Peregrine Live Stream Cameras
The cameras have now been switched off as the Peregrines will rarely be seen by the nest now.
The cameras will be switched back on in 2023.
Peregrine Live Stream Cameras
The cameras have now been switched off as the Peregrines will rarely be seen by the nest now.
The cameras will be switched back on in 2023.
Monday 1st August 2022
2022 Timeline of the Peregrines, written by Keith Betton, to wrap up the year:
Regular visits to the nest site by Winne and new male (William)
Winnie lays her first egg
Winnie eats first egg – maybe it had a crack
Winnie lays a replacement egg
Winnie lays a second egg
Winnie lays a third egg
Two chicks hatch. Third egg does not hatch.
The chicks are ringed under licence
XSC – female (Elizabeth)
XNC – male (George)
Chicks are busy exploring the gully
Male chick makes first flight
Female chick makes first flight
Regular flights by the chicks with the parents in the general area, and now rarely seen near the nest
Many thanks to Steve Grundy for sharing his excellent photos of the Peregrines flights (below).
Tuesday 28th June 2022
Young choristers help choose names of Winchester Cathedral peregrine chicks.
The male (orange ring = XNC) has been named George.
The female (orange ring = XSC) has been named Elizabeth.
Monday 13 June 2022
So much has happened in the last week! It was great to see so many of you at last week’s talk – thank you for signing up.
Our two chicks have now both taken their first flights. The male (orange ring = XNC) was the first to take to the air, and perhaps because of his lighter weight he has already managed to fly around the cathedral with relative ease. The female (orange ring = XSC) took her first flight at 0530 on Saturday, landing in a nearby garden in Cathedral Close.
This week the chicks will continue to fly around, and they will be enticed to follow Winnie and William to collect food. If you want to see them doing these early flights the best place to watch from is the north side perimeter. You won’t be alone as a small crowd of admirers is stationed there most of the time!
Monday 6 June 2022
Our chicks are growing well and are exercising their wings daily. They often prefer the side gully, which is off camera, although feeds seem to be around the nest tray. Very soon they will be far more mobile and could be anywhere in the gully.
A few people have asked for an explanation of food caching. Winnie and William sometimes cache a portion or a whole kill if they find themselves with too much food at one time. They will push it into a corner somewhere to use later, although usually they will pluck the prey and eat part of it immediately. Often a series of shrivelled-up wings and headless bodies are left abandoned in the gully and never used. It’s a bit grim in the gully already! William will mostly cache food to supply Winnie and the chicks. Occasionally he will take food that Winnie has cached, although he usually does so only once he has alerted her to his intentions using soft “chup” calls.
Monday 30 May 2022
The chicks are just over 4 weeks old now and are exploring the gully a lot more. It is impossible to have the second camera in the right place to always see them, so mostly we show a wide shot, but they quite often sneak past and have even explored around the corner. This is where William often sits, so they are usually being watched over, perhaps at a distance.
You’ll see their feathers are appearing quickly and soon they will be brown and cream all over, and they will practice their wings. These feathers are covered by protective covers (called sheaths) as they emerge. This week’s photo shows the female chick exercising her tiny wings which will double in size of the next three weeks. Within a month she will be bigger than William.
If you want to see the chicks in person you’ll have two wait about two more weeks, and then they will appear on the gully wall, only taking first flights a week after that. Winnie and William will drop food in and let the chicks work out what to do for themselves. That will again mean that the female gets to eat first in most cases, but there should be enough for the male too. Then the supply of food will reduce as Winnie tries to persuade them to leave the gully. She will probably let them see her carrying food and get them to chase her. This will persuade them to fly. It’s all part of the plan to get them to leave home.
Yesterday was an important day for the Peregrine chicks, as they received their colour rings which will allow them to be identified from a distance in the future. We have a male and female, and they now have a lightweight orange plastic ring with three initials:
XSC – female
XNC – male
The male is the smallest (as always in Peregrines). Males are always smaller than females, and in later life that is a good thing because it means that they chase different sizes of prey and don’t compete for food with their chosen partner. Also, males can bring in small food items when the female is feeding tiny chicks.
