smaller building nearby. Then the Crows and Magpies noticed her and started congregating in a tree which was just overlooking that building and for a few minutes I feared the worst. But, no, after a few minutes, the Crows and Magpies got bored and left one by one, preferring chasing each other instead. Phew... I couldn't see her eat the prey while on that roof, but from the plume of feathers and down coming over I have no doubt she was busy on it.
A little while later, #1 completed the trio, and started food-begging, relentlessly, totally ignored by Dad above.

Lastly, I have been meaning to mention this on the last few posts but realised every time afterwards that I had missed it.  On the day after we had rescued the second juvenile, I was at the Wetland Centre to record their second podcast. As I had not expected fledging to happen until after the podcast, I had actually wondered if it was really worth it... More fool me!  On the podcast, as well as the peregrines drama, you can also hear about the wildlife at the Centre, in particular the sand martins, as well as a nature film maker on how he started filming wildlife
You can listen to it on the Wetland Centre's website or iTunes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Happy birthday!

Just a quick post to say it was only 2 months ago today that 2 of the juveniles hatched and looked like this:

11:48 first feed

Now, at least one of them is as big as Mum: #3. I do see a lot of Charlie in her, it's a feeling quite difficult to explain, especially as juvenile plumage is quite different to the adult one, but I just do...

The juveniles have now been properly flying for about 2 weeks but there are still the occasional mishaps. For example this evening, #1 dived after a pigeon almost to the ground and found it really hard to gain height again, probably because there was little wind. She did 2 of the things I thought juveniles might do at this site in this situation and managed to get back up in 3 stages, first landing about a third of the way up, then having a breather two thirds up. The last third was made easier by Mum bringing some food ;) which her sister promptly appropriated for herself.

Once again, I didn't see #2 this evening. I am considering calling him Wally as I am playing this "where's Wally?" game a lot as far as he is concerned. I didn't find him for 2 days last week whereas his 2 sisters were not that hard to find most of the time.

Tomorrow evening will be the third one's birthday, hopefully I'll get to see the 3 of them at some point...

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Fledge report

My apologies for the lack of report here since 28th June as I was spending a great deal of my time out there monitoring the family. I was however doing regular updates on twitter and facebook.
I am very happy to report that we have had no more major drama, only one juvenile who ended up in a spot where it shouldn't have and had to be given a helping hand to get out of.
At the time of last posting, the 3rd juvenile had almost made it to the top and the other 2 were still on the level where they had been released. That evening, I found these 2 at a slightly lower level and the next morning, one of them, I think the young male, had joined it and they stayed there together for the next day or so while the other one was already seen flying and landing usually pretty well. Some of those landings were not perfect though, in particular all the attempts I saw when it was trying to join its siblings were unsuccessful.
At last, on 30th June, for the first time after 7 days, all 3 were reunited on the same level, the one where the first 2 had been released.

Mum feeds the juveniles as the sun is rising

The next day, people were coming to see the family and at first the juveniles were pretty elusive. When they go into the 'pancake' position to sleep, they can be pretty hard to spot... But, finally, we managed to find all 3 together, and just as they were about to leave, 2 of them took to the air, immediately accompanied by the parents. Landings were still cautious, but good, it was very nice to see.

Over the following week, all 3 juveniles have been gaining in confidence, both in their flying ability and in their landings.  I have seen them play tag with each other, then take food parcels from their parents. This morning I even witnessed 1 of them go and snatch part of a prey which the male had thought he could keep to himself by bringing it to his perch, which up to now had been pretty much out of reach for the youngsters.  After all, it had worked the day before when he brought a starling.  But not with this one, it was a bit of a fight but the youngster got it in the end and went to eat it on the nest ledge. The prey was another parakeet btw...

This was the same juvenile I saw a few days before dive bomb from the nest ledge to a fairly low level where I lost it behind roofs to find it behind me on a discovery tour of the neighbourhood.  This one is fairly easy to recognise because the top of its head is much lighter than its siblings (one of the others' head is very dark in comparison) with lighter lines above the eyes and I do think it is the first one rescued, the feisty female. It certainly fits with the character it is exhibiting now.

