Meet four of our most popular Cathedral visitors - the peregrine falcons. We have kept a record of their lives on video and have uploaded some highlights to our Youtube channel here so that you can keep up to date with them.
ABOUT OUR FALCONS
Peregrines were absent from the Cathedral Tower for a long time (possibly due to persecution and the use of pesticides which decimated the UK peregrine population) but in 2014 they finally returned, nested successfully once more after a 60 year absence. They have since Returned every year, thanks to the efforts of RSPB Conservation Officer, Phil Sheldrake, and Clerk of the Works, Gary Price.
There are nine fully authenticated records of peregrines breeding at the Cathedral between 1864 and 1953 (the last known breeding attempt prior to their return in 2013). Even on those nine occasions, the birds were sometimes robbed of their eggs or chicks - these were the days before legal protection of birds of prey. See our gallery here.
FINDING A PLACE TO NEST
Before 2013 apparently mated pairs had been recorded roosting on the Spire of the cathedral so after an adult pair were observed on the cathedral over the winter, a nest box was erected on the East face of the tower, one level below the tower walkway. For reasons only the birds can know, it was not used. However, in mid April 2013 after a lot of Peregrine activity was spotted on the South face, the RSPB discovered that a mated pair had laid 3 eggs directly onto the stone walkway used by tourists on Tower Tours. Sadly the eggs rolled apart on the hard surface and were deserted.
BUILDING A SPECIAL NEST BOX
Given that the birds somewhat surprisingly favoured the South (hot) side of the Tower, with expert advice Richard Pike, the Ecclesiastical Carpenter, built a customised nesting box and in early 2014 the South balcony was closed to visitors (minimising disturbance) and the box was installed. The rest is history. Since 2014 peregrines have hatched and fledged from the Tower every year. This year's chick story is a little different as you can see from the video below:
ADOPTING A NEW PEREGRINE CHICK
Find out why there's a new chick in our nest here:
TRACKING OUR PEREGRINES
We have all our peregrines chicks ringed so that we can follow their progress - and staff here name them all. If you are interested in helping us tracking them down, look out for a large blue ring with following initials:
2014 - Peter, Paula and Pip
GX, GT and GV
2015 - Tony, Kate George and Justice
KA, KB, KC and KD
2016 Aveline and Raphael
ST and SC
This year we ringed our adult birds and fitted the female, Sally, with a satellite tracker:
2017 Sally and Sebastian - adults
SY and SB
2017 Dene and Wylye - chicks
KV and KT