Video & Gallery: Rare glimpse into life of peregrine falcons nesting below Orwell Bridge

IPSWICH: These are the amazing glimpses into a world which is rarely seen.

Wildlife photographer David Hermon captured the images during a rare visit to the peregrine falcons’ nesting box under the Orwell Bridge. They show the majestic birds in flight, capturing their prey and bringing it back to feed their four young chicks.

Although the nesting box has been in place since the early 1990s, it was not until 2008 that the birds successfully bred in Suffolk – for the first time in 200 years.

David got the chance to accompany Mick Wright, regional representative for the British Trust for Ornithology, as he embarked on the elaborate task of climbing out of the Orwell Bridge on to the apron of one of the pillars – where the nest box is fitted – and putting numbered rings on each of the two-week old youngsters to help track their progress.

David, 42, said: “I had never seen the peregrine chicks but it was just awe-inspiring.

“When you’re up there, it’s not a photo shoot. Everything has to be done so quickly so I had to have my camera set up and just tried to get a shot as they put them back in the box.

“It was so awesome that I actually forgot to take pictures.”

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David, who recently moved from Felixstowe to Bawdsey, owns a stage lighting business but has been pursuing his wildlife photography seriously for the past seven years.

His amazing snaps have been selected for the BBC Countryfile calendar in 2010, the British Wildlife Photographer Awards in 2009 and won him the title of Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s wildlife photographer three times.

He added: “The peregrines have got to be my favourite because they’re so rare. They’re the fastest birds, and it’s difficult to get a good photograph of them, so it’s the challenge of getting up close.

“I will spend hours here just waiting. I can spend from five in the morning till the sun goes down just watching out for them.

“It’s capturing that moment that keeps me coming back. They’re so fast that to get them catching a pigeon when they’re maybe five miles up in the sky and just drop in an instant is pretty special.

“Those moments are few and far between, so you’re always trying to get that ultimate shot.”

The visit to the nest box was made possible with the help of ecology staff from Atkins, agents for the Highways Agency, who originally installed the box.

Since the birds began nesting there, 11 peregrine falcons have fledged from the nest and it is hoped that another four will fledge this year.

The young birds will soon be able to leave the nest, but they will then be attended by their parents for another two months while they learn how to feed and hunt for themselves.

If anyone comes across a young peregrine falcon on the ground, experts warn that it is best to leave it there as the parents will still keep feeding it. If the bird appears to be in danger from cars or other hazards, please call registered keeper Peter Merchant on 01473 724385 who can help rehabilitate it.

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