Popular peregrines give town's church a bird's eye bonus
- Credit: Chris Skipper
Cromer’s much-loved peregrine falcons proved a huge hit when they took up residence at the top of the town’s 160ft-tall church tower last spring.
People travelled from all over the country to catch a glimpse of the breeding pair and their chicks.
However, with the church closed during the first lockdown, falcon fans were unable to follow the comings and goings of the birds on the screen inside the entrance – until wildlife photographer and Cromer Peregrine Project founder member Chris Skipper came up with a solution.
“It’s been a very strange year for all of us, but, just before lockdown, I managed to get the cameras hooked up to YouTube, so the unfolding season could be viewed by the massive following the peregrines have now got,” he explained.
The live stream of the peregrines quickly attracted birdwatchers from all over the world, clocking up viewing figures of more than 173,000.
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“With everyone staying at home, it really took off,” Mr Skipper said.
The birds produced a clutch of three eggs, all of which hatched on May 2 - a poignant day for Mr Skipper and his partner and fellow peregrine fan Kim Paul, who he proposed to at the top of Norwich Cathedral.
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“That was the day we should have been getting married,” he explained. “And, although we have had to rearrange the wedding for next June, the three chicks did really well and all of them successfully fledged, which was great.”
Keen to support the church, Mr Skipper, who has previously produced books of photographs of the Norwich and the Cromer birds, had some peregrine mugs, calendars and souvenirs made, which were sold at town centre gift shop Upstairs Downstairs.
Along with donations, the sale of the merchandise enabled Cromer Peregrine Project to hand over a cheque for £2,500 to the vicar of Cromer, Rev Will Warren, last week.
“It was good to be able to give some much-needed help to the church, which had been shut for so long,” Mr Skipper said.
Project members eventually hope to reinstate the watchpoint outside Cromer Museum, and welcome falcon fans back to the church.
“The birds have been displaying on the nesting box already and it’s all looking good for 2021,” Mr Skipper said.