The weather was pretty dry for a while and the puddle on the nest ledge had dried out.  Almost immediately after we'd had some rain and the puddle had reformed, 2 of the juveniles took turn to go and have a bath :) Since them, I have seen at least one of them do the same every day, they pop back up on the side of the nest ledge with their feathers slightly wet and preen for a while. Luxury accommodation indeed, with private en suite bathroom ;)

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Accidental fledge

Yesterday, 9:25:13 the third juvenile was sitting and preening on the wall in front of the nestbox:

Day 40, juvenile is sitting on ledge

Day 40, juvenile is preening on ledge

9:25:26 - Mum arrives with a pigeon:

Day 40, Mum arrives

9:25:27 - this spooks the juvenile who flies off:

Day 40, Mum arrives with a pigeon, the juvenile is spooked and flies off

9:25:28 - the juvenile has fledged, thanks Mum!

Day 40, the juvenile has fledged, accidentally, thanks Mum!

Mum then just looked on then dropped below with the pigeon before getting back on the wall and start eating. I unfortunately narrowly missed it live, it's only after not seeing the juvenile for a while that I checked the recording. Seeing how unconcerned Mum was gave me an indication that the juvenile was fine and I managed to find it pretty quickly and it looked indeed fine. It also was at a level not that much lower than the ledge, way higher than its brother, due to the fact that it was a lot more ready.

I saw it briefly today at 4:30 and then didn't locate it until just before the thunderstorm, almost all the way to the top, which was great to see. I wasn't sure though until after the thunderstorm when I managed to see the whole family at the same time.

the chicks and water

This is the start of the post I was writing last week when the drama started, I thought I should at least publish that part, with a small addendum.

They've been growing so fast I have found it quite hard to follow on this blog, my apologies. I hope most of you kept up to date with the photos I posted daily to the flickr alhum and the twitter updates, and now with the facebook page. In retrospect, I probably should have started the facebook page from the word go... I can hardly believe that one or more might have taken its first flight in 7 days time...

My last proper blog post related to Day 23, we are now on Day 36. What I thought was exceptional then has been repeated time and time again by 2 of the chicks (though I can't be sure it is always the same 2, but there always seems to be one a bit more wary of the water). Prior to this, we had been talking of ways of preventing standing water on the nest ledge for future nesting seasons, but I am now not so sure that it is desirable to get rid of it totally...

Day 29, having a bath

On Day 29
Day 31, 2 chicks in the water

On Day 31
Day 32, exercising in water

On Day 32
Day 35, having fun in the water again

On Day 35

You get the picture...

When it got so hot on Sunday, the remaining juvenile took to sit in the water for short periods, I presume to cool down:
Day 39, cooling down in the pool

Monday, 27 June 2011

Day 38, the second juvenile rescue

The second juvenile has been found and brought up to the roof where it has joined its sibling.

First, I also took a few photos with Dave's camera of the first one which he has kindly sent over and I thought I should share them with you first:

Day 36, grounded juvenile

The young female after Dave removed the box which had been put over her (to contain her but also to minimise stress) wasn't going to get caught without a fight, but Dave has the technique and he had her in hand in no time

Day 36, grounded juvenile is being 'hypnotised'

Day 36, thorough check-up

Once on the roof and out of the box, she wasn't to wait for no camera, she was out of there like a Jack-in-the-box!

Day 36, out of here, waiting for no camera

Now, to the second one. The immediate ground area had been checked on Thursday evening and Security had promised they'd keep an eye on their rounds, so on Friday I went up and down the building looking for vantage points to check all nearby lower roofs, the only result being that we knew where it wasn't but still not more enlightened as to its whereabouts.

On Saturday morning, as previous one, I saw the parents feed the one on the roof, the one on the ledge, then have a rest, so they were not feeding the other one locally. However, one of them could be gone for long periods so it was still possible that they were feeding it some distance away. I had called the local vets and no bird of that description had been reported or brought in. There was hope.

I had enlisted the help of Louis and he was updating me on what he had seen when the female suddenly started flying in circles in front of the building, a fairly typical behaviour when trying to entice a youngster to fly away. Louis rushed on his bicycle to see if he could spot the juv but had no luck. I similarly had no luck for the following hours.

I was updating Dave when we received a call from Security, the juvenile had just been reported. I immediately went to check it. It unfortunately was under windows and by now more people were massing to have a look at it and it was getting stressed, trying to fly into the wall rather than the outside. I also enquired if anyone had seen him being fed and no one had done, which fitted with my observations. We then decided with Dave that the course of action was to catch him and release him in the same place as his sister.

