Pairing of peregrine falcons spotted breeding in Christchurch

Peregrine Falcons make a breeding attempt on Christchurch Priory, in a landmark occasion for the city.

The Christchurch Harbor Ornithological Group (CHOG) said it was the first time peregrine falcons had attempted to breed around the Priory, although the bird of prey is a regular sight.

CHOG Chairman Dr Chris Chapleo said, “This is a landmark occasion for the city and we hope this attempt will be successful and the first of many.

“As soon as the breeding was suspected, we contacted the management of the Priory and their response and sensitivity to the situation was incredible.

“We would like to thank everyone involved.”

The male bird, identified by a blue ring on his leg with the letters ‘VA’, hatched in 2018 on Bournemouth College’s clock tower in Lansdowne and has been recorded frequently around Christchurch ever since.

Peregrine falcons nearly disappeared in the UK in the 1960s, mainly due to human persecution and pesticides in the food chain.

The RSPB estimate that there are 1,500 breeding pairs of peregrine falcons in the UK and they can have a wingspan of up to 115cm.

The bird of prey species is relatively new to the south, with the falcon having migrated to southern England over the past two decades.