The ringing process is done under a Government licence and does not hurt the chicks although clearly it is a bit frightening to suddenly meet humans for the first (and hopefully only) time. It allows us to check the birds over, and also the tagging process allows us to identify these birds in future years when they settle down to nest. Winnie, being the great mother that she is, made plenty of noise and flew low showing off her talons, which are her main weapons. She has seen this ringing process about ten times before and now she settles down as soon as we have gone.
Winnie has several offspring who are now breeding within 50 miles, and although she won’t know it, she has become a great great grandmother a few times already!
Both chicks were in very good shape and have been fed well. In a week or so Winnie and William will change strategy by dropping food into the gully and letting the chicks work out how to eat it themselves. They have also started to wander around the gully floor and that is important to build up strength in their legs. In two weeks you’ll see a lot of wing stretching too, followed by runs and jumps as they work out the idea of flying. The first attempts at flying are due around 21 June, and that will be a risky time for them – as with any trainee pilot. The cathedral staff are ready to fetch either chick if it ends up stuck on the ground somewhere. There is already a Peregrine Recovery Box ready to transport any grounded chicks back to safety. Recent studies have shown that Peregrines born in cities and watched on webcams have a far higher chance of survival at this stage because in addition to Winnie and William there are several thousand humans watching over them and fretting!
Friday 20 May 2022
The chicks are three weeks old now. They can now regulate their own body temperature so Winnie and William are able to leave them alone – even in the rain! Soon these chicks will leave the tray and start to explore the gully and we expect that to happen next week.
Monday is going to be a big day for them! We always check on them at this age and carefully give them identification rings to allow their future lives and journeys to be tracked. The camera will be off while we do this – just for a short time around 1430-1500 hrs. This check is done under a government licence and each chick will get a small metal leg ring with its precise details and a larger orange plastic ring which has big letters and numbers that can be read using a telescope from a distance. We will also be able to try and work out what sex they are. At this stage the females have fatter legs!
Because of this work we know where several of Winnie’s chicks have gone, and mostly they are within 50-100 miles of Winchester. We also know that Peregrines can live for up to 20 years and we recently saw a 13-year old bird that had managed to survive undetected in all that time. We also know from these studies that around half of all Peregrine chicks don’t survive their first year. At least we will have a chance to know where Winnie and William’s offspring go to if they are spotted in the future.
Tuesday 3 May 2022
Although Winnie laid three eggs it looks as only two are going to hatch. This is quite common with Peregrines because they incubate the first eggs from the same point, the last egg laid is always incubated at least two days behind the others. Usually, Winnie has still managed to hatch that last egg (and she is still incubating it as you can see from the photo), but as it is having to share the space under her belly with two wriggling chicks it is now unlikely to hatch.
For the rest of this week Winnie will continue to give them her warmth by scooping them up against her breast, but it won’t be long before they are a bit too big to sit on, and at that point she will join William in the hunt for food. She will spend the nights with them, sitting next to the nest, probably on the gully wall.
With lots of food being brought in we can expect the chicks to grow fast. Most parent birds tend to respond to demands for food from the most pushy chicks. Looking ahead, these chicks will look the same as now for the next two weeks, just getting bigger by the day. After that, their first feathers will start to grow, and the process from helpless chick to adventurous juvenile will be a remarkably quick one. Female Peregrines are always bigger than males, so it will be interesting to see if there is a size difference in two weeks – or we might have two females or two males – as they are exactly the same age.
Thursday 28 April 2022 – Update
The second chick hatched out this afternoon, and the third is hoped to be with us tomorrow. Winnie has kept both under her breast to keep them warm. Just briefly we caught a view of the first chick, already dry and getting fluffy. The second chick can be seen just beneath Winnie, still drying off.
