Hoping for a happy ending

Under a watchful eye: one of the parents monitors the remaining chick

Under a watchful eye: one of the parents monitors the remaining chick

When I first heard the rain start again last Monday night my heart sank and I couldn’t stop thinking about the falcon family. What a difference a week had made – it has been hard to see the struggle that the family have gone through this year when we had the joy of seeing last year’s four chicks doing so well and fully fledging the nest site.

Having the opportunity to see just what nature throws at our wildlife and the challenges they face has been heart-breaking, yet at the same time it has shown us what survival means to this pair of experienced peregrine falcons. It has prompted a number of people to ask why nothing could be done to help the birds.

Aside from the laws protecting the falcons and the huge distress stepping in could cause them, humans don’t have the right to interfere with nature. It reminds me of when I watch nature documentaries, when there is an injured baby calf or a weak leopard cub struggling to keep up with mum and exposed to predators or the elements. As much as I want the presenters of the programme to run over and sweep the struggling animal to safety, I know in reality we don’t have the right to do so in many cases. Nature is something we need to respect and sometimes that means leaving it to its own devices, whether we like it or not.

It’s been hard to watch the parents get further onslaughts from the elements, although nowhere near as bad as we had last Sunday.

The remaining chick has had a good amount of food and both parents have been taking it in turns to feed and keep it warm, while letting the other seek cover, take a rest, dry out and catch some more food.  The determination of keeping this one chick alive seemed even more apparent when it appeared that the parents had a ‘tug of war’ over one catch, with Mr P fighting his corner, winning, and feeding the little chick as much as possible.

The journey with these amazing birds is still just at the beginning; let’s hope that with all their years’ experience as parents we have a happy ending. For now, we have one chick left that is looking stronger by the hour and mum and dad are working hard as a team to make sure that it gets the best possible chance.

Sarah Thorp
NTU Environment Office

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107 Responses to Hoping for a happy ending

  1. Stuart. Nottingham says:

    It is so good to see the one remaining Falcon chick gaining wieght and size, now able to move around the nest on its own, hopefully the weather will start to improve more toward the warmer side

    Like

  2. I have followed the life ,tragedy and deaths in the nest from the day the falcons returned…fascinating.!

    What happened to the bodies of the chicks that died…….they appeared to be included in the brood long after they died..?

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    • Stuart. Nottingham says:

      The parent birds removed the body’s a few days after death, there was an accumilation of flies which have since gone,

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      • Thank you Stuart….sorry I missed it,but we can’t spend all a time watching or we’d never get anything done.

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      • Ian Fretwell says:

        The male bird fed one to the remaining chick, and I think they other was eaten also, but the female took the third carcass away!

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  3. Sarah says:

    I agree entirely with Sarah.
    We are enormously privileged to be able to observe, but we are arrogant (as a species, no individuals targeted with that statement!) and too ready to think we know best.
    Sometimes, just for a moment, I find myself thinking we shouldn’t even be watching. It feels intrusive somehow.
    However, having checked in this morning after a few days absence and seen that huge fat beast of a chick looking better than ever I can only feel gratitude towards those who make observation possible, and respect for those magnificent birds.

    Like

  4. Sue says:

    Thank you to all at NTU/Wildlife trust for this amazing opportunity to see the drama of this family unfolding. We have been glued to the website for over a week now, watching and willing them on, and feeling both sad and hopeful at the different turn of events. Thank goodness things seem to be heading in the right direction and the personalities of all three birds bring a smile to our faces. The first question in the morning now is always “how are they doing?”. Well done to all involved.

    Like

  5. Steve says:

    A portrait of Little Jack Horner and Mum…… in the corner, where else? 🙂

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  6. It has indeed been a roller coaster! Although being upset at the demise of the three chicks it did mean the survivor has an improved chance of being successful – lets hope so. Many thanks for the opportunity to follow this. It has, however, taken more of my time than perhaps it should!

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  7. Rachel says:

    I watch the falcons whenever I can, I had a huge cry when I heard of the 3 little ones dying and thought about all the birds all round the country who are suffering in the same way. However, last night, I was finally watching at the right time to see both parents feeding the last little one, who looks great now, trying to feed itself! We are so lucky to have such an intimate insight into these amazing creatures’ lives! Now let’s all hope for some nicer weather for all of us!

