The Hawk and Owl Trust installed a nest platform in 2010 for the Peregrine Falcons which appeared on Norwich Cathedral in 2009. They have nested successfully each year. Two cameras transmit images of the day-to-day activities of the pair of falcons as they raise their young. Through our website the Peregrines have been viewed world-wide. They are famous and right on our doorstep for the people of Norwich to relish. By 24th February 2015 the falcon had laid the third of her clutch
The spectacle of Peregrines and Wigeon so vividly brought to life by Mark Cocker in his book “Claxton”, inspired my friend, Nigel Middleton and I to visit Buckenham marshes across the river from Mark’s village. We parked by Buckenham railway station which gave us an excellent view of the marshes either side of the river Yare. In the background was Cantley sugar beet factory. In front of it was a large reed bed which led to the wide expanse of fresh water grazing marshes in front of us. They were broken up by drainage channels which lead into the river. There were many gates and rails marking the passage from one meadow to another. The grass was cropped very close.
Through our binoculars we could see hundreds of Wigeon grazing on the edge of the channels. The handsome drakes with their chestnut heads and sulphur coloured crests, pink breast feathers, immaculate grey bodies and black and white tail feathers stood out against the rather sombre, dark brown ducks. The drakes from time to time were calling “wheeeow”, the ducks replying with a guttural churring call. Feeding alongside them were Teal, Redshank, Snipe, Lapwing, Egret and Heron. High above, a pair of Common Buzzards soared under a crystal clear blue sky.
This idyllic scene was interrupted by Nigel: “Marsh Harrier!” It was a male about 50 feet up, flying directly towards us. All of the Wigeon’s heads shot up in alarm. “Peregrine!” shouted Nigel. The Peregrine, a male, was skimming the channel, wings pumping hard. Everything that had been feeding so peacefully shot off in different directions. The Peregrine made a dash but muffed it. The clouds of Wigeon were now circling over head, calling anxiously, as the Peregrine flew to perch on gate. It shook its feathers and settled down to preen. What a day!
That evening the male Peregrine brought in a Teal to the nest platform on Norwich Cathedral where the falcon was incubating her clutch of eggs. Was it too much to imagine that it might have been the same male Peregrine that we saw on Buckenham marshes chasing Wigeon earlier in the day? Ten miles, as the Peregrine flies, from there to Norwich Cathedral is a doddle.
The last egg of the clutch of four hatched today. The falcon and her four chicks are doing well. I visited the “watch point” on the green in the Cathedral Close as Nigel Middleton and his team of Hawk and Owl Trust volunteers were erecting the marquee. On CCTV I was able to watch the falcon keeping the four chicks warm while the male chased off a Herring Gull who ventured just too close to the Cathedral spire.
Sad news. The fourth chick died overnight. The wind has been howling round the nest platform and it was not strong enough to withstand the cold.