Last modified: 24 April 2012
Image: Jacquie Cooper
The first peregrine falcon chick of the year for Chichester Cathedral appeared today [Tuesday 24 April] after several days of anticipation amongst fans.
A total of four eggs were laid over the period of a week at the end of March, so it is expected the other eggs will hatch over the next few days.
Molly Dailide, of the RSPB South East, said: “Watching for the new chicks to appear is one of the highlights of the project. Now the first one has hatched it shouldn’t be long before the others follow so it’s a great time to come along and watch the action.”
Since the RSPB’s Date with Nature project at Chichester Cathedral launched on the 13 April, people have flocked to the viewing area to watch live footage of the pair of peregrines nesting on top. People who go along can also meet RSPB staff and volunteers and find out more about these amazing birds.
Molly continued: “The female is still sitting on the remaining eggs and keeping the new chick protected but she’s moving around a lot and every now and then when she re-arranges herself you catch a glimpse of the chick stretching its pink feet, or some white fluffy down wriggling beneath the female.
“Once the other eggs hatch however, the nest will be bustling with activity as the young battle for attention and food.”
In a few weeks, the only visit to the nest will take place when identifying rings are put on the chicks’ legs and their sex is determined. After that, they begin the daunting task of learning how to fly.
This is the 12th year the peregrine pair has bred on top of the Cathedral, in a nestbox provided by the Sussex Ornithological Society. If all four young fledge successfully, this will bring the total number of chicks raised by the pair to 42.
Last year, more than 24,000 people visited the RSPB's viewpoint at the Cathedral to watch the famous pair hatch eggs, feed chicks and teach young how to fly.
The RSPB will be based at the Cathedral until 8 July, offering people a rare chance to watch the birds at close range without disturbing them. Entrance to the Cathedral and use of the viewing equipment are free of charge.
At first, the project is based at the Cathedral’s Cloisters Café. Then from the beginning of June, when the young are starting to learn to fly, the RSPB will move out onto the Cathedral Green.
Live footage from the nest camera is now being broadcast at: http://www.rspb.org.uk/datewithnature/146937-chichester-cathedral-peregrines. Online viewers can also read updates and see new photos and footage at the project’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/chi.peregrines and on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ChiPeregrines.