Chichester's Peregrines: How are they getting on?

The husband and wife duo at the forefront of keeping track of Chichester Cathedral's famous taloned tenants have provided an update.

Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 1:51 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 3:02 pm
Picture by David Shaw

David and Janet Shaw, from Worthing, have always had an interest in wildlife and have been watching the peregrines at Chichester Cathedral in 2001 and after setting up a website dedicated to them, their involvement became 'deeper and deeper'.

The RSPB cut ties with the project in December last year due to lack of funding and, after David and Janet purchased a new camera to watch the birds with, the project was handed to them along with the cathedral and Sussex Ornithological Society.

Janet, who is retired said she enjoys working with the birds 'very much' and said it as a lot more work for her.

Picture by David Shaw

On Sunday March 31 at 1.33pm the female, named Mrs M, laid an egg. It is expected that once three more eggs are laid it should take about 33 days until they hatch and then another six weeks until they fly.

Wildlife photographer and print room manager David said: "I'm extremely excited because we were never sure that it was going to happen this year because of works [to the cathedral]. The fact the male is a new male we are very very excited to see that an egg has been laid — very excited about that."

The male peregrine, named Maverick after the character in the film Top Gun, first came to the cathedral spire in July last year after coming from Brighton and then Worthing. David cites Maverick's previous urban homes as the reason it is so adept at hunting over rooftops. He said: "He's unlike any I've come across in my whole life."

At around 5pm yesterday (Monday April 1) the male and female were seen in the skies above the cathedral fighting with a pair of buzzards.

Sussex Ornithological Society member Graham Roberts is the person responsible for ringing the birds which allows them to be tracked wherever they go, but for budding bird watchers, the way to tell the difference between the male and the female is that the female is about one third larger.

Open days are being held on the south west lawns of the cathedral between 10am and 4pm on April 27 and 28, May 4,5,18 and 19, and June 8, 9, 15, 16. All events are subject to weather permitting and would be cancelled if there is heavy rain.