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Last modified: 29 June 2012
Image: Graham Catley
They’ve intrigued and entertained us since Easter with sky-high dramas, nerve-wracking hatchings, uncertainty over the chicks’ gender and perilous first flights, but the Date with Nature project at Chichester Cathedral is nearly over for another year.
The RSPB, who run the project, will soon be switching off the nest camera and packing up their binoculars and telescopes, so if you haven’t yet seen the four youngsters as they practice their flying and hunting skills above the skies of Chichester – hurry down to the Cathedral before the 8th July.
Molly Dailide, project officer for the RSPB said: “We have been absolutely blown away by people’s interest in the peregrines. We have had thousands of people visit this year and considering the weather of the past couple of months to get such a huge turnout has been overwhelming and shows the affection people have for these amazing birds.”
The weather added its own drama this year. When the chicks hatched during the storms at the end of April, there was a worry the parents might not be able to hunt for food or keep their new arrivals warm. But these experienced parents succeeded where some other parings around the UK sadly failed.
Molly Continued: “We may be packing up for another year but the young peregrines’ stories have just begun. As their wings get stronger, mum and dad will take them further away and by late July and August we expect them to be going down to the coast, to improve their hunting skills.
“They will probably stay together until the autumn. In the evenings, you will still be able to see them all perched up on the cathedral like one big happy family, watching the town below.
“The juveniles are not likely to start heading off on their own until late September. At this point, Dad will return to his bachelor life on top of the cathedral and Mum will spend a bit of her time on her own – she’ll need it after all this.
“In winter she’ll pop back occasionally, just to check he’s still around. Then next February or March she’ll return, and they’ll start the whole process again. “
This is the 12 year the peregrine pair has bred on top of the Cathedral, in a nestbox provided by the Sussex Ornithological Society. Successfully raising a total of 42 chicks, they are one of the most successful monitored nests in the UK.
The RSPB will be at Chichester Cathedral until Sunday July 8 – drop in and say goodbye. For more information visit www.rspb.org.uk/datewithnature