Wild Marlow welcomes new Peregrine Falcon chicks at All Saints’ Church

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Marlow’s peregrine falcon pair, nicknamed Marly and Roy after Marlow’s twin town, has successfully hatched four chicks at the base of the spire of All Saints’ Church near Marlow Bridge.

Wild Marlow, the local wildlife group, has been instrumental in the success of the pair, which was first seen in November 2019. Through 2020 the peregrines were seen regularly at the location, prompting Wild Marlow to install a specially designed nesting platform for them in February this year, together with a camera system to monitor their progress. Mating behaviour was spotted during March, and four eggs arrived in early April, during the Easter weekend.

Since then Marly has patiently incubated the eggs while Roy has been bringing her food, and to the delight of all, all four eggs hatched successfully. With film footage covering every moment, a fascinating record of their behaviour has been created and clips have been watched with interest on Wild Marlow’s Facebook page.

“All the chicks seem to be doing well,” Verity West of Wild Marlow said. “It’s brilliant that we’ve been able to watch the parents bringing the first food in for the chicks. This is such good news for them and for everyone who loves wildlife. They’ve a tough journey ahead of them, but we will be keeping everything crossed for them.”

Peregrines are super-speedy. Among the fastest animals on the planet, they can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour when ‘stooping’ — diving down on prey from a great height. They usually capture their prey mid-air, taking birds like feral pigeons and collared doves.

The peregrine falcon is a Schedule 1 protected species under The Wildlife and Countryside Act and is the UK’s biggest falcon. This highest level of protection is essential to ensure the conservation of the peregrine.

The camera monitoring system at the church has been generously donated by Blue Chip Security Ltd: https://www.bluechipsecurity.co.uk/

Bisham Nest Box Group constructed the nesting platform and their details can be found here: https://www.bnbg.org.uk/

For more information on peregrine falcons go to:
https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/peregrine/
https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/birds/birds-prey/peregrine-falcon

More about the peregrine falcon

The following info is sourced from the RSPB website, click here for link. I

The nest site
Their natural nest site, known as an eyrie, is usually on a grassy or earthen cliff-ledge, quarry or other inaccessible undisturbed location. Buildings and other constructions in towns and cities are increasingly being used.

The nest itself is no more than a slight scrape in earth or old debris on the nest ledge. No material is brought in to build a nest. The female forms the scrape using her chest and feet

Breeding timeline
The female normally lays a clutch of three or four eggs in late March or April at 2-3 day intervals. Apart from brief intervals when food is brought in, the female does all the incubation, which begins with the last or penultimate egg, and takes 31-33 days.

The chicks hatch over a period of a couple of days, meaning there is a smaller size difference between them than chicks of larger raptor species. Most of the brooding and feeding of the small young is carried out by the female, while the male hunts to supply the food. After the first couple of weeks, by which time the chicks can devour food themselves, the female shares the hunting.

The young fledge at about 40 days old, and are independent two or more months later. During this time, the adult peregrines teach the young to hunt and handle prey in flight. Less than a third of young peregrines reach breeding age of two years. Those that do can expect to live 5-6 years. The oldest known UK peregrine was more than 16 years old.

Article author: Paul Merchant

About the author: Founded MyMarlow.co.uk in its original version back in 2000 - yes the internet DID exist back then. Brought up in Marlow, went to school here, now has children at the same schools. Quite clearly loves all things Marlow - hence spending nearly 2 decades doing this!

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