More photos of the peregrine falcons at Ely Cathedral

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:20 16 June 2020

Peregrines have been settling in more man-made structures, like industrial buildings, churches and high-rise buildings. Two have made Ely Cathedral their home. Image: prc-photography

Peregrines have been settling in more man-made structures, like industrial buildings, churches and high-rise buildings. Two have made Ely Cathedral their home. Image: prc-photography

Paul Constable

More photographs are shared of the peregrine falcons that have set up home at Ely Cathedral.

Wildlife photographer Paul Constable captured the peregrines that have set up home at Ely Cathedral carrying their prey. Image: prc-photographyWildlife photographer Paul Constable captured the peregrines that have set up home at Ely Cathedral carrying their prey. Image: prc-photography

Peregrines usually nest on rocky cliff edges, their young eggs resting precariously without any nesting material to protect and support them.

But last week it was revealed that two set up home in the tower of Ely Cathedral last year - and it seems they’re here to stay.

A blog post on the cathedral’s website said: “Last year two peregrines set up nest on the roof top of Ely Cathedral, we have remained very quiet about their arrival for the past year in order to give them a chance to settle in and to see if they were going to nest and make the cathedral their home.

“We are delighted to say that they appear to have done just that!”

Flying over Ely. One of the peregrines that have made Ely Cathedral their home. Image: prc-photographyFlying over Ely. One of the peregrines that have made Ely Cathedral their home. Image: prc-photography

The peregrine is the fastest bird on Earth and has been recorded flying at speeds just under 250mph. These birds of prey have previously been close to extinction in the UK because of pesticide use and hunting.

They can grow up to half a metre in length and have a wingspan of over a metre. Their life expectancy is between 15 and 18 years, and they can breed from around two years of age.

While they can be found around the world, in the UK they tend to breed in Scotland, Wales, the north and south-west of England and coastal areas of Northern Ireland.

More recently, they’re choosing to breed in larger cities and are nesting in man-made structures like industrial buildings, churches and high-rise buildings.

The peregrine has an incredible wing span and can reach speeds of up to 250 mph. Image: prc-photographyThe peregrine has an incredible wing span and can reach speeds of up to 250 mph. Image: prc-photography

Mike Willis, of Fens Falconry based at Wisbech St Mary, said: “It isn’t uncommon to see peregrines in cities now, they’ve adapted really quickly to urban surroundings.

“For example they usually hunt at dawn or dusk but street lights mean they now catch prey at night in the city.”

He added: “They’re really incredible birds of prey. A peregrine’s eyesight is so good, it can spot a tennis ball 3km away in fog.”

They also travel vast distances outside nesting season, and successive generations of the same family have been known to use the same site for hundreds of years.

Two peregrines have set up home in the tower of Ely Cathedral. Photo Credit Simon StirrupTwo peregrines have set up home in the tower of Ely Cathedral. Photo Credit Simon Stirrup

Peregrines are now protected by laws which are reinforced by European legislation known as the Nature Directives.

Visitors to Ely Cathedral have been asked to refrain from flying drones in the area because it will disturb the birds. It is hoped a webcam can be set up for anyone who would like to see the birds close up.

The post added: “We hope that they continue to nest in the Cathedral’s towers for years to come and hope to be able to set up a webcam so we can all enjoy watching these magnificent birds whilst not disturbing them.”


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