December 18 2014 Latest news:
by DAN GRIMMER
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Birdwatchers are hoping to find some unusual Easter eggs at Norwich Cathedral, because a pair of peregrine falcons which have made the historic building’s spire their home have mated.
•Peregrine falcons are mainly found in the south-west of England, Scotland and Ireland. They are also seen throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa and Australasia.
•Their favourite habitat is moorland areas with rocky crags, costal cliffs and they have been found nesting on bridges and power stations.
•A pair of peregrine falcons are currently nesting at a granary site in King’s Lynn
•The birds, which can live up to 15 years, tend to hunt pigeons, wading birds and ducks.
•They can be identified by their dark crown and grey upper parts. Females are larger than males.
•The population of peregrine falcons was decimated during the sixties and seventies due to poisonous pesticides. Since the pesticides were banned, the birds have increased in numbers to nearly 1,500 pairs across the UK.
And everyone is invited to keep a watch on the comings and goings at the unusual nesting platform - some 250ft above the city’s streets - thanks to a webcam installed on the box.
Members of the Hawk and Owl Trust worked with Norwich Cathedral to create the platform after two falcons were spotted flying around the cathedral last year.
A female in her first breeding year and a male were seen mating on the platform, which is one metre long and 60cm wide, in March, so hopes were high for some eggs.
But then the female was ousted by a younger, more dominant female bird, and the original female has not been seen since.
However, David Cobham, vice president of the Hawk and Owl Trust said that, on April 1, the new pair mated and scrapes on the ledge suggest the female might be about to lay some eggs.
He said: “There is a 50pc chance that she will lay eggs, a 50pc chance that they will be fertile and then she has to be able to raise them.
“It might be that the new female is too young, but there will be another opportunity a year from now if not. If she has not had them by the beginning of May, then it is probably not going to happen this year.
“They are fabulous birds, but almost all their nesting sites have been taken up. They usually nest in cliffs and while you might think there would be hundreds of ledges, many are not suitable because they need certain air uplifts so they can land.”
Nigel Middleton, Hawk and Owl Trust conservation officer for the Eastern region, said peregrine falcons generally lay up to four eggs, which are the size of golf balls and an orangey colour.
He said: “If they do breed then they would be the highest breeding birds in Norfolk.”
On Saturday, April 23 and Easter Monday (April 24), the Hawk and Owl Trust is running a watchpoint at the cathedral where they will talk to visitors about the birds and show what they are up to through telescopes.
The project has been sponsored by Archant, publishers of the Evening News, iCode Systems, Larking Gowen, Opticron, SIMM Conveyor Services Ltd and WildSounds. Any other organisations which want to get involved should email firstname.lastname@example.org
• The webcam can be viewed on the Evening News website at www.eveningnews24.co.uk, at www.hawkandowl.org and at www.cathedral.org.uk