I have always tried to be a good mother.
I cannot compare, however, with
the mother I met today – Mrs Peregrine Falcon who is once again nesting among the lofty turrets of majestic Chichester Cathedral. There she sits, shuffling her four eggs gently beneath her feathered chest to ensure that they are all equally
warm and toasty, a picture of patience and motherly calm.
I’ve come to peep at Mrs Peregrine Falcon while I am in Chichester to attend my first training
session in connection with the Great War Project (I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow.) Anyone who has been reading my Daily Blog since the very earliest days may well remember the outing Mr B and I took last year to see the baby falcons. We went
by bus, it took us hours, and Mr B threatened to divorce me if I ever suggested we went by bus to Chichester again. Today, mindful of our previous experience, I took the train. I allowed myself plenty of time before I had to report for my training at
the County Archives Office so that I could eat lunch in the Cloisters Cafe and visit the RSPB stall in the Cathedral grounds.
It is the twelfth year
running that Mrs Peregrine Falcon has taken up her abode in the Cathedral in order to raise yet another brood. Over the twelve years she has laid 44 eggs and hatched 42 of them successfully. In the World of Birds, she is a Mother of Renown.
This year, however, there is a difference. Mrs Peregrine Falcon has a new mate, a Toy Boy, if you like. She has traded in her previous hubby for a newer, younger, more virile model.
Apparently there was much Falcon Warfare in the skies last Autumn, a battle for the supremacy of the air. Nobody quite knows what happened to the Father of the Falcon Four 2012 but Mrs P.F. appears to have decided to take up with a younger fella, possibly
(though this has not been conclusively proved)the victor of the afore-mentioned Falcon War (not to be confused with the Falklands War, of which much has been written and spoken over recent days.) Of course it could be that the release of 40 plus additional
falcons into the skies above West Sussex over the course of the last 12 years may have contributed to the battle.
I’m not convinced that the new pairing
is a love match. While I was watching the live “feed” from the nest, Toy Boy arrived back home, all preening feathers and proud of himself, clearly expecting to be welcomed back with open wings and allowed a bit of a rest before he set off again.
Mrs P.F. was having none of it – or him. She saw him off in no uncertain manner, before turning back to her main mission of protecting her precious eggs.
Philippa from the RSPB, who was in charge of showing visitors like me the live “feed” from the nest, told me that it is possible the first of the four eggs may hatch on Monday. That will be a month since it was laid, on Easter Monday.
There’s a live webcam you can watch, if you are so inclined:
I find it awe-inspiring that Mrs P-F returns each year in this way to raise another brood. I mean, I gave birth to four children – but not four a year, every year,
for twelve years. Think about it, every year she lays her eggs and every year she watches them hatch out. She feeds them, watches them grow, take their first tentative flights around the Cathedral spire and turrets. So little time before they head off into
the world outside. At least I had eighteen years before each of mine flew the nest. How much luckier I was – and still am – than Mrs Peregrine Falcon.
there she sits, undaunted by thoughts of the future. These are her eggs. She is The Mother. Mothers do whatever mothers have to do.
It’s a triumph
of hope over experience. Year after year, after year...