ONE of Winchester's peregrine falcons has died.

Chester has fathered 25 chicks to the flying stage with his partner Winnie.

But he leaves behind a young group of chicks which hatched this March.

The rare bird of prey was yesterday discovered deceased by a member of staff at the cathedral.

A spokesperson said: "We were really saddened yesterday when our staff discovered that a Peregrine had died and was found in one of the gullies when doing their rounds.

"It was an adult male and appears to be Chester, who was not seen at all yesterday. We have arranged for a post mortem to be undertaken by a specialist vet – this is normal in such circumstances for rare birds of prey.

"It is natural to worry about the future of the chicks, but Winnie should be able to rear them on her own.

"She is strong and is more than capable of bringing in plenty of food alone especially now that the chicks are getting their feathers and don’t need her to be around as much. Since Chester paired up with Winnie in 2011, he has fathered 25 chicks to the flying stage (15 of these at the Cathedral), so although this news is very sad, he has more than replaced himself on the planet, and has helped his species recover from the days when Peregrines were extremely rare.

"We will continue to monitor the nest to make sure that should Winnie be struggling we can find ways to help out."

Keith Betton, chairman and county recorder of the Hampshire Ornithological Society added: "Like all male Peregrines, he was a bit bashful, keeping out of the way and watching out for any intruders. I have posted one of my shots of him keeping watch – as he did that so well."

The Chronicle will report on the outcome of the post mortem.