Friday, 11 November 2016

Friday 11th. November 2016

Earlier this year , a chance meeting with a fellow enthusiast , culminated in a phone call asking if I was interested in a Peregrine Falcon nest with young . Within a couple of days and being sworn to secrecy re. the site of the nest , we made the journey to a natural hide , perched on the top of a disused quarry . Carefully getting into position and looking some 60/70 metres across and 10 metres down , I got my first view of the
ledge , and on it , two small , white , balls of fluff being fed by the female bird . Apparently , three eggs were laid and hatched , but the runt of the brood had already disappeared during the first few days . The two remaining chicks were left on their own for long periods of time , and the strong sunshine beating down on
the ledge , and with no shade at all , spent the time trying to get in the shadow of the other one , or panting in an attempt to cool themselves down . The female would come back and check on them every now and again
not always bringing food . Once she knew all was well , she would perch on a spot above the ledge , and
 from there , give reassuring soft calls to the two youngsters .
They grew quickly and on the next visit found that the feathers were starting to show through the white down . We didn't realise it at the time , but the male chick , although slightly smaller , was the more dominant of the
pair , always getting fed first and giving the female chick a hard time on the ledge . It was about this time when I got my only sighting of the full family , the female feeding again , whilst the smaller male flew in and sat
watching from the edge of the ledge , and keeping an eye out for any trouble .
The male dominance continued , here , in the heat of the day , he forced himself between the back wall of the ledge and the female bird to get out of the sun , whilst she panted to try and keep cool .
Here , the smaller but more advanced male on the left , tried the same move on the female , but this time it didn't work , and both had to put up with the heat ,
but when cloud blotted out the sun , the male spent much of the time exercising , whilst the female still had several patches of down still in place . I had a feeling that the male would have fledged by the time I visited
again , and sure enough , only the female was on the ledge when I made that visit , though I could hear the male constantly calling to be fed at the far end of the quarry .
It was obvious then why the male had dominated and fledged first , as the female was almost as big as it's
mother , but still wanted to be fed . In between feeds , it was exercising the wings for the female too , and it
was obvious that she would fledge very soon .
This was one of the last shots I took , and within a day or so , she joined her sibling , no longer a prisoner on the ledge , but able to fly and find shade from the sun .