The Leicester Peregrine Project is a run by the Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society (LROS) with the help of Leicester City Council (LCC) and Leicester Cathedral. The objective is to Identify, Monitor and Promote the Conservation of Peregrines within Leicester and its environs.
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12 February: Thanks to James Burman and Ken Robinson who have sent me photographs of a juvenile bird on the church at Market Harborough. The partial ring-read seems to indicate this is P7D from 2018. The first confirmed sighting since leaving the Cathedral area in August.
4 February: Two new cameras have been installed, one to replace the faulty unit. Please bear with us whilst we configure them for optimum streaming.
7 January: The long-staying juvenile (PCF) has not been seen on the platform since 11 December.
Working Together in Partnership – The Story So Far
In February 2014, a partnership between the Leicestershire & Rutland ornithological Society (LROS) and LCC was formed called Leicester Peregrines to monitor the habits and activities of a known pair of Peregrine Falcons in Leicester city centre. A group of volunteers from LROS started surveying the city and noticed the birds frequenting a number of tall buildings. These included Leicester Cathedral, the Old Lewis’s Tower, the Cardinal Building (BT Tower) and St Georges (Blue) Tower. It quickly became apparent that the Leicester Peregrines were intent on breeding.
Unfortunately, the location of the nest was less than secure and the decision was made to erect a number of artificial nest boxes on various buildings to try and encourage the birds to move to a safer location.
With the agreement of Leicester Cathedral and after the input of an independent Urban Peregrine expert, a 5-star nest platform was erected on the east facing side of the Cathedral spire in March 2016. Unfortunately, this was slightly too late for that breeding season but when the juveniles fledged later that year, the adults immediately brought them to the Cathedral.
Although the pair did not breed here in 2016, both the adults and the two juveniles could often be seen either on the platform or on one of the spire crosses. This gave us hope that they would return in 2017. And so it proved: they never left the Cathedral and could be seen almost every day either on the platform or on one of the Spire crosses.
In March 2017, the female laid 3 or possibly 4 eggs (the cameras were playing up) only for them all to fail. A few weeks later a second clutch of four was laid but unfortunately these too failed. Video footage showed the female eat the eggs when she realised they were not viable. The reason for the failure was unknown but not uncommon in Peregrine falcons.
Despite this setback, the pair remained around the Cathedral defending the nest site for the remainder of the season and through into 2018.
In 2018, we were hopeful that they would attempt to breed again and all signs were positive. The first egg was laid on 23 March and the clutch of four was completed on 5 April.
On 6 May, just over 40 days later, the first egg hatched at 01:30 in the morning. A few days later a second egg hatched but unfortunately, the two others were not viable.
Both chicks were well looked after by their parents and grew steadily. On 24 May, they were large enough to be ringed under licence from the BTO becoming known as P7D and PCF. It was thought that the larger chick P7D was female it’s sibling a male.
Just three weeks later and P7D had taken flight and fledged the nest. PCF followed the following day. Their first flights were not without concern but thankfully both survived and were frequently seen around St Martins Square and on the Cathedral whilst their parents taught them how to hunt for their own food.
Juvenile P7D (always the more adventurous of the two) was the first to leave the area but PCF remained until at least 11 December and could often be heard calling/begging for food. We wish them both well and hope that they may be identified by their rings somewhere in the UK and they manage to set up a breeding territory of their own in a couple of years time.
It is hoped that the resident pair will breed again in 2019 and the current signs are encouraging with both adults being seen spending a lot of time on the platform and actively generating a scrape within the box. Fingers crossed!