Leicester Peregrines

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.

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

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Most Recent Activity:

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

22 February – the male flies in briefly at 1:05. He is back at 6:45 and is quickly followed by the female. He goes into the box but soon flies out. She remains on the ledge until 7:10 when she goes into the box to tend the scrape. He joins her at 7:15 and there are a few minutes of chuntering between the pair until she moves to the ledge and he flies out. She leaves at 7:30 and he returns 15 minutes later and makes a scrape on the platform before moving to the ledge at 7:55. He makes two short flights at 8:35 and again at 9:05. He leaves five minutes later, returning at 9:30 with short flights at 9:55, 10:05, 10:55 and 11:00. He flies off at 11:05 returning an hour later for just a few moments. The pair fly in together at 13:05 but they stay less than a minute. This morning’s activity would suggest that there is at least one intruder in the territory. The male is back briefly at 15:00 and is on the ledge at 15:40 taking another short flight at 16:00 returning calling loudly. He is off a few minutes later and back briefly at 16:35. He is then on the ledge again at 17:05 until 17:45 when he takes a short flight before leaving at 17:55. He is back in the dark at 20:10 and goes into the box calling, flying out soon after, then landing on the ledge. He flies off at 20:25 returning briefly at 21:00. He is back in the box at 23:35 and falls asleep remaining until midnight at least.

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.

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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.