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Peregrines return to nest at Winchester Cathedral

February 24, 2021

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For the fifth year running, the resident pair of Peregrine Falcons have returned to the nesting site at Winchester Cathedral, having been sighted on the Peregrine-Cam in recent weeks. 

Last year was an exceptional year for the Peregrines of the Cathedral. Of the five eggs laid, all five hatched and fledged, which is an incredibly rare occurrence. In 2019, all four eggs hatched and fledged, with one of the young male birds having recently taken up residence at St Andrew’s church in Farnham. 

Keith Betton, from the Hampshire Ornithological Society has been monitoring the behaviour of the birds this year, with Winnie and Chester displaying positive signs that they are preparing for another season, including frequent visits to the nest and making a dent in the soft shingle of the nesting tray. By mid-March, it is expected that Winnie will be laying eggs. 

“We are hopeful that 2021 will be another successful year for the Peregrines,” said Keith Betton, Hampshire Ornithological Society. “Witnessing the chicks hatching is a rare sight that people don’t often get to experience and we are very excited to be able to share this. The Peregrine-Cam provides everyone with the great privilege to view their nesting tray and the chance to follow their daily progress from hatchlings to fledglings.”

Over the last three years, Winnie and Chester have successfully reared twelve chicks, having relocated to Winchester Cathedral in 2017 when their home of six years, the Police Headquarters on Romsey Road, was demolished. The Peregrines nest on the Cathedral roof, in a tray that was supplied and installed in 2018 by the Hampshire Ornithological Society. 

The UK’s population of Peregrine Falcons has increased rapidly in the last five decades, from 350 pairs in the 1970s to an estimated 1,700 pairs today. The first pair of Peregrines in Hampshire nested on Fawley Power Station in 1993 and there are now about 18 pairs in Hampshire, including the pair at Winchester Cathedral.

The Cathedral has been home to this pair of breeding Peregrines since 2017 and live footage from the nesting site is once again being streamed to the Winchester Cathedral website. You can access the stream here along with regular diary updates and pictures from our experts.