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Winchester’s only pair of peregrine falcons have reared their first chicks in three years on the roof of Winchester Cathedral.
The pair originally started nesting on the Police Headquarters in Winchester in 2011, but had to relocate after the building was demolished in 2016.
After discovering Winchester Cathedral in 2017, the peregrine falcons finally settled into their new home earlier this year in a quiet and undisturbed corner of the Cathedral. A tray was placed on the gulley in the last week of February to help the peregrines nest and by the last week of April three chicks had been born.
The chicks have been ringed by the Hampshire Ornithological Society (HOS) and their progress will be monitored over the coming weeks by the HOS and the Cathedral Virgers.
Keith Betton, Chairman of the Hampshire Ornithological Society, said: “It is so good to have peregrines nesting successfully in Winchester once again. This is one of the most enigmatic birds in the world – a skilful hunter; sharp-eyed enough to see their prey from a distance of 3km, and capable of flying at 200mph – and beautiful to look at too. We are so lucky to have these birds living alongside us now when just fifty years ago they were incredibly rare in England.”
Canon Roland Riem, Vice-Dean at Winchester Cathedral, said: “We are delighted to hear that the peregrines have decided to raise their chicks at Winchester Cathedral. We are custodians of this great building and part of our mission is to care for the wildlife that inhabits the Cathedral grounds. The peregrines are a new addition to the Cathedral family and we look forward to seeing the chicks grow and develop over the coming weeks.”
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.