A blog post by Phil Sheldrake on 28 March
It’s eerily quiet out there – it is like we’re being shouted at. In the absence of the low, ubiquitous rumble of traffic and busy lives the birdsong rises above, almost deafening at times. But always sheer joy. The blackbird melts pure liquid, blue tits fuss and sparrows chatter incessantly, it’s wonderful! It almost felt like the robins and chaffinches in the Cathedral Close were assaulting me as I ran through this morning for my quota exercise. The peregrines’ not evident today.
The huge increase in people tuning in to the peregrine webcam could be easily explained as we are constrained in lockdown. However, is it purely because we’re just not able to go about our daily lives? Or is it because we do actually have an intrinsic need to connect with nature? I have been for many walks in the countryside with friends who have simply not heard the thrush singing until I point it out, or notice the temporal blossom on the thorn, but take it all away and I’m sure they’d miss it. Hopefully, good will come from this Covid crisis, nature’s value will be more widely recognised and greater efforts made to protect and enhance it.
We have a third egg! Two and a half days after the second. Reassuring normality from our peregrines in our un-normal world. Will there be a fourth? For the clutch to remain at three would not be uncommon, but four would be normal….and two and a half days after the third would be normal. Sunday evening then?
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.