Beautiful pictures have emerged of Chichester Cathedral’s peregrine chicks after they were ringed and sexed on Tuesday (May 17).
A small team ascended 208 steps and 130ft to the base of the cathedral spire, where then expert from the Sussex Ornithological Society, Graham Roberts, made a further climb to where the peregrines are nesting to fit special identifying rings to the chicks legs.
These rings have no ill effect on the rare birds, but allow conservationists to monitor them throughout their lives.
Sara Humphrey, RSPB communications officer, said: “We are delighted to announce that the pair have produced three males and a female, which are all fit and healthy.
“It’s great to see how involved people have been with their story, voting on the gender of the chicks on twitter and viewing them through our online webcam after visiting.”
“It’s a really accessible way for people to get closer to nature.”
So as not to cause the chicks too much distress, two chicks at a time were placed in fabric bags and lowered on ropes to the team down below at the base of the spire.
Graham then descended to ring the chicks, measuring their wingspan and the size of their heads.
The chicks were also weighed in a small fabric hammock. All went well and the chicks – all 21 days old – are fit and healthy.
The information from the rings gives valuable insights into the behaviour of a species – one of the male chicks born at Chichester Cathedral in 2015 has since been spotted almost 70 miles away, in Durlston Country Park, Dorset.
The ringing also enables the team to establish the sex of the chicks – three males and a female.
As part of the RSPB’s free Date with Nature event, visitors have been able to view the chicks from a special platform in the Cloisters Cafe, on a live HD webcam.
Once the chicks have started fledging, the RSPB will move out onto the cathedral lawns, where visitors can watch the youngsters being taught to fly and hunt.
Live footage of the peregrines can be viewed on the RSPB website at: rspb.org.uk/datewithnature/146937-chichester-cathedral-peregrines or on the cathedral website chichestercathedral.org.uk
The RSPB Date with Nature event runs until Sunday 10th July 2016.