Thursday 28 April 2022
Winnie and William have their first chick – exactly on time. Here is the exact moment when Winnie revealed the chick to William (it was still in the early hours when the camera is not in colour).
We expect the second chick to hatch later today. Winnie will keep them warm for the first two weeks and then when they are getting bigger, she will leave them more and more. The next six weeks will be busy! By late May they will be moving about the nest gulley and in June they will take their first flights! It’s an exciting time.
Friday 22 April 2022
Winnie has been amazing at incubating her eggs for a month, barely leaving the nest and just occasionally for a quick feed while William takes over.
We are now about a week away from the hatching of her eggs. They should hatch in the order they were laid, with eggs 1 and 2 on Thursday or Friday and egg 3 maybe a day later. Sometimes the last egg does not get enough warmth to hatch, but Winnie is a very experienced Peregrine, so we expect her to hatch all of them.
In the last day before the chicks break out Winnie will be quite edgy because they start calling from inside the unhatched eggs and she can hear them. Once they have hatched Winnie will eat the empty eggshells to get rid of them – but it also provides her with useful calcium.
Winnie will be keeping them warm with William bringing in the food for her to rip up into small bits. For the next 10-14 days she’ll stay with them, and then she too will go hunting for prey as they grow fast, and no amount of food seems to be enough!
Monday 28 March 2022
Today Winnie laid her third egg. Because she started fully incubating these after the second egg we think she will stop at three, although in 2020 she hatched five, but only incubated after the fourth.
She will incubate these all day and night with William taking her place when she wants a break from it. As there are only three eggs we may now see the first chick hatch around 28-29 April.
To read the previous Peregrine Diary entries written by Keith Betton, click on ‘Peregrine Diary Archive’ below.
Wednesday 23 March 2022
Winnie has now laid her second egg. She will protect these but not incubate them constantly until there are at least three. The third egg may arrive on Friday or Saturday.
Tuesday 15th March 2022
Winnie laid her first egg.
Monday 14 March 2022
Welcome back to everyone who watched last year, and if you are new to this site, thank you for joining us. My name is Keith Betton and I am from the Hampshire Ornithological Society. I update this diary most weeks, and I run a team that monitors about 25 Peregrine nests in Hampshire – the most we have ever had.
Winnie and her new partner William are visiting the nest tray more and more as we get closer to egg-laying. in the coming weeks. Like all male Peregrines, William is smaller than Winnie, and he has more white on his cheeks. Mostly it is Winnie who is sat by the nest.
At this stage they can occasionally be seen bowing to each other, but in particular look out for them making a dent in the soft shingle. Either bird (but mostly Winnie) will push their breast against the shingle and push forward to make a dent. They do this most days – and apart from making the dent it reinforces their relationship with the nest.
On several occasions Winnie has been eating the gravel in the nest tray. Both birds do this to help clear any fatty deposits in their digestive tract that may be building up from the meat that they eat.
Any day now we expect Winnie to be laying eggs – and last year she laid four, the first of which appeared on 10 March which was exceptionally early. Based on her normal routine we would expect the first egg from Winnie this week – maybe on Tuesday or Wednesday, so keep watching! Eggs are often laid in the early morning before most people are watching. We will try to capture the moment if we can.
I will share Peregrine facts with you each week, but feel free to ask questions about what you are seeing by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
On Tuesday 15th March, Winnie laid her first egg. Everyone now has questions about our Peregrines, so I thought I’d create a Peregrine Q&A. I’ve tried to answer most things here but please fire away with further questions and I will add the answers. Feel free to ask extra questions – email@example.com
How long do Peregrines live?
Many live to be 10+ years old. The oldest we know of is 21. However, the mortality rate for young falcons is about 60%. This means that approximately 6 out of every 10 falcons hatched will die in its first year of life.
Do Peregrines mate for life?
Generally, they do keep the same mate from year to year. However, if a member of the pair dies, the surviving falcon may accept a replacement mate quite quickly.
