Leicester Peregrines

The Original female (2014) takes to the air at Leicester Cathedral (c) Jim Graham

The Leicester Peregrine Project is run by the Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society (LROS) with the help of Leicester City Council (LCC), Leicester Cathedral and King Richard III Centre. The objective is to Identify, Monitor and Promote the Conservation of Peregrines within Leicester and its environs.

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The Leicester Peregrine Project is managed through the Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society – Reg. Charity 254645. If you would like to help in the funding of this project, you can make secure donations online via the LROS JustGiving page; simply click the button below. Please mark your donation “Peregrine Project“. Thank you.

Latest Activity:

9 October – the female remains on the ledge from the previous evening until 5:25 when she flies off. She is back at 6:35 and briefly visits the box and leaves after 20 minutes; she is back briefly at 7:15. The male flies in at 7:25 and is followed quickly by the female carrying fresh Feral Pigeon prey. He flies off five minutes later and she proceeds to pluck and feed on the platform. She stashes the remains in the box at 8:05. The male sneaks in and steals the stash and flies out with the female in pursuit. The female returns five hours later and sits on the ledge where she remains until leaving at 16:00. She is back an hour later and flies off after 20 minutes returning after a few minutes with what appears to be the scraps from this morning’s pigeon. She feeds on the scraps until 18:10 when there is little left and she sits on the ledge. She goes into the box as the male arrives a few moments later and he joins her but leaves after a few minutes. She flies off at 18:25 and the male is back 20 minutes later. He goes into the box when the female returns at 18:50; she replaces him five minutes later and he sits on the ledge until 20:35 when he flies off. The female moves from the box to the ledge at 23:20 but flies off after 20 minutes.

What’s Happened in 2021:

23 June 2021 – the cameras are back up and running and look to be fairly stable. The pair is still in residence and visiting the box every day. There are bonding sessions and the female continues to make scrapes in the stones although it is much too late for any eggs to be laid this season.

18 April 2021 – Photo: the female notices the crack in the egg and removes it from the scrape.

18 April 2021 – So the drama continues. When the male rose from incubating the egg mid-afternoon of 18 April, a crack could clearly be seen. Despite this, the female took over incubation until she noticed the damage. The egg looked hollow; she flies off with it.

17 April 2021 – after a traumatic 12 months for the resident male, the female lays the first egg for the new pairing. Let’s hope this is the start of a successful season for them.

17 April 2021 – Video: the male is shown the first egg laid by the new female.

24 March 2021 – a ‘new’ un-ringed female has been present in the territory for a couple of days and the resident pair have been repelling her. The competing females were seen talon grappling and were filmed fighting in a courtyard close to the Cathedral. The resident female was bloodied but with the help of the male, seems to still have control of the platform.

10 March 2021 – from current activity, it is obvious that the UN-RINGED female is now in charge of the nest site.

25 January 2021 – Video: the new pair have their first snow of the season.

9 October – the female remains on the ledge from the previous evening until 5:25 when she flies off. She is back at 6:35 and briefly visits the box and leaves after 20 minutes; she is back briefly at 7:15. The male flies in at 7:25 and is followed quickly by the female carrying fresh Feral Pigeon prey. He flies off five minutes later and she proceeds to pluck and feed on the platform. She stashes the remains in the box at 8:05. The male sneaks in and steals the stash and flies out with the female in pursuit. The female returns five hours later and sits on the ledge where she remains until leaving at 16:00. She is back an hour later and flies off after 20 minutes returning after a few minutes with what appears to be the scraps from this morning’s pigeon. She feeds on the scraps until 18:10 when there is little left and she sits on the ledge. She goes into the box as the male arrives a few moments later and he joins her but leaves after a few minutes. She flies off at 18:25 and the male is back 20 minutes later. He goes into the box when the female returns at 18:50; she replaces him five minutes later and he sits on the ledge until 20:35 when he flies off. The female moves from the box to the ledge at 23:20 but flies off after 20 minutes.

LATEST NEWS

15 December 2020: There is yet another new female in residence. A 2018 bird from central Birmingham first seen on 21 September after the previous female was not seen from 6 September. The new pair are bonding frequently. For fuller details see: Breaking News.

9 July 2020: After many hundreds of hours reviewing recordings, we have now been able to identify where both our birds have come from:

The Male was ringed as a chick in Nottingham on 17 May 2008 making him 12 years old.
This is the first confirmed sighting of him. (c) Jim Graham
The New Female (went missing on 6 September) was ringed as a chick in Warwickshire on 30 June 2016 making her just four years old. This is probably her first pairing and first confirmed sighting of her. (c) Jim Graham
27 April 2020 – Video: our resident female (left) defends the nest site against an intruding younger female. Here is a short section from the start of the fight.

Keep Up-to-date here: Daily Commentary

To see a log of current events and activities please visit the Daily Commentary Page or for older information please the Archive Page.

Leicester Cathedral Egg Laying Dates from 2017.

Leicester Peregrines – The Story So Far

In February 2014, a collaboration 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.

14 January 2017 – Photo: the male (left) and female on the platform.

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.

5 April 2018 – Photo: The clutch of four eggs was complete.

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.

6 May 2018 – Video: the first chick hatches from the egg.

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.

24 May 2018 – Photo: the two chicks ringed under licence at the Cathedral.

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.

15 June 2018 – Video: juvenile P7D takes it’s first flight – not particularly elegant.

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.

20 June 2018 – Photo: Juveniles P7D (left) and PCF on the roof of St. Martins House.