Our peregrine cam is live, giving online viewers a ringside seat on the all the nesting box action up on the Tower balcony. So far, we have five eggs (see attachment below) which you may be able to spot, if you are lucky, on our webcam. For Cathedral visitors there's a live video relay to the West Cloister and up in the Tower (for Tower Tour visitors). Click here to watch the live feed.
The first egg was laid on Friday (31 March) and the second egg before dawn on Sunday (2 April), the third between midnight and 0600 on five days later (7 April), the fourth on Tuesday (11 April) and the fifth was spotted on Good Friday (14 April). Peregrines generally produce between three and four eggs, though in urban areas it has been known for some to lay as many as six. The female will only start incubating the eggs when her clutch is complete.
Other hot news is that one, possibly two, other peregrines have been spotted on the Tower. These may be juveniles who have not yet found their own territory. They may even be helpers who will assist the female whilst she is incubating. Watch this space.
The rise in numbers is good news for the team looking after the peregrines here and nationally. Peregrines went into a steep decline during the 1950s and early 1960s with just 360 pairs recorded in 1963. According to the RSPB this was largely due to the widespread use of organochloride pesticides (e.g. DDT), which worked their way up the food chain, causing egg shell thinning and failed nests. Subsequent reduction in the use of these chemicals and increased protection of the birds meant that over the last 52 years numbers have begun to climb again.
Sadly, however, peregrines are still being persecuted by humans. Peter, one of the first chicks to hatch on the Cathedral Tower in May 2014, was found shot on farmland in King’s Somborne, in Stockbridge on Saturday 11 March 2017. Peregrines are Schedule 1 protected birds and killing or injuring one is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, so this incident is being investigated by police and the RSPB.
Peter was identified by the blue ring with the initials GX, put on whilst he was here at the Cathedral. A member of the public found him lying injured and he was taken to the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Amport, where he underwent treatment for a fractured wing. He is expected to make a full recovery and we will keep you updated on his progress.
Peter and his siblings (Pip and Paula) were the first chicks to hatch on the Cathedral Tower, after an absence of 61 years. The reintroduction was a result of a five-year-long collaboration between Phil Sheldrake, RSPB Conservation Officer, and the Cathedral’s Clerk of the Works, Gary Price.
Another peregrine born here was also traced earlier this year, thanks to her blue identification ring bearing the initials SC. Aveline, one of the two peregrine chicks hatched in 2016, was spotted this January in Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve, Old Wolverton near Milton Keynes - 81 miles (as the crow flies) away from home. So far there are no reported sightings of her brother, Raphael. He carries a blue ring with the initials ST.
Let us know if you spot a peregrine carrying a large blue ring with an two letter ID and we'll check if it is one of ours. We are keen to find out what happens to them when they fly the nest.
For any other enquiries contact Marie Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org or 01722 555148.