Why is the male smaller than the female?
They both catch different prey – she will catch pigeons and crows and he will mostly aim for smaller birds like thrushes and Starlings, but males can catch smaller pigeons. It means that they compliment each other.
Why do Peregrines nest on buildings?
They typically nest on ledges of rock cliffs. However, they have been able to adapt to use tall buildings which to them are just another kind of cliff. Some also nest on pylons and a small number use trees. We even have nests on shingle islands.
What kind of nest do Peregrines make?
They do not bring nesting material to an area to build a nest. Instead, they make what is called a scrape or shallow depression in existing gravel or other debris by lying down and pushing back with a foot.
Why do the Peregrines eat the gravel in the nest tray?
It helps to clear fatty deposits from their digestive tract.
Why don’t the pair sit on the eggs all the time?
The female typically begins incubation after the second or third egg but before that either bird will guard the eggs, perching nearby. Once incubation begins, the female is usually sitting on the nest and the male will take shorter shifts.
How long do the eggs take to hatch?
The female does most of the incubating, which takes about 33 days. While the female flies off to feed, the male incubates the eggs. The newly hatched chicks weigh about 50-60 grams and are covered with fluffy white down feathers.
When will the eggs hatch?
The first was laid on 15 March and we expect that to hatch around 25 April.
Will all of the eggs hatch?
Sometimes one will not hatch, and often that’s the last to be laid as it hatches last and may not get enough warmth when there are also small chicks under the female.
Is it normal for the chicks to be left unattended?
Not at first – and for the first few weeks after hatching, the chicks are brooded almost constantly. After approximately 2-3 weeks they no longer need constant brooding, and the adults often are outside the nest for extended periods.
How many young do Peregrines have?
Usually 3 or 4 eggs are laid, and exceptionally 5 (as in 2020). The eggs are slightly smaller than a chicken egg, and are mottled with a dark, reddish-brown pigment.
How long do young Peregrines stay in the nest?
Approximately 6 weeks. The downy white feathers the nestlings have when they hatch are gradually replaced by juvenile feathers in about 3-5 weeks. At about 6 weeks of age, the young falcons will make their first attempts at flying. After they fledge, they will be dependent on the adults until they can hunt for themselves (about 4 weeks later).
What happens if a chick falls from the ledge?
The Cathedral staff are very good at collecting up chicks when the first try to fly and make mistakes. They will take them back to the nest gully and they can try again.
How much does a Peregrine eat in a day?
An adult Peregrine will eat about 70 grams of food per day. This is equal to about two blackbirds.
How long have these Peregrines been in Winchester?
Winnie and her former mate Chester were first noticed in 2011 when they nested on the old Police HQ in Romsey Road. That was demolished in 2017 so they moved to the Cathedral.
What happened to Chester and who is William?
Very sadly he suffered from internal parasites, and these eventually killed him last summer. Winnie raised two chicks to fledging after he had died. A new male dropped in a few times, and we named him Alfred. The was known to us, born in Andover in 2019, but he was still a bit immature. This spring Winnie has a new mate we have called William. He may also be young, but he is more experienced than Alfred.
Why did you call him William?
We named him after William Walker, the diver who worked so hard to rebuild the foundations of the Cathedral in the early 1900s. He had to work in complete darkness underwater.
Do Winnie and William stay in Winchester all year?
Some Peregrines do migrate, and some do not. Those from Scandinavia come here in the winter to avoid extremely cold weather. Our Peregrines in Winchester are rarely far from the Cathedral – it’s a prime nest spot.
Do Peregrines have any predators?
No, they are rarely killed by other birds of prey, but female Peregrines will attack each other in territorial battles for nest sites and that can result in injury.
What happens to the chicks once they leave the nest?
Shortly after fledging, the young falcons remain close to the Cathedral and are frequently observed perching on nearby buildings. The youngsters beg for food from the adults, often loudly calling.
Do we know where our Winchester chicks have moved to after fledging?
