The daily lives of the famous Chichester Cathedral peregrines have been a source of fascination for the many people who have followed their progress on the webcam installed in the spire.
The male, affectionately known as Maverick, and his partner produced four eggs at the beginning of April and these hatched successfully during the ﬁrst week of May – now the chicks are reaching the next stage of their lives as they become ‘juveniles’. All have now fledged, taking to the skies above Chichester. As ringing was not possible this year, observation suggests that there are probably three males and one female.
The fledging process takes some time: first of all, they pop up into the castellations on the turret just to have a look at the big wide world. Sometimes they jump back into the turret very quickly and sometimes they sit and watch. Then they jump on top of the nest box or on top of the turret – at this point there is a lot of ﬂapping and looking around. There may be an adventurous juvenile who tries to ﬂy to the next turret – he or she may make it or may get halfway and come down on the castellations between two turrets. Sometimes they manage to ﬂy up to one of the pinnacles surrounding the spire. They do a lot of ﬂapping to give their wings strength and also a lot of head bobbing, which is the mechanism whereby they judge distance. Each year, and each juvenile, is diﬀerent and some may take to the air and ﬂy around the spire quite quickly and others may be reluctant to move from the nest turret. The adults will try and encourage them to ﬂy by ‘baiting’ them with food i.e. they will ﬂy past the juveniles with food, but not give it to them too quickly.
Normally, over the ﬁrst few days they will remain around the Cathedral all of the time, and may well go back into the nest box at night. Once they are all ﬂying well the parents will begin the process of teaching them how to feed themselves. Sometimes this occurs around the Cathedral and can be spectacular to watch but more often it is done away from home. Some years the family stay together and around the Cathedral for many weeks before Mum takes the juveniles oﬀ to ﬁnish their education. And finally, by September they will have left the building with Mum who will return after she is satisﬁed that her brood can look after themselves.
The image shows two of the juveniles, one of which is about to fly for the first time.
Photo: David Shaw Wildlife.