Adult Peregrine Leaving Nest
The adult male peregrine falcon leaves the nest after handing over care of the eggs to his mate.
I must have taken thousands of pictures of these two adult peregrines over the last three years, but I think this is my favourite image. I was supposed to be at work, but I had taken a couple of hours out of my working day to drive up to the cathedral from the university to watch the birds.
The male had sat on the edge of the nest scrape for most of this time, having the odd scratch, but never really looking like he was going to fly off. He was guarding the eggs from predators whilst his mate was off hunting and stretching her wings. The female (the falcon) usually takes the lion's share of the egg incubation duties. The male's (the tiercel's) job is to hunt and catch prey to bring her to keep her strength up and to relieve her when she needs to get away from egg rearing duties.
He was clearly getting impatient for her return and I was getting sore arms holding my camera and long lens up to try and catch any action. Fortunately, I had parked my car in the perfect spot and was able to rest my lens on my rolled up jacket on the roof of the car. Excited screeching heralded the return of the falcon to the nest and she quickly stuck her head in to check that all was well. The tiercel took his chance and launched off his perch. I managed to capture a series of five images as he flew off. This is the best of those.
The video shows the scene a couple of week's later as the chicks are growing rapidly and quickly shedding their white down for their first set of flight feathers. Dad has brought back a tasty pigeon and he is tearing off morsels of prey to give them.
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