While waiting for Dave to arrive, I kept an eye on the juvenile though it was really hard to see even knowing where it was. I also phoned TOH to let him know I wouldn't be home to cook dinner and to order a pizza. After Dave arrived, we were escorted where the bird was, Security had been efficient and had already brought the box. Dave caught the juv, confirmed it looked in good shape and we started the trek up to the roof again. As I passed the box up to Dave on the ladder, I could feel the juvenile 'fight' inside the box and was glad I had chosen a pretty solid box.

Once out of the box, the little one didn't want to let go of the glove.

Day 38, the little one won't let go of the glove

Dave had to work his magic:

Day 38, trying to get the little one to let go of the glove

Day 38, trying to get the little one to let go of the glove

Day 38, the little one won't let go of the glove

Unlike his sister, he didn't move once freed, just staring at us:

Day 38, rescued juvenile has finally let go of the glove

As it happens, his sister was in the far corner, looking at us:
Day 38, his sister is looking at us from the corner

By the time we were out of the building, said our goodbyes, he had joined his sister in the corner :) I watched them for a few minutes and went home to eat that pizza, it was most welcome :)

You can also read Dave's account of the rescues, as well as that of another one elsewhere on his blog or his Parliament Peregrines blog.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Day 36, juvenile rescue

I was in the middle of writing a post about the chicks' development this afternoon when I received a phone call: "one of the chicks is in our courtyard". We were in the middle of preparing for fledging which I thought would not come until next week so this was taking us a little bit by surprise.

Reviewing the recording, at 14:09, the chick went to the right hand side of the ledge and leapt over the parapet. The courtyard where it was found was on the other side of the ledge so it must have managed some flying. The workers who found it managed to put a box over it and we waited for Dave to come over to check it and release it to the roof.

By the time Dave arrived, we had realised that a second chick had left, in exactly the same way, at 15:31. It has been looked for but not found yet.

Day 36, juvenile in a box

Dave got the box off the chick and gave it a good inspection. Verdict: a female, in good condition, but looking like 2/3 days from fledging. Very feisty and very strong, she didn't want to let go of the gloves when Dave put her in the box...

Day 36, Dave gives the juvenile the once over

Day 36, Dave gives the juvenile the once over

Day 36, Dave gives the juvenile the once over

Day 36, Dave gives the juvenile the once over

Day 36, Dave gives the juvenile the once over

As you can see, feathers fully developed, but still a bit of down at the base of the tail.
We brought her up all the way to the roof, above the nest ledge and quickly left.

Day 36, the juvenile is on the roof, out of the box

She quickly jumped onto that wall on her left and must have followed it around the building as I found her (at least I think it's her) above her parents a while later.

As I am typing this, the third chick is asleep in the nestbox, it must be feeling lonely...

Thursday, 16 June 2011

4 weeks old!

I can't believe the chicks are 4 weeks old and they have grown up so much since the 3rd week!
I couldn't find a shot with a chick in quite the right place, but I think the shot I chose in the end illustrate how much the wing feathers have come in just 7 days:

Comparison shot: the chicks at hatching and at 1,2,3 and 4 weeks old

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Day 23: aquatic adventures

Towards the end of the morning, Dad came to feed the chicks, though he looks a bit daunted by the prospect in this shot:

Day 23, Dad looks a bit daunted by its chicks

Day 23, Dad is feeding the young while Mum watches

Then, one chick started wandering:

Day 23, 1 youngster goes exploring

Then another:

Day 23, exploring fun

What they didn't realise was that it was going to rain, and quite hard, and they took refuge in a corner to shelter from the rain:

Day 23, it's wet out there, we're staying in the corner

Photo by Dave Morrison

One of the chicks braved the rain and came back to the nestbox about half an hour later, looking a bit bedraggled:
Day 23, a young explorer looking a bit wet...

2pm, and the second chick was still in the corner, but enjoying a spell of sunshine:

Day 23, young flat on ground in sunshine

It took food to finally drag it back to the box:

Day 23, food? shall I come back?

However, as soon as this one was back, another one decided to go and have fun in the puddle:

Day 23, having fun in the water

Day 23, having fun in the water

Day 23, having fun in the water

Day 23, having fun in the water

Day 23, having fun in the water

Day 23, having fun in the water

After 10 minutes, it decided to come and join Mum and the others back in the box, and made a rather undignified re-entry:

Day 23, undignified return

Anyone else seen this kind of behaviour before?