People can follow the daily lives of a pair of wild peregrine falcons in Leicester city centre thanks to a new nest box webcam in the Cathedral spire.
The camera has been fitted into a purpose-built nest at Leicester Cathedral to record the activities and nesting habits of the resident peregrine couple.
A live feed can also be watched online as part the Leicester Peregrine Project website at http://leicesterperegrines.org.uk/streaming/
The project is run by Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society (LROS) and Leicester City Council and aims to promote the presence of peregrines within the city environment and help ensure their conservation.
Peregrine sightings have been recorded in Leicester for the past 30 years, with more regular sightings over the last decade. Nest boxes have been installed across the city, in locations known to be favoured by the peregrines.
The Leicester Cathedral nest box was installed in April 2016. Its location, high on the Cathedral’s 60 metre spire, provides an ideal urban alternative to the high, steep cliffs the falcons use in the wild.
The live feed has shown the pair of peregrines – a female and a male – visiting the nest box regularly over the past fortnight.
Richard Kelly, nature conservation officer at Leicester City Council, said: “Leicester Cathedral is proving to be a perfect nesting location for the city’s peregrines.
“The webcam provides a bird’s eye view of the daily activities from inside the nest box. It’s provided a really interesting new way to observe this beautiful bird.
“There’s a really good chance that visitors to the webpage will see the female peregrine. She’s been braving the chilly winds and putting in regular stints on the ledge of the nest box, often preening for hours at a time.”
Jim Graham, president of the Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society, said: “This is a really exciting development in the Leicester Peregrine Project. People from across the world will now be able to share the daily story of these birds.
“It also provides us with the opportunity to study the birds’ behaviour, improve our knowledge and understanding of how they live and help ensure their conservation.”
The Revd Canon Alison Adams, Canon Pastor and Sub-Dean of Leicester Cathedral, said: “We are delighted that the peregrines continue to flourish and hope very much that this year they might produce offspring and the webcam will enable everyone to enjoy seeing fledglings growing.
“It is especially interesting that the words peregrine and pilgrim come from the same root word – the Latin ‘peregrinus’, meaning foreigner. As a place of pilgrimage and of welcome for all in our community, including refugees and asylum seekers, the Cathedral is a most poignant home for the peregrines.”
Regular ‘peregrine watch’ events are held in Cathedral Gardens as part of the project. Members of the public are welcome to attend. The next peregrine watch is due to take place on Wednesday 14 February, from 9.30am.