The Peregrines of St Mary's

Earlier this year 4 peregrine chicks hatched in the St Mary's nesting box.  Tragically, all of them subsequently died as a result of avian flu, but you can see the highlights of their short lives in the clips below.

A dead male was also found on the church roof and his body has been handed over to DEFRA - we don't yet know the results of their testing. We assume this was the male from the breeding pair, but a male and female have been seen recently around the church tower, so we can't be sure until/unless the bird can be identified by its ring.

Just in case there's a chance of another clutch of eggs, we've turned the camera back on!  This is very unlikely, because it's now so late in the season, but hopefully we can watch them courting.

When the time is right, our intention is still to clean out the nesting box and refill it with fresh gravel in the hope that they will return next year.  We will also improve the camera coverage inside the box, so that you get an even better insight into the domestic life of these beautiful birds.

Please be reassured that everything will be done in consultation with the relevant expert bodies, with the best interests of the birds our foremost priority.

During the camera installation process RSPB and Natural England were consulted to ensure that the law concerning protected birds was followed.  No licences were needed, since the camera was installed "out of season" and the birds were not disturbed in any way. 

Highlights from earlier this year:

Egg 4!

The 4th egg arrived on Sunday morning, and incubation started the day before. This means the chicks, called eyases, should be expected in the last week of April.

Egg 3!

Just before midnight egg 3 arrived, spotted by Smiffsta Sista on the Youtube chat. We're watching closely for incubation starting, which should give us a final egg count.

Chick #1!

Sometime between 4-5am on Saturday morning, the first chick arrived. Mum didn't get much sleep overnight, Dad arrives with breakfast. Expecting a busy weekend!

Egg 2!

After about 7 hours of expectation egg 2 arrives, 55hrs after the first. Peregrines usually lay a clutch of 3-4 in total, 2-3 days apart.

The Peregrine is a large, powerful falcon and the worlds' fastest animal. They are highly adaptable birds and can be found in a wide range of habitats, including coastal cliffs, upland moors, and urban areas. Peregrine Falcons are known for their incredible agility and speed, reaching in excess of 200mph in a dive, which makes them very effective hunters.

They feed on a variety of prey, including pigeons, ducks, and other birds, which they capture in mid-air. In recent years, the Peregrine Falcon population in the UK has experienced a remarkable recovery, following a period of decline in the 20th century due to pesticide use. Today, there are around 1,400 breeding pairs of Peregrine Falcons in the UK, and they are a common sight in many areas. The species is protected by law in the UK, and efforts are being made to maintain and enhance their habitat, which includes providing nesting sites on buildings and other man-made structures. This has contributed to the continued success of the Peregrine Falcon population in the UK, and they are now considered to be one of the country's most iconic bird species. However, they are still persecuted - birds are illegally killed to prevent predation on game birds and racing pigeons.
They also have eggs and chicks taken for collections and falconry. Peregrines are a Schedule 1 listed species of The Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Peregrine falcons breed from late February to mid-April, and return to the same nesting site year after year. They produce one or two broods a year.
Courtship - Jan-Feb-early March
Egg-laying - mid March-early April
Hatching - late April-early May
Fledging - early June