Peregrines back in Suffolk

SUFFOLK'S A14 could be the road to East Anglian recovery for one of the world's most spectacular birds of prey.Amid the busy transport artery's thunderous roar of thousands of lorries and the almost incessant drone of countless cars, a peregrine falcon is sitting on four precious eggs, under the Orwell Bridge - and it's the first time for centuries the species has bred in the county.

SUFFOLK'S A14 could be the road to East Anglian recovery for one of the world's most spectacular birds of prey.

Amid the busy transport artery's thunderous roar of thousands of lorries and the almost incessant drone of countless cars, a peregrine falcon is sitting on four precious eggs, under the Orwell Bridge - and it's the first time for centuries the species has bred in the county.

As the traffic trundles just a few feet above her, the female falcon is sitting tight in a nest on one of the bridge's supporting piers, unaware of the immense significance that surrounds her and her partner's attempt to bring new life into the avian world.

When the pair chose the bridge as their home they made conservation history. It was about 200 years ago that peregrines last bred in Suffolk.

The 200 wait has been worth it for local conservationists. They have had their hopes raised in the past but now they are finally being realised.

Steve Piotrowski, president of the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group and ornithological adviser to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: “Peregrines normally nest on sheer rock faces in mountainous areas but, in recent years, with better protection and conservation measures in place, they have been increasingly venturing into towns and cities to nest on high-rise buildings, power stations, electricity pylons and the like. It is perhaps not surprising they have chosen to nest on Suffolk's highest structure - the Orwell Bridge.

Most Read

“The Suffolk Ornithologists Group campaigned tirelessly to have a nest box erected in the hope that breeding would take place and one was put up on the bridge in the early 1990s.

“The group's success was largely down to one of our members, Gary Lowe, and we and the birds are now indebted to him.”

Mr Lowe, of Boyton, near Woodbridge, worked for Ipswich Borough Council's estates department at the time but was also a council park ranger.

With a foot in both “camps”, he negotiated with the Department of Transport over the provision of the box as a compensatory measure for a compound placed on the council's Pipers Vale public open space related to works on the bridge. The nest box the peregrines are using is the original one, paid for by the department.

Mr Lowe said: “The news that the peregrines are breeding in the box is fantastic. It has been a long wait but it's worth it, especially if the peregrines manage to raise some young to the fledging stage.

“I hope it's the start of a more widespread recolonisation in Suffolk as peregrines are such magnificent birds and they have had some lean times in the past.”