    Like

  8. niceguynotts says:

    Really glad to see the remaining chick doing so well after the storms of a week or so ago. however Someone did raise a valid point last week on the subject of helping them in times of need. they said that us as humans don’t seem to mind interrupting nature when it comes to ripping down trees and habitat for building roads and trams etc but when it comes down to helping things like these chicks in some adverse weather they say they don’t want to interrupt mother nature….Well i do think its a valid point and something to think about if it happens again in the future. i believe that if it means the birds staying wild and not as a result of us interfering end up in some kind of captivity then a little help be it by a temporary shelter or chucking them a little food or anything else that may have helped would of been worth while. it is only because of human intrusion that they are on the endangered list after all.

    Like

    • Sarah S. says:

      I think they need to adapt and evolve to survive in their environment without human intervention, whether or not humans have affected that environment. If they learn to depend upon humans for survival what will happen if/when there is no human help at hand?

      Like

    • Anon says:

      they arent endangered?!

      Like

  9. Lesley Farnsworth says:

    It’s hard to watch nature at it’s most harshest sometimes; but this chick now is going to thrive , I’m sure with sole attention from parents. We are privileged to be given the chance to watch this family through both the good times, and the bad times unfortunately have to happen as well.

    Like

    • Belinda says:

      Did anyone just see the chick eat a whole pigeon foot in one go! Not good with technology so didn’t know how to do a screen grab – sorry!

      Like

      • Steve says:

        I arrived at my desk just as the foot was disappearing. I couldn’t believe the chick had actually swallowed it – I assumed it had dropped it. Print screen is the key to hit – then paste into Paint or your regular graphics app.

        Like

  10. Maurice says:

    I haven’t looked in for a few days, but am totally surprised how much this chick has grown since last week. He certainly seems to be getting plenty to eat and has quite a full crop at the moment 🙂

    Like

  11. Steve says:

    Now that the chick is growing fast, the parents are leaving him along for longer periods. He’s been chilling in his favorite corner for quite some time now but seems quite content…….

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  12. Steve says:

    Mr P (I’m pretty sure this time it IS Mr P) has brought a bird with a long beak like a woodcock or a snipe. Anyone know what it is?

    Like

  13. Maurice says:

    Just surprised to see one of the adults bring back, what looked like a snipe or woodcock. It certainly had a long bill. The chick was not that interested as I think it must have had a good feed already, so the adult took it away again!

    Like

  14. Lesley says:

    Oh my goodness what a huge appetite for such a small chick!
    What a beautiful chick and still so vulnerable, where has Mum gone, she has been gone for ages?
    Other birds of prey – STAY AWAY FROM OUR CHICK!!
    Stay strong and grow!

    Like

  15. redtedng9 says:

    I believe your comments and views in not interfering with mother nature are correct Sarah. At times I am sure we all questioned whether this was the correct way to go, as we could all see what was going to happen with the chicks. However, those weather conditions were very severe for this time of year, and to my knowledge we have not experienced things as bad as that before.
    The remaining chick is getting substantially more food than would otherwise have occurred, so lets hope the chick continues to go from strenght to strengh.
    Despite having watched these falcons for a number of years, I am still staggered to actually view these creatures in the middle of our city. If you are in town, do go for a walk past the theatre and glance up-they are truly superb.

    Like

  16. Phil says:

    Incredible cam. I am transfixed and many thanks go to the team keeping us informed as to what is happening.

    Like

  17. ann111@sky.com says:

    I feel so privileged to be able to see these wonderful birds going about their every day life. The team have done such a wonderful job, giving us a birds eye view of the lows and the highs this year. Our chick is just a joy to watch. Thank you team.

    Like

  18. julie907 says:

    Can we call this chick Jack… it loves its little corner 🙂

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  19. terry davies says:

    The chick is lookiing very well this morning.When do you ring & sex the chick?Also when will the chick be ready to try flight as I was on holiday last year & missed both events

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  20. Pat says:

    Thanks to all the team, we may be tough lorry drivers but we’ve all been fascinated by this and watched with dismay as the other chicks died. Such a joy for us all to see the charachter of the remaining one develop and watch him grow so strongly.