Yes, because we give them lightweight leg rings we have had reports from most of the counties in south-east England and as far away as Cambridge and Essex.
Peregrines have not had an easy time. Because they like to eat pigeons the Government ordered for many to be killed during the Second World War, so that they did not intercept pigeons carrying secret messages. After the war, the side effects of organochlorine pesticides caused a further, more serious decline by thinning egg shells and increasing adult mortality. In fact, until the 1980s Peregrines had disappeared from southern England completely.
After three decades of challenge, the Peregrine started to recover following the banning of some pesticides in the 1980s, and breeding recommenced in Dorset and Sussex. Sightings in Hampshire grew in line with this expansion and in 1993 a pair nested on the chimney of Fawley Power Station. In 1995 a nest was built on a pylon near to Southampton and by 2008 there were nine pairs nesting in the county on a variety of structures and natural sites.
A pair nested twice on the Police Headquarters in Winchester in 2011 and 2012, but as they suffered from exposure to bad weather, the Hampshire Ornithological Society (HOS) installed a nesting box on the roof in 2013. This pair then nested each year until early 2017 when the building was demolished. Knowing that the birds liked sitting on Cathedral it was suspected that they might try to nest there, and indeed they did – in a gulley in 2017. Sadly, heavy rain flooded their nest. In 2018 HOS asked for permission to install a raised nesting tray in the same gulley and within weeks of this being installed the birds laid eggs in March. Three beautiful chicks were reared and stayed around the Cathedral for much of the summer.
Most adult Peregrines remain in their nesting territories throughout the year. Young birds remain with their parents into their first winter but are chased away at the beginning of the new year. Peregrines are more widely distributed outside the breeding season than during it. They often hunt over wide areas looking for suitable prey such as wildfowl and waders on the coast.
The Peregrine is still regarded as being of conservation concern in both a European and a UK context, but after having suffered at the hands of man for many years, this top predator is now benefiting from our protection.
The Hampshire Ornithological Society is a charity with the aims of advancing the education of the public in all aspects of ornithology, promoting research and publishing records of what has been seen. It also supports and encourages the preservation and conservation of wild birds and places of ornithological interest in Hampshire.
As part of HOS’s work on Peregrines, many of the chicks born in Hampshire are given rings to carry for their entire lives. These are so light that they do not affect the birds, but they allow individuals to be identified whenever they are perched. The three chicks from 2018 carry both a metal and an orange ring. They have not been seen since last summer, but that is quite normal as young birds need to find their own places to live. Other chicks from Hampshire have gone as far away as Kent, Cambridge and Dorset.
Keith Betton, Chairman of HOS, said: “It is so good to be able to watch these majestic birds at close range, and to marvel at their ability to fly so fast. They have had a tough time in the past and now it is time to help them. It is great to be working with the Cathedral staff to help these birds.”
“Last year’s nesting season was like no other that I have experienced so far. The highs and lows with loss of a fledgling youngster and the arrival of a new male adult took their toll on all those working and volunteering here at the Cathedral.
“We strive to get the balance right with these amazing creatures. Indeed Chapter and all the staff work on the basis the Peregrines are left to the demands of nature, and minimal intervention is our approach at all times. Let us not forget nature is cruel and the survival of a youngster is only 30% after the first season.
“Against this we look forward to seeing this year’s activity. Success is by no means guaranteed and I am sure at times our mouths will dry up and our hearts run a little faster as nature shows us the bad and good side of the Peregrine.”
– Ian James, Virger at Winchester Cathedral
If you’re interested in the life of birds at Winchester Cathedral, you may be interested to know that in August 2020, with funding from Birds on the Brink, Hampshire Swifts installed 20 nest boxes for swifts in the bell tower of the cathedral. Read the latest updates on the birds movements here.
Picnic under a summer sky and lose yourself in this classic fairytale that’s full of song and joy.
Fun for all the family, taking place in the Lower Deanery Garden of Winchester Cathedral.