Grant pays for 50 new volunteers to collect data on falcons across Norfolk

The peregrines should be returning to Norwich Cathedral in May. Picture: Steve Plume.

The peregrines should be returning to Norwich Cathedral in May. Picture: Steve Plume. - Credit: Archant

Fifty new volunteers are being taken on to collect data on peregrine falcon behaviour, diet, prey and breeding activities, across Norfolk.

The Hawk and Owl Trust has received a grant of £86,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help people explore the challenges facing the falcons.

A watchpoint at Norwich cathedral has provided a window into their world and shown how the birds of prey have increasingly adapted to survive in an urban environment within close proximity to humans.

The boost in volunteer power will enable other potential nesting spots to be monitored and increase the information shared with communities and online.

Since the cathedral platform was set up by the trust in 2011, an average of four chicks have been born each year, with a 50pc survival rate.

The watchpoint attracts more than 30,000 people each year to observe the birds in Cathedral Close.

Nigel Middleton, trust conservation officer, said: 'Volunteers will be working across Norfolk, as well as at the watchpoint at the cathedral. We will start our winter roost watch in the Autumn, recording peregrine falcons across the county.'

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Elsewhere, Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, near Fakenham, has been awarded £53,500 to create a new river hide overlooking a newly created reed bed and a new pond-dipping facility.

It will be the final piece in the long-term project to restore a 3km stretch of the River Wensum, which has, until now, been carried out away from the public gaze.

Reserve manager Richard Spowage said: 'It will be the first time in 10 years we have been able to open up a new part of the 700-acre Pensthorpe estate to visitors.'

It is hoped the hide will be ready for the summer holidays, although it will be next year before the pond-dipping facility had matured enough to use.

Altogether, more than £300,000 has been awarded to projects in the East by the HLF.

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of HLF East of England, said: 'We're pleased to support these projects which will equip people of all ages with the skills – and the inspiration to appreciate, celebrate and protect our wonderful natural heritage.'

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