    Like

  21. Steve says:

    Our chik has just had pigeon brunch seved up by Mrs P. Boy is he well fed…. his paunch is bigger than my beer belly 🙂

    Like

  22. daddysgirl says:

    so nice to see the last chick looking so well 🙂 my dad sent me a lovely screen grab of it yesterday looking very chunkey

    Like

  23. Sue says:

    I hope it’s dry over in the corner where Unity’s standing … don’t want the little fella getting too wet & cold …

    Like

  24. Sonya says:

    It’s raining but the parent is sitting on the ledge and making no effort to shelter the chick, who is huddled in the corner, Perhaps the wind’s in the right direction and not blowing the rain into the nest?

    Like

  25. Stuart. Nottingham says:

    Is it me or has anyone else noticed that baby P seems to have started to loose its fluffy white downy feathers, I have watched him/her trying to get up on the ledge a few times and get more modile around the nest box
    These cams are great.. well done NTU team

    Like

  26. STEVE says:

    Ha ha little old unity is growing rapidly, just watched the last feed with that belly he is getting he will be lucky to ever get airborn.

    Like

    • justme says:

      I agree the little one has a massive stomach….the thought of it throwing itself of the ledge in flight seems fraught with disaster….needs to go to weightwatchers!!!

      Like

  27. PamUK says:

    Chick is developing well While parent took some food itself the chick grasped some morsels with its foot and proceeded to feed itself. It looked very disgruntled when the parent then grabbed the food and flew off. Chick retired to far corner. Seems to me the corners are the safest places for it to be while it is on its own, so it’s a canny little thing. A survivor for sure !

    Like

  28. Steve says:

    I think the corners are a surrogate for its deceased siblings 😦

    Like

  29. Love watching the chick stomping round the nest yelling his head off when the parents are away. I hope the rain forecast for tonight sees him ok in the morning – he seems to have difficulty sheltering under the parent now he’s so big!!

    Like

  30. Penny says:

    Oh dear, I do hope Mum comes back soon – it is teeming with rain, and although Dad is valiantly doing his best to shield Chick, he is not succeeding and Chick is getting rather wet and looks very fed up now.

    Like

    • Sal says:

      The female has been gone for hours..rain forecast for most of the night followed by a sunny morning so let’s hope they manage to keep dry

      Like

  31. Christine says:

    I have been watching now for weeks and like many others have been riding the ‘rollercoaster’ of events, I was very upset to see the three chicks perish and understand that we cannot interfere, I also understand that the parents have chosen to nest on the ledge for a few years now but maybe that is because nesting sites are few and far between now that there are more peregrines living around our city centres. As I stated in a previous blog I would be more than willing to put my money where my mouth is and pledge some money towards some kind of overhang or shelter for next year, surely if we provide a nesting site it ought to be up to scratch ?
    Many, many thanks to all the NTU team for making it possible to watch the events of the last few weeks, maybe we should ‘take heed’ of what we have seen, after all it is in our power to help. How about setting up an online pledge or somewhere that we can make donations ?? I would be one of the first
    Glad to see that GLORIA ( I WILL SURVIVE ) is doing so well

    Like

    • daventu says:

      Hi Christine – thank you for your comment and your kind words. We are very grateful for your suggestions and I will pass on to the necessary people at this end. We have had a number of suggestions for adaptations/improvements we could possibly make to the nest site and we will, as always, be reviewing all of these as part of our annual review of the nesting season.

      Like

      • Anne says:

        I also asked in a previous blog if funds are required & suggested a sponsorship page as for the BTO cuckoos. There must be many of us happy to contribute.
        Thanks again to NTU & NWT teams for giving us the enormous pleasure (& heartbreak) of watching these beautiful birds.

        Like

  32. alison stoker says:

    Baby is looking fit and well. Have just been watching it being fed by Dad. ……just one more spoonful….come on. It is so well fed it is starting to look like a spacehopper..lol Wonderful outcome after all of the sadness last week.

    Like

  33. anon says:

    OH dear,not just wet but getting cold the biggest killer,hope i,m wrong but it will be a miracle if the last chick is alive by morning if the rain continues as forecast and he doesn’t get covered by an adult.No bother we sat idle and watched 3 others die.

