Peregrine Watch gives insight into cathedral’s birds

Published on 09 April 2018




A newly-laid clutch of four eggs is being guarded by a pair of mating peregrines nesting in a specially-built lofty hideaway in the cathedral tower.

Fittingly, the eggs were laid during the Easter holidays, with the progress closely watched by experts of the Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society (LROS) through two webcams.

Now people will be able to join the experts to observe the peregrines through binoculars or bird-spotting telescopes provided for the Peregrine Watch event taking place in the Cathedral Gardens on Wednesday, April 11, 9.30am.

Peregrines normally nest among cliffs, but in cities they often make their homes on high buildings which are the closest thing to their natural habitat.

The cathedral tower provides them with a safe, inaccessible viewpoint both to raise their young and to spot and capture their prey.

The nest area was created in March 2016, when a 180-kilogramme block of stone was carefully removed and a nesting box installed.

Two webcams were installed with agreement from Leicester Cathedral. The peregrines laid two clutches of eggs last year, but unfortunately the nest failed with none of the eggs hatching.

Leicester City Council Senior nature conservation officer, Dr Helen O’Brien, said: “Last year’s nest failed, so we have high hopes for this latest clutch of eggs.

“The cathedral tower makes an ideal home for the peregrines, and the webcam captures and broadcasts these fascinating details of the birds’ lives as they happen. 

“The Peregrine Watch event this week is a great chance for people to observe the peregrines from the ground through telescopes. It is a wonderful glimpse into the lives of these incredible birds and a reminder of just how much wildlife there is in the city”.

LROS president Jim Graham added: “After last year’s disappointment we are very excited and hopeful of a more positive outcome this year. The webcams will allow us to monitor their behaviour and enable us to understand the ecology of our birds much better so that we can help in the conservation of this iconic species.”

The peregrines will now incubate their eggs for about 30 days, with fledging usually taking place a further 40 days after hatching. Both adult birds take it in turns to incubate the eggs, allowing each other to feed.

Revd Canon Alison Adams, canon pastor and sub-dean of Leicester Cathedral, said: "We are delighted that the peregrines continue to flourish and hope very much that this year they might produce offspring, with the webcam enabling everyone to enjoy seeing fledglings growing.

“It is especially interesting that the words peregrine and pilgrim come from the same root word – the Latin 'peregrinus' – meaning foreigner. As a place of pilgrimage and of welcome for all in our community.”

For more information visit: http://leicesterperegrines.org.uk/ or follow @leicsperegrines on Twitter