Peregrines on the Tower

Good news of new visitors to All Saints! As some of you will already know, a pair of  Peregrines has been roosting on our church tower for the last 3 months.

For those of you who aren’t bird watchers, Peregrine Falcons are spectacular birds of prey, a bit bigger than a pigeon. They feed on other birds – often pigeons – which they chase in the air and are perhaps best known for ‘stooping’ down on their victims at speeds up to 200mph. They characteristically nest on cliffs – but in recent years have found that tall buildings in city centres suit them.  For pictures and more information try https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/peregrine

Peregrines suffered a decline due to persecution and biocides in the 1950s and 60s. However they are now recovering. They are often seen hunting on the Rutland Water Nature Reserve especially in winter, and have nested on Leicester Cathedral, so finding them in Oakham is not so unexpected.

‘Our’ female has an orange ring on her leg and from the letters (PJA), we know she comes from a nest in Derbyshire. The male, who is slightly smaller, is un-ringed.

We are hoping that these peregrines will nest later this spring. Advice has been taken from a local expert Tim Mackrill, who has worked on reintroducing Ospreys to Rutland Water and Poole Harbour, and White-tailed Eagles to the Isle of Wight. A nesting tray has been laid inside the parapet of the tower to encourage the peregrines to nest away from essential tower maintenance. Des Cooke of the Church Fabric Committee and Tower Captain Louis Totaro are liaising to minimise any disturbance to this legally protected species.

You can see the peregrines with the naked eye, but a pair of binoculars gives you spectacular views. They spend a lot of their time between hunts perching on tower gargoyles. Recently they seem to prefer the gargoyles above the big slatted windows on the west side of the tower. Do take care to remain socially distanced and keep yourself safe from traffic if you decide to take a look!

A small working party has been set up to make initial decisions (Des Cooke, Alison Long, Louis Totaro, Adam Lowe, Tim Mackrill, Jane Dell and Sian Cheverton).  If the Peregrines stay, there are plans to form a group ‘Friends of All Saints Peregrines’ to fundraise for a webcam on the nest, and set up a website to publicise their progress. Meanwhile if you have questions about Peregrines in general or the All Saints pair in particular, ask one of us or e-mail office@oakhamteam.org.uk

Sian Cheverton