At around 07:50 on 5 June in driving rain PW lunged towards the front of the nest box exercising her wings but mistimed her braking and to all intents and purposes fledged at 37 days old. Captured here through a very wet camera lens:
Ratcliffe tells us that that peregrines will fledge at between 40 to 46 days depending on area, sex and a number of other factors, but we have had a chick successfully fledge (OK, fall) at Bath at 35 days, and GA (now of Norwich fame) stayed in the nest far longer than was good for her; at one point we thought she had expired.
When PW came out of the nest the system went into overdrive and the immediate and wider surrounding areas were searched, but to no avail. We are hoping that like GA’s brother GB, she is holed up somewhere nearby, that the falcon is aware of her location and is supplying her with food. GB took just over three days to return so all we can do is let that play out, but keep looking in case she is moving around. If she’s clearly safe there will be no justification for intervention.
While we were searching for PW, at around 11:10 I witnessed PX leave the box. I believe her ‘fledging’ was collateral damage as a result of the falcon flying past with food to temp PZ, pretty much of fledging age, from the box. PX was following the falcon in her flypast, flapping her wings and quite simply, threw herself at the scenery. I watched her fly strongly, pursued by tiercel AA, and disappear from view amongst the buildings surrounding the church.
It has to be said that once again, KP has played a part in this. During the morning we once again witnessed him stealing food from the adults as it was heading for the chicks in the nest box, taking it for himself. So the chicks had not been fed for some hours and were pretty hungry. On two occasions KP was pursued by both the adult tiercel and the falcon, and after that we found a number of feathers on the ground, one of which was identified as a juvenile peregrine secondary. He appears to be living a charmed life……
Following the ‘cloud’ of gulls we soon pinpointed PX on a low roof, near a main road being strafed and hit regularly by fast moving gulls. Normally we would leave a fledged chick where it landed if it was safe and the parents were aware of its location. However, on this occasion for the most part PX was sitting in an overflowing roof gutter (rain was horizontal at this point), was hidden from view of the adults on the church but was occasionally attempting unsuccessfully to climb the roof which only served to wind the gulls up further:
Unfortunately, the gutter was approximately ten feet above ground level and PX was doing a sterling job of not falling to ground. One member of our team is a fire-fighter with Avon Fire and Rescue Service and is trained and experienced in animal rescue. He put in a call to the Bath station, and it was deemed that assisting with the rescue of a protected bird in danger fell into their area of responsibility, particularly as PX looked all out on energy reserves and as if she was about to fly into the busy road. Within minutes, Blue Watch turned up and we worked out a strategy for convincing PX she should come off of the roof. Within a few more minutes PX was in my hands and being checked out. Nothing was broken, and everything appeared to be in working order so, after a quick chat with the St John’s Parish Administrator, PX was released through an open window onto a high flat roof within sight of the nest box. After about 30 minutes she had started exploring her new roost and was taking in the view, apparently none the worse for her experience: