Two peregrine falcon eggs laid at Salisbury Cathedral as webcam goes live

210323 Peregrine Falcons Salisbury Cathedral
The male and female peregrine seen courting on the webcam Credit: Salisbury Cathedral

Two peregrine falcon eggs have been laid at Salisbury Cathedral as the annual webcam monitoring the birds goes live.

Slightly ahead of the planned livestream launch date, at around 6:45pm on March 17, the first egg was laid.

The second egg followed at around 1:20am yesterday morning (March 20). The nesting pair can be watched via three cameras on the South Tower balcony.

Two of the cameras are set up to catch the action in the nest box, and one is at the other end of the balcony.

This spot has been dubbed the ‘larder’ because that is where the adult peregrines often store spare food.

The peregrine is the UK's biggest falcon, and among the fastest animals on the planet -reaching speeds of up to 200 miles per hour when 'stooping'. They dive down on their prey from a great height.

The cathedral is also reopening its Peregrine Facebook Group and admitting new members to share stories and footage for the year.

Resident experts Phil Sheldrake and Granville Pictor will be on hand to answer any questions, while Granville will also be blogging again this year.

Two eggs were laid over the weekend Credit: Salisbury Cathedral

Phil said: “It is good to see the peregrines back and laying. Being able to watch the breeding process like this is a great way of involving people in wildlife conservation and the natural world.

"It’s great to see that the Cathedral is extending its environmental programme to include wildflower planting, a giant bug Cathedral, bat and bird boxes and the Queens Green Canopy trees planted on Marsh Close. Every little bit helps and encourages others to do the same."

To date, 27 peregrine chicks have fledged from the Tower and thanks to their colour rings (or Darvic rings) the cathedral has been able to keep track of some of them: "We’d love to hear from anyone who thinks they have spotted one of our falcons.

"Just check the letters on the colour ring on their left leg. Salisbury peregrines from 2014-2020 will have a blue ring. Salisbury peregrines after 2021 carry orange rings.

"The adult peregrines currently nesting on the South Tower balcony have been visiting the site regularly over winter, and we caught them earlier this month engaging in courtship behaviour such as bowing.

"When the male ‘bows’ to the female lifting his tail and keeping his head down - and scraping - when the birds dig out the nest box gravel with their feet to create a dip.

"There have also been some spectacular courtship flights up and around the Spire. Now that eggs have been laid, Cathedral Close visitors may still see both peregrines out and about for a while.

"But once the female starts to incubate the eggs, the adults will take it in turns to sit on them, so you’ll only ever see one at a time. The nest box action is also relayed to a screen in the West Cloister."