Salisbury Cathedral’s peregrine pair produced their first egg just in time for Easter! The peregrines settled down to nest before Holy Week and on Easter Monday, and just as the 14:15 Tower Tour reached the base of the spire, the female laid her first egg. Eight days later she laid her second and on Thursday 7 April she laid her third.
The mother and her new egg were captured on the Cathedral’s new HD cameras, placed up by the nesting box at the base of the Spire. Chris White, the Tower Guide leading the tour, had paused to talk when a visitor called the tour’s attention to the nest box monitor.
“It took me completely by surprise. I had heard the female peregrine was on the nest and while I was talking I could see her moving around but it wasn’t until one of our younger visitors, she must have been about 14 years old, pointed the egg out that I realised that the peregrine had laid!” said Chris White, Tower Tour guide.
Cathedral staff will be monitoring the nest daily watching for further developments. It will take 30 days for the eggs to incubate and the process won’t start until the whole clutch of eggs is laid. Phil Sheldrake, Conservation Officer at the RSPB estimates that we should see the youngsters hatching by the end of April.
It been four years since staff at the Cathedral led by Clerk of the Works, Gary Price, and Phil Sheldrake with volunteers from the RSPB began to collaborate on the peregrine project. The breakthrough came two years ago when the peregrines set up home in a nesting box that was built especially for them by Nick Dixon. The box kept the eggs safe and afforded the birds the privacy that they needed to bring up their young!
Once again the Cathedral will be recording events on the nest and hopes to be streaming footage live later this week in HD. Monitors set up at the top of the Tower and in the Cloisters are already offering visitors a nest-side seat!
To protect the birds and allow them to rear their young in peace, the door to the Cathedral balcony will be padlocked. When the little chicks are three weeks old they will be ringed by experts from the RSPB so that their subsequent movements can be monitored. Last year the peregrines successfully fledged four chicks.