Pere­grine watch

Bird­watch­ers agog as fal­con re­turns to nest on top of Sal­is­bury Cathe­dral

The Guardian - - News Coronaviru­s - Steven Mor­ris

The roller­coaster saga of the Sal­is­bury Cathe­dral pere­grine fal­cons is con­tin­u­ing this spring, with one bird pro­tect­ing an egg on a bal­cony of the build­ing but an­other miss­ing in ac­tion.

A fe­male that has been vis­it­ing the bal­cony reg­u­larly has laid one egg and can be viewed hunker­ing down on the nest via a cathe­dral we­b­cam.

But a GPS track­ing de­vice at­tached to a bird known as Sally that used to nest at the cathe­dral has stopped giv­ing out its sig­nal. It could be that the de­vice has stopped work­ing or that, sadly, Sally is no more.

The fe­male on the nest does not have an iden­tity ring, mean­ing it is not known if she is the same one that pro­duced four eggs last year. But Phil Shel­drake, species re­cov­ery of­fi­cer with the RSPB, said it was highly likely that it was the same bird.

he said. “Sal­is­bury Cathe­dral sticks out like a sore thumb above the rolling coun­try­side. It’s like a five-star ho­tel for them.”

There are gen­er­ally three or four eggs in a clutch and in­cu­ba­tion does not start un­til the last egg is laid. Once that has hap­pened, the fe­male – and male – will sit on the nest at in­ter­vals to keep eggs warm. In­cu­ba­tion lasts 29-32 days, so if all goes well chicks should ap­pear in early May.

Mean­while, the tracker at­tached to Sally, who be­came a tele­vi­sion star af­ter fea­tur­ing on the BBC’s Spring­watch in 2017, last pin­pointed her on 3 Novem­ber 2019 above the vil­lage of Coombe Bis­sett, three miles from Sal­is­bury – but no sig­nal has been picked up since.

Shel­drake said: “She is pos­si­bly 10 now, and whilst the old­est pere­grine known was at least 24, the av­er­age life­span is around 10.”

PHO­TO­GRAPH: SAL­IS­BURY CATHE­DRAL/SO­LENT

A fe­male pere­grine pro­tect­ing her egg at Sal­is­bury Cathe­dral, which is ‘like a five-star ho­tel’ for fal­cons

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