    Like

  34. ann111@sky.com says:

    Where is Mrs P ????/

    Like

    • SueAtt says:

      I last saw Mrs P at about 7.45pm – she fed baby then left when Mr P brought a much bigger piece of prey. He carried on feeding himself and baby, then left. He came back onto the ledge but only sat and watched and didn’t attempt to shelter the little one. Dragged myself away from computer for a while and now horrified to see that almost an hour later little P is still by himself huddled in his corner and Mr P not around now either – WHERE ARE THEY – this is not good! 😦

      Like

      • Sal says:

        Did you see both adults? I have only seen the male this afternoon/evening but wasn’t watching constantly

        Like

    • Lynda says:

      Both parents seem to have been gone for ages – poor, cold little chick, after all the upsets of recent weeks it would be awful if anything was to happen to him/her. By the way – great idea Christine – I would certainly be willing to contribute something, I have got so much out of watching this web cam – many thanks to all at the team for allowing us ‘in’.

      Like

  35. Steve says:

    Almost 9pm and Little Jack Horner is still alone in the corner. Mercifully, going by the dry right hand edge of the box, he should be dry and it is mild tonight. He’ll be needing his mum soon though…….

    Like

  36. Shirley Stirland says:

    8.55pm,poor little chick sat in rain by itself.where are the parents,is it okay for the chick to get soaked?

    Like

  37. SueAtt says:

    Oh thank goodness – Mrs P’s back! 🙂

    Like

  38. ann111@sky.com says:

    Mum is back now phew

    Like

  39. Christine says:

    The chick is now being sheltered, fear not, the parents know what they are doing, it must have enough fat reserves now to be able to be left for a while – don’t worry !!

    Like

  40. Steve says:

    Thursday 2am (there’s dedication for you) Mrs P nipped off for a break and Little Jack was very much alive and well and as vocal as ever. She was not gone long this time as was soon back sheltering the little one in his corner 🙂

    Like

  41. Kerry says:

    This site is taking over my life ….I cant stop watching and last night could not rest until Mrs P was back then heard the rain again this morning and thought oh no! but all is well Mum looks pretty dry….

    Like

  42. julie907 says:

    Has anyone seen Dad this morning, mum and chick still huddled in corner>? Just a bit concerned as I have seen no feed this AM x

    Like

  43. PamUK says:

    Chick has been fully stuffed with food once more and looks just fine !

    Like

  44. John says:

    Yes, a good feed from, I think, the male. Both parents now away, chick goes for a stomp around the nest, trying out his wings, and tapping a mean rhythm with his left foot. Now back in the corner.

    Like

  45. John says:

    One parent back, watching over the city from the ledge. Chick staring up at the sky, wondering what all that blue is.

    Like

  46. Katie says:

    I have seen alot of comments about the absense of the parents recently, but I remember last year the same thing happened, they begin to leave the chicks (well in this case chick) alone for longer periods, so they must know that the chick can manage alone for longer while they spend more time looking for food and taking care of themselves, I am guessing.

    Like

  47. Helen A-F says:

    I have seen Mum and Dad today and saw a feed earlier. The chick is looking very healthy and at one point, while left alone, found a morsel left in the nest and was pulling pieces off and eating them all by himself. He then gave his wings a bit of exercise and gave me a clear view of his flight feathers coming through. He is much more settled when he has left now and doesn’t cry like he was a few days ago.I just watched him chewing at his Mum’s tail feathers, while she had her back to him. He is one cheeky, no so little anymore, chick. So pelased for all involved at NTU and NWT that things are continuing to look good for this strong chick. Thank you again for the fantastic images you are bringing to us all. It’s addicitive and such a joy to share some moments with these wonderful birds.

    Like

  48. Penny says:

    On the subject of a possible name for ‘our’ chick I think Chunky might be very appropriate! He (she) has just eaten so much it is a wonder he can move, and his little crop looks fit to burst! So glad he is doing well, as last night’s rain did look a bit ominous when he was all on his own.

    Like

  49. Stuart. Nottingham says:

    Is there any way of telling the sex of Baby P .. Looking at the chart at the back of the nest box it looks like the chick is now about 50cm tall, this is amazing when you think a few weeks ago he/she was a small ball of white fluffy feathers, His/her Voice has improved also,
    It is so good to watch the chick hop around and stretch its wings and on occasion feed itself

    Like

    • Mark says:

      I think the scale across the bottom of the white board is 40 cm – the small divisions are 5cm.
      The chick is getting a lot more mobile – it shuffled all the way around its box earlier. Not quite as advanced as the Charing Cross peregrines, which have started to stand up and walk.

