Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Introducing Will the Eyas and a visit to the London Wetland Centre

I've known for a little while what I was to be doing this morning, and all that time I was excited. Yet when it actually came to my 'big' moment, I had a mini-meltdown !!!
The plan was the solo Fulham and Barnes Peregrine eyas (chick) was to be ringed. The BTO ringer, Phil, was allowed two people under his licence, to accompany him up to the area just above the nest ledge. Nathalie (the peregrines 'godmother') kindly asked if I'd like to join her. Naturally I jumped at the chance, for me this was to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. So today was meant to be the day.
It all started well. I felt a little nauseus first thing but put that down to one of the 'sympathy symptoms' I've been experiencing due to Mums chemo side effects.
As soon as I reached the hospital where the peregrines nest, I found Tom (daddy peregrine, the tiercel) on the nest ledge with Charlie (mummy peregrine, the falcon) perched nearby. Charlie laid three eggs this year, one got broken, one never hatched but one did. Phil was on site today to ring the one remaining eyas and remove the unhatched egg (to be sent away for analysis). Just before Nathalie met me in the cemetery at the back of the hospital, Tom flew round to join Charlie on an adjoining perch.
Phil arrived soon after and we made our way to the 15th floor, armed with a ladder and Phils bag of kit to abseil down to the nest ledge. Nathalie and I were to stay on the ridge above the nest ledge and record the ringing by video and camera.
So far, so good. I was still excited and feeling great. Nathalie left to take up her position to the right of the nest box, and I waited as Phil kitted himself out, put up the ladder and started to hoist himself over the lip of the ridge. Then I started feeling queasy. Just watching Phil go over made me feel sick. It was my turn to go up the ladder. Nathalie was already in position up to my side. I got both feet on the first rung of the seven foot long ladder, got another foot on the second rung, and froze. I only had another five rungs to go and to then lean over the ridge lip and look down, but my blood drained, my legs started trembling, my arms started shaking, my heart was crashing against my ribcage and I felt as if I was going to faint. After a few more seconds of this, I knew I wasn't going to be able to do it. I indicated to Nathalie that I couldn't go through with it and hastily made my way back inside the building, found the first place I could to sit down and put my head between my knees. I had failed myself. A once in a lifetime opportunity and I couldn't go through with it.
I am absolutely gutted. I even had a bit of a cry when I eventually got home this evening. Last summer I ended up on the roof of the nearby Harper Collins building looking for one of last years fledged eyas who had gone missing. I didn't experience any fear at all. So why was I overcome with fear today ? Was it a panic attack ? Was I genuinely not well ? Was it one of my 'sympathy symptoms' for Mum ?
Anyway I can beat myself up about this for many years to come, but I cannot change what happened. Further down my blog is Nathalie's brilliant video footage of the eyas being ringed and three of her fantastic photos. But first a few of my distant shots from the safety of the ground.
Toms head just visible on the left near the corner of the ledge. If I had managed my mission today, I would have been peering over the ridge not far from the satellite dish.
Tom flying around to join Charlie
Tom on the left, Charlie on the right. This was taken just after Tom had landed, they're greeting each other.

This was after the eyas was ringed. Charlie had settled on one of the balconys and was watching Tom flying and calling overhead.

The link below is to Nathalie's video clip of Phil and the eyas........

And below are Nathalie's brilliant photos taken from her vantage point just above the nest ledge, of Charlie before and after the eyas was ringed (showing her own ring 'green 19') and one of Phil holding the eyas.
photo by Nathalie Mahieu
photo by Nathalie Mahieu
photo by Nathalie Mahieu
It was really lovely to see Nathalie again, and to meet Phil, but I feel I've let them both down as well as myself. So thank you so much for the invitation Nathalie, just so sorry I couldn't perform my mission.
 Even on the way to the London Wetland Centre I still felt very shaky, and if it wasn't for the fact I was meeting my two dear friends, John and Therese, I would have probably gone home.
But I didn't and after a cuppa and chat with John and Therese, I felt a little better. And thank you to both of them for letting me ramble on. After they left I had a wander around.
record shot of Reed Warbler
Common Lizard
Common Lizards
mating Azure Damselflies
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Little Grebe
Marsh Frog
On my last visit to the London Wetland Centre (on the 14th April) I'd seen a very pale looking Moorhen youngster. It was still there today and I was able to grab a photo of it with one of its normal coloured siblings.
Parakeet in the courtyard
I was just about to head home when out of the corner of my eye I saw a Wren acting oddly. Watching it for a while I realised it was taking food into its nest. I'm not going to say where the nest is, as its very accessible and therefore quite vulnerable. I took this one shot from quite some distance away and have heavily cropped it.
So that's the story of my sad day today. It really could have been better, and I'll be kicking myself about it for years to come.
But many thanks to Nathalie, Phil, John and Therese for cheering me up.
P.S - the eyas ring number is 'yellow A6' and he weighed in at 740 grams. Sexing an eyas is mainly based on the weight of the juvenile (females are considerably larger than males and weigh around 900g at this age - 27 days old). As 'A6' sounds like a road up north, Nathalie has decided to call the eyas 'Will'. Welcome Will. See you in a couple of weeks for Fledge Watch.

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