We have recently observed the peregrine chick becoming increasingly mobile and growing in confidence, spending more time out of the nest tray and on the building ledge. Being out of view of the camera clearly causes some concerns for viewers when they don’t spot it shuffle out of sight – and we feared the worst ourselves on Tuesday evening, after logging into the webcam on our return to the office to see an empty nest box.
The chick is also growing in stature, through the development of leg muscles and ligaments, allowing it to start walking on its feet instead of its haunches. Growth of pin feathers on the wing edges and body are sure signs of a developing healthy raptor, which is becoming more inquisitive with its surroundings each day. In the coming weeks we will witness wing stretching, flapping and small hops of flight to further develop the body muscles and bone structure required to assist with the rigours of raptor flight.
Obviously this is occurring up and down the country as broods begin to fledge, leave the nest and start their challenging lives within our cities and countryside. A recent blog has mentioned how important bird ringing is to allow us to study the life cycles and distribution of many avian species.
At NTU’s Brackenhurst campus, staff and students, along with the South Notts Ringing Group (SNRG) ring birds on the estate through the winter months and chicks during the nesting season. The SNRG encourages students to become involved in bird ringing through taster sessions during the winter, while providing vital information and results to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) which will often be used in student studies.
Last week the SNRG was on site checking owl boxes once again, only to find one now being occupied by a female kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and five chicks. It was found in the same box previously used by the tawny owl mentioned in an earlier blog. We also came across a little owl (Athene noctua) nest with two chicks in a tree.
The SNRG’s records show the kestrel to be two years old, having been previously ringed about half a mile away, on the estate, in February last year. Without ringing, this information would have been unknown.
Brackenhurst, home to the university’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Studies, provides an ideal setting for the study of wildlife, environmental conservation, agriculture and horticulture-based courses. For more information visit www.ntu.ac.uk/ares
Simon Taylor & Gemma Clark
Field & Environment Technicians
NTU’s Brackenhurst campus