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Falcon followers swoop in to help charitable church

PUBLISHED: 16:13 04 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:13 04 November 2019

At the presentation of a cheque for �2,000 to Cromer Parish Church from the Cromer Peregrine Project, to offset loss of earnings since the church tower has been closed to protect the nesting falcons. From left, Eddie Anderson, Ann Clear, Revd Will Warren, Gavin Fitt, Kim Paul, Chris Skipper,  Zoe Smith and Mike Harmer.  
 Picture: Supplied by Eddie Anderson

At the presentation of a cheque for �2,000 to Cromer Parish Church from the Cromer Peregrine Project, to offset loss of earnings since the church tower has been closed to protect the nesting falcons. From left, Eddie Anderson, Ann Clear, Revd Will Warren, Gavin Fitt, Kim Paul, Chris Skipper, Zoe Smith and Mike Harmer. Picture: Supplied by Eddie Anderson

Archant

A family of peregrine falcons has drawn thousands of visitors to Cromer since they came to the town at the start of the year.

At the presentation of a cheque for �2,000 to Cromer Parish Church from the Cromer Peregrine Project, to offset loss of earnings since the church tower has been closed to protect the nesting falcons. Picture: Supplied by Eddie AndersonAt the presentation of a cheque for �2,000 to Cromer Parish Church from the Cromer Peregrine Project, to offset loss of earnings since the church tower has been closed to protect the nesting falcons. Picture: Supplied by Eddie Anderson

But the presence of the pair at the top of the parish church tower has meant the clergy has had to close the viewing point there to visitors.

To make up for the loss of income from visitors to the tower, the Cromer Peregrine Project has donated £2,000 to the church.

Eddie Anderson, project secretary, said it was only right that the church should benefit from the falcons.

Mr Anderson said: "Local shopkeepers and traders have all benefitted by the increased footfall into town by visitors arriving from all over the county to see the falcons.

The peregrine falcons who have taken up residence at the top of Cromer Parish Church have become a popular attraction. This image, of one of the flacons, is included in a book by Chris Skipper called The Story of the Cromer Peregrines. Picture: Chris SkipperThe peregrine falcons who have taken up residence at the top of Cromer Parish Church have become a popular attraction. This image, of one of the flacons, is included in a book by Chris Skipper called The Story of the Cromer Peregrines. Picture: Chris Skipper

"Well over 8,500 people were counted by the volunteer watchers, and most made donations having had some spectacular views of these otherwise wild raptors."

The male peregrine arrived in January, followed by the female a few weeks later. A box for the falcons was installed at the top of the church tower at the end of March, and soon three chicks were hatched.

Mr Anderson said: "The three young falcons have now departed the town, but their parents, named as Poppy and Henry - after Poppyland and Henry Blogg, Cromer's most famous lifeboatman - are still occupying the church, and keeping the local pigeon population under control.

"It is expected they will remain all winter and begin courtship and mating in February.

The peregrine falcons who have taken up residence at the top of Cromer Parish Church have become a popular attraction. This image, of one of the flacons, is included in a book by Chris Skipper called The Story of the Cromer Peregrines. Picture: Chris SkipperThe peregrine falcons who have taken up residence at the top of Cromer Parish Church have become a popular attraction. This image, of one of the flacons, is included in a book by Chris Skipper called The Story of the Cromer Peregrines. Picture: Chris Skipper

"All those involved are hoping for a repeat performance in 2020."

The money was raised by donations collected at a watch point set up in front of Cromer Museum.

Further funds came from the sale of Cromer falcon mugs, fridge magnets, coasters and key rings, all featuring photographs of the falcons taken by Chris Skipper.

Mr Skipper has also produced a book, The Story of the Cromer Peregrines, with all proceeds going to the project.

Peregrines can reach speeds of up to 200mph (322kph) when they swoop on their prey in mid-air in a move known as a 'stoop'.

A CCTV monitor has been set up inside the church's lounge, so that visitors can watch the birds on their nesting tray.

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