This month's edition of Wiltshire Life carries a story about the people who watch and care for our peregrines at Salisbury Cathedral. They are the few, millions more followed the falcons on Springwatch last month, are watching them through the RSPB telescopes on our lawns (thanks to the Date with Nature team), and tune in daily online to follow their progress via webcam as they prepare for their new and independent lives. We caught up with one of those Salisbury peregrine superfans - Geoff Welford from Kent:
"It was the end of March this year. The high pitched cry of a raptor heading toward the Cathedral spire reminded me I had intended to look out for the Salisbury Cathedral peregrines. There she was, the bird I’d later find out was Sally, heading to her customary nest site on the balcony up on the spire. We’d been treated to Sally’s acceptance of an orphaned chick on BBC’s Springwatch 2017 and had followed the fledging of both her own and the adopted youngster later that year. I was keen to see if I could spot the peregrines on our visit to Salisbury and wasn’t disappointed.
"Barbara and I live on the North Kent coast. We were taking a short break in Salisbury, to visit Stonehenge and Old Sarum, as well as taking in The Salisbury Museum, Cathedral and other city sites. Sally was a bonus. I do watch birds, but draw the line at hiring a helicopter to tick off a little brown job blown in from America by Atlantic storms! I watched Sally flying and hunting, but on our last day noticed she was agitated, restless and calling much more than usual. I assumed the arrival of her mate, little knowing that a rival pair had flown in and would drive Sally away.
"At home we tuned into the webcams, missed Sally’s ousting, but were captivated by the 4-egg laying sequence and subsequent hatching, We also missed Sally’s return and fight with the new pair, though we have watched the episode on YouTube. Luckily for the three newly hatched chicks and hatching 4th egg, Sally was driven away before they were harmed. We have watched the fledglings’ progress as they have grown, being ringed a month or so ago. Their story has featured a couple of times on Springwatch which is still available on iPlayer if you want a summary.
"It has been a thrill for us both. Thanks to the webcams we have learnt so much about peregrine behaviour, sometimes heart-in-mouth as we heard that Sally (GPS tagged) has never been far away.
"As I write the juveniles have fledged, having outgrown the nest. For a while they seemed to be doing their best to avoid the webcams as they explored the balcony and flexed their wings in preparation. We watched the last youngster sitting forlornly on the edge of the nest area, but missed the moment it decided it could fly after all to join its siblings! How will they fare in the big wide world and will we ever see them again? I hope so!"