      Like

      • Stuart. Nottingham says:

        Thanks I did notice that I read the chart wrongly after posting, the cam was a little blured with the weather ( good excuse that ) my post should have read 15cm

        Like

  50. Agg says:

    The baby chick is so clumsy and wobbly and yet beautiful. Just like Stuart mentioned it has grown immensely! I really hope it continues to grow into a beautiful falcon!

    Like

  51. SueAtt says:

    Just watched Mr P giving little P an afternoon “snack” – little P now completely stuffed and shouting to dad not to force him/her to eat any more “otherwise this balloon on my chest will explode!” lol. I have also noticed that little P’s feet seem to have doubled in size over the past couple of days. Also thought of another name to add to the long list of suggestions – B.J. or Thomas (Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head).

    Like

  52. justme says:

    Baby P is really blossoming especially aroung its waistline, after yet another uneventful day of indigestion baby seems very content in its little world.

    Like

  53. John says:

    7.15 am. Breakfast time. Excellent panoramic shot of both parents further down the ledge, apparently chatting about the progress of their chick, who is calling noisily from the nest. One adult flies off with a kill, only to swoop back up seconds later, nearer the nest, to start feeding the youngster.

    Like

  54. malc says:

    chick is getting good meals but he`s got no competion from any other chicks mr and mrs p perhaps dont have to work quite so hard this year finding food, another fun name could be barry, after barry manilows song i made it through the rain lol

    Like

  55. Mo Cole says:

    I think ”Travis” followed by ”Jack” as in ”why does it always rain on me” and ”liittle jack horner” He is getting so big now maybe ”Billy” x

    Like

  56. Sarah S. says:

    Chick is sunbathing! Lovely to watch.

    Like

  57. Stuart. Nottingham says:

    I think the chick should be named after the man who has done so much to bring all of us these brilliant cam pics and the building where the nest is situated

    DAVENTU

    Like

    • daventu says:

      Ha thanks for kind words Stuart – not sure if it’ll ever catch on though unfortunately…

      I can only claim partial credit for this blog, I’m just part of a much wider team responsible for delivering the overall project!

      Like

  58. Keyworth Red says:

    2.50pm. Afternoon snack, all looking well 🙂

    Like

  59. John says:

    On his own, dozing contentedly in the corner, head resting on the plastic (?) pipe.

    Like

  60. Sue says:

    apologies if this has already been said somewhere on the blog – but do we think this chick is female – just look at the size of her feet!

    It is wonderful to see her doing so well.

    Thank you to everyone who has made this possible. It is a rare and wonderful privilege.

    Like

  61. Pat says:

    Change over of shift duties at 4.45am this morning, no breakfast yet though!

    Like

  62. Sonya says:

    The chick has just had a good preening session in the sunshine and is now having a lie down for a rest. Those new feathers must be irritating as they come through!

    Like

  63. Stuart. Nottingham says:

    I’m glued to the cams every day, I cant wait to watch little P take the first steps to flying

    Like

  64. Stuart. Nottingham says:

    The chicks flight and tail feathers are now starting to show through the fluffy white down.
    Has anyone noticed any distinguishing features between the Male and Female parents
    now both birds are not at the nest together so often I cant tell who is who

    Like

    • daventu says:

      Hi Stuart. Probably the best way to tell the male and female apart is by their size. The female is considerably larger than the male – as much as a third larger in fact. As well as being smaller overall, males birds tend to have a more slender look and females can often have bolder, more striking markings 🙂

      Like

      • Stuart. Nottingham says:

        Thank you Dave, when the parents were on the ledge together this morning it was clear which was which, but when they took it in turn to feed daventu ( I’m sticking to that name )
        it was not so easy to distinguish, I will have to look closer
        Thanks again for a great job by you and the team

        Like

    • barry havant says:

      the way i can tell who is who the female has a longer beak. i too watch every day

      Like

  65. Keyworth Red says:

    All looks well, just having tea at 6.30… 🙂

    Like

  66. Claire says:

    YYAAYYYY chick is tucking into brekky all by itself!!!

    Like

  67. Sonya says:

    This morning, Mum was preening herself and got a feather stuck on her beak. While she was occupied trying to remove it by rubbing her beak on the window ledge, the chick took the opportunity to play with her tail and flight feathers. It’s such a privilege to be able to watch such examples of behaviour that without the camera we would know nothing about.

    Like

  68. barry havant says:

    glad to see the back board has been screwed to the wall,i phoned some time ago to say it looked loose,i’m happy now

    Like

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