Bird-lovers' shock at Cromer peregrine death
PUBLISHED: 17:58 06 January 2020 | UPDATED: 18:25 06 January 2020
Chris Skipper 2017
Shocked bird-lovers are mourning the loss of one of Cromer's peregrine falcons, which has been killed on power lines near Holt.
The six-month-old male bird was one of three chicks born to a pair of falcons which took up residence on the top of Cromer Parish Church's 160ft-tall tower last spring, sparking a flurry of interest from all over the region and leading to the setting up of Cromer Peregrine Project.
Project founder member Eddie Anderson said the chick had been discovered near the River Glaven and is thought to have died by flying into high tension electricity cables.
Keen to rule out the possibility that the falcon, which was ringed shortly after hatching, had been killed intentionally or had starved to death, experts carried out tests including X-rays, but the bird was found to have died from a broken neck.
"It obviously just didn't see where it was going," former TV producer and lifelong conservationist Mr Anderson said. "It was clearly in very good condition and the fact that it has been seen about quite a bit and has been able to look after itself is a positive thing."
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Around half of all peregrine chicks died within their first year, Mr Anderson pointed out, so the loss of one of the Cromer brood was not "the end of the world".
"If it had died because was shot or poisoned it would be a completely different story but, although I don't want to play it down, I don't think it is a complete disaster," he said.
As mating season approaches, project leaders and volunteers are now focusing on the Cromer adults, which have been seen performing courtship rituals and could lay a second clutch of eggs by the end of March.
New cameras have been installed in the birds' nesting box at the top of the tower, with an improved viewing area inside the church also in the pipeline.
However, the lost chick will be not be forgotten, Mr Anderson said, as it will be stuffed and put on display, while some of its feathers will be kept for genetic tracking.
"Cromer has possibly one of the most accessible breeding peregrine pairs in the country," Mr Anderson said. "They've ignored the carnival, they've ignored the New Year fireworks and just got on with their lives and, for me, although what has happened is unfortunate, having these birds on our doorstep is a dream come true."