Four peregrine chicks were ringed just after 10.00 on Monday 10 June at the base of our spire. The chicks, which are around 25 days old, were weighed, measured and ringed by Ed Drewitt from the British Trust for Ornithology, who was assisted by Phil Sheldrake, RSPB Conservation Officer.
The four chicks (three females and one male) weighed between 700 and 900 grams. They were ringed with the distinctive blue ring that marks them out as South West region peregrine, each bearing a unique two-letter allowing researchers to keep track of them in future.
Whilst the parents (dubbed Fiona and Bruce by Cathedral staff, after the Antiques Roadshow presenter who visited the Cathedral recently) circled the Tower, the youngsters were also named by Eleanor and Ben, two young ornithologists from the Cathedral School. Staff from Salisbury Cathedral and children from St. Osmund’s pre-school submitted some potential names for the chicks, which were drawn at random by Elenor and Ben. The chosen names were Perry, Sky, Petunia and Pansy.
The Salisbury chicks will remain on the Cathedral Tower balcony until the end of June when they are expected to fledge. They will stay around the Cathedral for at least month after that, learning survival and hunting skills from their parents before striking out on their own.
The four chicks have been lucky so far. On 10 May, Sally (the tagged and GPS tracked female who previously occupied the nest) moved in to harass the parents and take over the nest. For a day she disrupted incubation. Luckily all four eggs survived. Sally remains in the area, so it will be interesting to see whether she will return to harass the fledglings.
Meanwhile the Cathedral has launched its Peregrine Tower Tours in partnership with the RSPB’s South Wilts group. Well-known and respected local RSPB member and peregrine expert Granville Pictor is joining the 12.15 Tower Tours on the next three Wednesdays in June, offering visitors the opportunity to learn more about the peregrines as the youngsters prepare to fledge. Upcoming dates are:
Wednesday 12 June, 12:15
Wednesday 19 June, 12:15
Wednesday 26 June, 12:15
Tours can be booked online via the Cathedral website https://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/visit/tower-tours or at the Cathedral Welcome desk in person - and from today there are new peregrine displays up in the Cloisters and at the top of the Cathedral Tower, providing more information for visitors about our amazing family of raptors.
When fledging starts at the end of June, the Cathedral’s RSPB partners will also be offering a peregrine themed Date with Nature experience on the Cathedral’s West Lawn, just outside the entrance to the Cloisters.
From Wednesday 26 June until 24 July a team of RSPB volunteers and specialists will be on hand with telescopes and information, allowing visitors to watch our youngsters close up as they make their first move out into the world, leaving comparative safety of the balcony to practice flying and hunting.
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