Peregrine Blog 11 May | Salisbury Cathedral

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Peregrine Blog 11 May

I’ve been bumped by Boris.

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Peregrine Blog 11 May

Posted By : Guest Blogger Monday 11th May 2020

I’ve been bumped by Boris. BBC Points West have just recorded an interview with me which, when we arranged it on Friday was intended to be for broadcast this evening. Unfolding information regarding the lockdown will now take precedence so hopefully the piece will now be on Wednesday, just as you’re having your tea. I wonder if they’ll splice in a clip of feeding time up on the Tower?


One thing I can guarantee, however, is that tuning into the peregrine webcam will be a million times more entertaining! Our four chicks are growing fast, this is the busiest time for the falcon and tiercel (Mum and Dad), they need to be fast and accurate, clinically efficient hunters. Evolution has produced a master of the skies, a predator at the top of the food chain with the speed and talons to catch its prey and a hooked bill to tear flesh from bone. Although feral pigeons are a regular choice on the menu, our peregrines have, over the years displayed an eclectic palate and thus an obvious ability to chase down a wide variety of species. These include: starling, blackbird, song thrush, green woodpecker, greater spotted woodpecker, black-headed gull, swift, jackdaw, jay, water rail, woodcock and kingfisher. Impressive.


I find watching feeding time fascinating. And clearly so do many more people this year. The lockdown has given people the time to connect with nature; reports suggest a huge increase in people birdwatching. We have certainly seen a massive increase in people tuning into the webcam, some stats: comparing page visits with the same period last year (1st April – 11th May) there has been a 700% increase, that’s 200,000 visits! Data shows that there have been around 50,000 repeat visits to the website in the last month following the fortunes of our peregrines, indeed 4,200 people visited the site yesterday – at 4pm there were 516 simultaneous viewers!


What will you be watching this evening?

View our live stream here

About Phil Sheldrake
Phil Sheldrake is the Cathedral’s Nature Conservation Adviser. He describes himself as a social conservationist, focused on bringing people and the natural world closer together. Phil began life as a teacher, but 25 years ago a lifelong love of wildlife signaled a career change and he swapped the classroom for the great outdoors. Starting his RSPB career as a reserves warden in Wales, he went on to manage the Wessex Stone-curlew Recovery Project and most recently covered Wiltshire & Gloucestershire d as Conservation Officer. He is a founder member of the (Eurasian) Curlew Forum, a national network for curlew conservation groups across England. Phil first approached the Cathedral in 2011 with the idea to provide a nest box for the peregrines he had seen roosting on the Tower over winter. In 2014 his efforts were rewarded with peregrines returning to nest successfully after an absence of 61 years. Since then Phil has continued to support the Cathedral in development of the peregrine project including the provision of the webcam to give us a window into the life of this charismatic bird. Phil works closely with another peregrine expert, Granville Pictor of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society and Cathedral Clerk of Works, Gary Price. He also co-ordinates the peregrine ringing, with the help of naturalist Ed Drewitt of the British Trust for Ornithology.