York Minster peregrines ‘lay eggs’

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THE PAIR of peregrine falcons nesting on York Minster are believed to have now laid a clutch of eggs.

Since November the birds of prey have occupied the North Tower of the historic place of worship, attracting wildlife lovers and capturing the imagination of visitors and residents.

Peregrines on York Minster have now laid a clutch of eggs.  Pic: Robert Fuller

Peregrines on York Minster have now laid a clutch of eggs. Pic: Robert Fuller

While staff at the Minster said they were unable to concern conclusively that the birds had now produced eggs, they did say that they “strongly suspected” as much.

Wildlife artist Robert Fuller, who has been observing the nest for some time is more certain, and said there was definitely a clutch of eggs in the bell tower after he noticed the male and female engage in what he described as a “nest change over”.

Mr Fuller, who is based at Thixendale, North Yorkshire, said: “I saw the male hunting over the main tower of the Minster. He caught a pigeon, partially plucked it ready to present to the female and then circled the tower calling until the female came out. He passed the pigeon to her and then flew into the nest in order to take over incubating.

“This means the pair are definitely sitting on eggs. These eggs are very late, normally peregrines lay eggs in early April, if not before, so at last the speculation over whether they would lay is over. I just hope the young go on to hatch successfully.

Pic: Robert Fuller

Pic: Robert Fuller

“This is such good news for York. People can now go into the city for a spot of shopping and then go and see the fastest bird in the world nesting on one of Yorkshire’s most magnificent buildings,” he said.

The female peregrine normally lays three to four eggs with both birds sharing incubation, a process which usually takes around 29-32 days per egg.

According to Minster staff, local people have grown fond of the resident peregrines which have become affectionately known as ‘Mr and Mrs Minster’.

Scheduled maintenance work on the North Tower has been postponed to avoid disturbing them and will only resume when the birds have left the site.

Pic: Jack Ashton-Booth

Pic: Jack Ashton-Booth

The peregrines are best viewed through long lens cameras from Dean’s Park, behind the Minster.