Delight as cathedral peregrine chicks take flight

Peregrine chick Black 57 - PICTURE BY LUKE DRAY
Peregrine chick Black 57 - PICTURE BY LUKE DRAY

One of the trio of chicks being raised by the city’s famous cathedral-dwelling peregrine pair has fledged.

The first of the three peregrine chicks, which recently hatched from the famous nest site on Chichester Cathedral, took flight on the morning of Friday, June 14.

On the day that the three female chicks turned six weeks old, one of them decided the time was right to brave leaving the nest. For a couple of hours she settled just below the nest site, taking in the views of Chichester.

Then she took her first tentative flight from below the nest onto the cathedral entrance. This spectacle was enjoyed by visitors at the RSPB Date with Nature project, which has been watching the peregrine family since April.

The peregrine was identified by its leg ring as Black 57, the middle-sized female in the nest. All three chicks were fitted with unique numbered leg rings by Graham Roberts of Sussex Ornithological Society last month.

Lauren Terry, from RSPB South East, said: “Earlier in the week the young had become much more active. The chicks have been strengthening their flight muscles with lots of wing flapping, jumping on top of the nest box and even sitting in the nest turret’s castellations, all of which created a real buzz for us at the project.

“As we were setting up the project on Friday morning, a volunteer noticed ‘black 57’ had jumped down from the nest turret, a short while later she flew in direct view of visitors, all be it a little unsteady and everyone watching let out a loud cheer! It was a very special moment for the project.

“We had to wait a further 24 hours before we saw any further flights from the chicks, most likely due to the strong winds. Then on Saturday, two of the chicks spent the day taking short flights to explore different parts of the Cathedral. We are now just waiting on the last chick to join her sisters and take her first flight, I’m sure it won’t be long!”

Graham Roberts, from Sussex Ornithological Society added: “I was watching the webcam on Friday and Saturday nights, and it was great to see all three young spending the night together in the safety of the nestbox, despite venturing out of the turret during the day”.

The Date with Nature project has been based at Chichester Cathedral cafe since the project launched in April, the project has now moved onto the front lawn of the Cathedral, visitors will be able to use scopes and binoculars free of charge to get close views of the chicks perfecting their flight skills.

Lauren continued: “The project only has four weeks left to go, so if people would like to see these amazing birds in flight now is the time to do it. This is such an exciting time to see the peregrines as they chase each other, receive food passes and become more confident on the wing.”

The RSPB will be based at the cathedral every day from 10am until July 14. This is the 13th year the adult female peregrine has bred in the nest box provided by Sussex Ornithological Society.

Live footage from the nest camera can be seen on our website

Online viewers can also read updates and see new photos and footage at the project’s Facebook page: