WINCHESTER Cathedral staff have been busy picking up the resident peregrines as they learn to fly.

The chicks are beginning to understand their capabilities – but have fallen from the gully as they begin to spread their wings.

Keith Betton, chairman and county recorder of the Hampshire Ornithological Society, has been watching.

He told the Chronicle: "On Friday (June 5), our first peregrine to fly did so slightly ahead of schedule when it slipped from the gully wall and ended up on the grass below the Rose Window.

"One of the Cathedral staff carefully returned it back up to the gully .... only for it to fall off again a few minutes later.

"Yet again it was taken back up to safety when it or another was blown down to the grass. After the third rescue these birds started to understand their capabilities a bit better and those that departed afterwards managed to land on nearby ledges, although one spent an age on a steeply sloping wall."

By Saturday (June 6), four of the chicks had gone from the nest site leaving just one on its own.

Mr Betton added: "Winnie did not ignore it and provided food while it worked out what to do next.

"That chick has now made its first move too. We know that at least four chicks managed to reach places of relative safety and the parents were keeping watch while much of this chaos was unfolding.

"Indeed, plenty of well-wishers were watching too from the Cathedral perimeter including 15-year-old Harvey Webb who was lucky to be close to where one of the chicks landed on the grass."

Over the next week the chicks will become stronger fliers.

They will stay close to the cathedral but they may follow their parents over to the former St Thomas's Church on occasions.