While sorting through previous years’ notebooks to find a suitably tidy set of entries to send to Chris and Sue, I looked up last year’s post-fledging sightings around the box and found that there was a certain similarity up until mid-December.
The fledglings were Tumbler, Walga (females) and Tardy (male, always last to do anything, but actually first to leave). They fledged mid-November (16-18th, days 39-41). The pattern was similar to last year, after a week or so of chaos and missing birds, all 3 juveniles assembled in the ‘park’ opposite the roost with the parents by 25th November. After a week or so they then moved to the large dead tree on the farm, a few hundred metres away (the same one as this year). The birds were seen frequently in and around the campus. On 15th December juvenile female arrived in the box on 15th December and stayed for a few hours.
Both male and female restarted to prepare the scrape in December, although not with much vigour. Prey was occasionally stashed in the box.
On 5th January, a juvenile tried to land in the box, but Diamond chased it off. And you might be interested to know that I was still getting records of juvenile flypasts (once or twice weekly) until 13th February. The adult would pursue it, or vice versa.
In previous years I’ve also noticed that juveniles are here for 6-8 weeks after fledging, so, it is disappointing to have so few sightings of our trio this year. I’ve looked for them almost daily without any luck after such a short post-fledging period (3-4 weeks) and my spies around campus have also come up with nothing. There was a rainstorm the night before they ‘disappeared’ but I really don’t think that would have been a major problem (and not for all three at once). Anyway, I haven’t given up on finding them and will let you know as soon as do. But I’ll be away 5-15 Jan, so there’ll be fewer updates from now on.
Anyway, our couple live on doing all the normal peregrine couple things, with little prey coming into the box now, although both arrive with red tootsies or chest, obvious signs of recent kills.
Sometimes Diamond has been absent at night, or arrived very late (eg at one in the morning) and last night at 9.30 pm, suggesting gently to Xavier that he vacates the premises. They must be able to see and fly well in the pitch dark. I’ve read that they occasionally hunt at night, but I don’t have any evidence of that with our birds.
All the best for Christmas and the New Year and thanks for all your very interesting comments over the breeding season.