Newly-installed nesting box will give peregrine falcon pair a bird's eye view from Norfolk's tallest church tower
PUBLISHED: 18:33 10 April 2019 | UPDATED: 20:26 10 April 2019
A pair of peregrine falcons have taken up residence on top of Norfolk’s tallest church tower, attracting a flock of a bird watchers waiting with bated breath to see if they will breed.
When North East Norfolk Bird Club chairman Trevor Williams heard a call he instantly recognised as a peregrine while visiting Cromer a few months ago, he was thrilled to see a pair of the rare birds sitting at the top of the town’s 160ft-tall church tower.
“There were quite a few sightings after that, then everything went quiet,” the former prison governor explained. “But when we had a lot of reports in early March, with several people saying the birds had been seen mating, we started to get excited.”
Because peregrine falcons do not build nests and have been known to lay their eggs onto concrete if a suitable site is not available, Mr Williams and his fellow club members knew they had to act fast, and quickly arranged a site visit with the Hawk and Owl Trust and Cromer Parochial Church Council.
“We realised we had no time to lose and, literally overnight, we sourced a nesting box from the trust and got it ready to install,” Mr Williams said.
Struggling to negotiate the narrow spiral staircase of the tower with the cumbersome box, the team were forced to saw it in half and reassemble it at the top.
The church tower, which is usually open to the public, has been closed off to prevent the birds being disturbed, with a screen allowing church visitors to see video footage from the nesting box.
“A motion detector has already registered 800 movements and the peregrines have been seen coming in and out of the box so, hopefully, we might get some eggs,” Mr Williams said.
If the birds do breed, bird club members hope to install a larger screen and set up a manned watch point outside neighbouring Cromer Museum.
“If we do get eggs, these will potentially be only the second viewable pair of peregrine falcons in the whole of Norfolk, which is pretty exciting,” Mr Williams said.
Hawk and Owl Trust project officer Zoe Smith, who has worked on the charity’s urban peregrine project at Norwich Cathedral for the past three years, said the Cromer peregrines had provided a boost for the church and the town.
She added: “We were really pleased when we checked back on the box and saw the birds displaying courtship behaviour and, although it is getting late in the season, we are still hopeful they will lays eggs this year.”