During the last couple of decades, breeding Peregrine falcons have become synonymous with urban sites as their numbers have recovered from the crash in the 1960s due to pesticides. With many coastal sites occupied the birds have taken to our cities especially when encouraged by local groups. Although there have been occasional reports of Peregrines in Taunton over the years it wasn’t until 2017 that a pair were noticed and heard on the tower of Taunton Minster.
Both birds carried blue leg bands which indicated that they originated from sites in the South-West of England under a ringing programme coordinated by Ed Drewitt and Hamish Smith. The larger female was ringed “JY” “Bulletina” was born in 2015 in Bath and was ringed on 26 May 2015. The male was “JN”“Bullet” was born in 2015 in Exeter and was ringed on 21 May 2015.
Clearly the birds had bonded, breeding was a real possibility and so a decision was made to start the Taunton Peregrine Project with the aim being to provide a suitable and safe breeding site. The drive for this project came from Michael Leigh-Mallory. Ambitious plans were developed by Mike to not only provided a suitable breeding area on the roof of the Minster tower but also to fix cameras so that everyone could enjoy watching these birds and hopefully the juveniles in years to come. Funding for the equipment came from donations from Somerset Ornithological Society, South West Falcon Buses and individuals via Crowdfunding.
There are now 4 cameras temporarily fitted high on the tower. Two provided coverage on the flat roof looking over the nesting site while the other 2 provide coverage of the Hunky Punks used by the Peregrines for roosting and eating prey. For anyone visiting Taunton to see the Peregrines ,a monitor is provided in the Minster showing the live feed from all 4 cameras.