As all good stories start it was dark and stormy, but it was 9.30am rather than the night of Saturday the 7th of June when I met up with the entourage of 10 people that were going to attend the ringing of our peregrine chicks.
Ed Drewitt of the RSPB and Hamish Smith of the Hawk and Owl Trust were going to physically do the ringing, BBC Wiltshire were on hand to give a brilliant live commentary and local enthusiast Martin Bradley, who has written a children’s book called 'Top Gun of the Skies' about peregrines, and Rebecca Twigg from The Bees’ Knees UK, whose work is to encourage gardening for wildlife habitat regeneration, also made the climb with us.
By the time we got to the base of the spire at about 9.45am the rain had stopped, but the female was feeding the brood so we waited for the 15 minutes that took before I unlocked the padlock on the door leading out onto the parapet containing the nest box. Phil Sheldrake from the RSPB went out to put each chick into its own soft cotton bag and finally brought them all in. Ed and Hamish covered the first chick’s head so it didn’t get too distressed and started the ringing and measuring process.
The chicks got two rings each, one of which is so the birds can be identified from a distance, and their vital statistics were noted in a book. I had a bit of a shaky moment as the second one was also identified as being male as well as the first because despite naming them Pip, Peter and Paula I actually had no idea of their gender and had named one of the chicks after my wife Paula who was with me; I really didn’t want her to be disappointed. You’ll imagine my huge relief when the third chick was identified as female and I was lucky enough to be the only other person to be allowed to hold the chick.
Female peregrines are larger than the males and this is already the case with our chicks as she weighed in at 780 grammes, Pip is 640g and Peter is 630g. They are all also very healthy…and noisy.
There has been such interest in our brood that we now have some peregrine goods for sale in our shop so that people can take home their own little bit of our amazing success story; Martin Bradley’s book that I mentioned at the start of this update and some cards by Ruth Churchill.
There have been problems with the webcam technology that my colleagues have worked tirelessly to put right but the feed from the nest is now live - you can view pictures from the ringing here or watch the video here. There will be more updates to follow shortly.