Trust Erected Platform in 2011 on Cathedral Spire to Tempt Recent Arrivals in City
Peregrines started prospecting a nest platform that the Hawk and Owl Trust erected on the historic spire of Norwich’s medieval cathedral in 2011. The charity and cathedral authorities had to reconcile the contrasting needs of nature conservation and architectural conservation to provide a new home for the birds.
Volunteers from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service gave up some of their free time, working with the cathedral’s works foreman, to install the platform through a window in the spire. Great care has been taken of architectural constraints, and the platform had to be specially painted to match the cathedral’s stone.
The magnificent peregrine falcon usually chooses to nest on cliffs or the steep sides of quarries but over the last decade has been increasingly moving into our cities and using man-made structures such as churches, tower blocks and chimneys as nest sites.
Peregrines were seen taking an interest in Norwich Cathedral last year, so the Cathedral Estates Department and the Hawk and Owl Trust began working on a suitable nesting place. Providing a nesting platform was easier said than done, though. The historic fabric of the cathedral had to be protected, not to mention the fact that the site was over 75 metres above the streets of Norwich.
The platform, which is a metre long and 60cm wide, was painted in consultation with the cathedral’s architect, and a rubber-covered metal frame had to be constructed to support it without damaging the building. About 25kg of gravel had to be carried up 318 spiral stone steps and ladder rungs to provide a suitable layer of material for the birds to nest on.
Nigel Middleton, Hawk and Owl Trust Conservation Officer for the Eastern Region said:
“We were delighted to work with Norwich Cathedral to provide a nesting platform for these amazing birds. The peregrine is particularly close to our hearts, indeed it is the Hawk and Owl Trust’s logo. The Trust was founded in 1969 in response to a dramatic decline in the peregrine population. Since then peregrine numbers have recovered and peregrines are demonstrating their ability to adapt by moving into our cities and using tall buildings.”
Phil Thomas, Estates Manager for Norwich Cathedral said: “We are really pleased to be working with the Hawk and Owl Trust on such an exciting project and the Cathedral clergy have been most supportive. After careful consideration with regards to the siting of the nest box and consultation with the Cathedral architect we are delighted that it has been adopted by a pair of peregrines so quickly and hope they become a successful breeding pair for the future and visitors to the Cathedral will be able to enjoy their progress.”
Team members at the cathedral and the Hawk and Owl Trust are beginning to monitor activity on the platform via pictures from video cameras that will record the peregrines’ comings and goings. If the birds decide to lay eggs this year, it is hoped that visitors to the cathedral may be able to see pictures from the platform as well as watch the birds flying above the building. It is also hoped that images will be available via the websites of the Hawk and Owl Trust, Norwich Cathedral and some of the project sponsors.
The project has been generously supported by Archant, iCode Systems, Larking Gowen, M+A Partners, WildSounds, SIMM Conveyor Services Ltd, Contitech UK, LVS – Imas Ltd and in memory of the late Mr. Ray Rogers of Norwich.