WINCHESTER'S newest resident falcons are set to take their first flights within the week.

The five peregrine chicks, all around four weeks old, are exploring the gully on top of the cathedral and exercising their wings.

Keith Betton, chairman and county recorder for the Hampshire Ornithological Society, said: "The five chicks are all doing well and have transformed in just a week from white balls of fluff to feathered beings. They are keen to exercise their wings and this morning the first one to be brave has managed to get up onto the gully wall. "These are risky times and this is when they are most at risk from falling or getting trapped in a place from which there is no escape. Their inquisitive minds can get them into trouble. "The first flights will be any day now, and in a week or two the parents will start to train them in hunting skills, flying past with food and taunting the chicks to follow to try and catch the dangling food.

"Don't worry if you can't see any peregrine chicks. They are busy exploring their surroundings and the gully allows them to disappear around the corner out of sight. The birds appear one minute and are gone the next."

Last week, the birds were all given leg rings.

Mr Betton added: "Each bird has an orange plastic ring with three large letters that you can often see using a telescope or telephoto lens. There are three males and two females."

This list shows what gender the birds are in relation to their leg rings:

  • PZJ - female
  • PSJ - female
  • PAL - male
  • PXJ - male
  • PVY - male (the youngest)

Click on the photo gallery at the top to view Lee Sayers' fantastic shot of a Winchester peregrine bringing back its prey.