Birds of prey once on the brink of extinction have been spotted nesting at Charing Cross Hospital for the sixth successive year.
A pair of peregrine falcons, the fastest animals on the planet, have taken up residence in Fulham once more on a top ledge on the East Wing of the hospital building and are currently incubating three eggs.
Nathalie Mahieu runs the FaB (Fulham and Barnes) Peregrines website as well as Twitter and Facebook accounts, which detail the birds’ behaviour and provide a livefeed via a webcam at the nest.
She said: “The cameras were set up by the hospital initially. It was so that we could monitor the birds and their eventual breeding without disturbing them. It also allowed us to observe without drawing too much attention to them and their exact location.
“Peregrine Falcons are protected by law and you are not to publicise their breeding site unless authorised to do so, but we were authorised by Natural England after their first breeding season here.”
Nathalie has been following the peregrines since 2007 when she first spotted the female, which she called Charlie - named after the ‘Char’ of Charing - landing on the hospital.
Charlie has paired with two males since first nesting at the site in 2010. That first year the pair were unsuccessful, however, the hospital, jointly with Dave Morrison of the London Peregrines consultancy, put up a nest box and chicks have successfully fledged every year since.
Charlie paired with one male from 2008-2011, before that bird was ousted by her current partner, called Tom.
Nathalie, 49, who lives in Fulham, can often be found viewing the birds from her telescope in Margravine Cemetery.
She said: “They are special because they are charismatic, beautiful birds. Watching them fly can be breath-taking. They are a protected species and a symbol of a successful conservation effort.”
Charlie and Tom are currently sitting on three eggs, which if they hatch successfully, should fly the nest around late May to early June.