Wymondham Abbey, a beautiful old twin towered building in a tranquil setting looking out onto the green pastures of a meadow, vegetation hiding foundations of monastery buildings that time has forgot.
All day and evening when the weather is nice, Wymondhams’ locals walk through the churchyard, some with dogs, some with loved ones, some alone, some with ministry work to do hurrying by, all of them passing the lone photographer standing and staring into space.
Some stop to chat, and soon realise I am there for one thing, to try and get some shots of the predator above, the Peregrine Falcon.
It is hard to imagine a nicer way to while away some time than in the confines of the Abbey whilst waiting for a glimpse of the prize, and unusually for wildlife photography you don’t have to be hidden away and camouflaged either, just patience required. As time passes, 4 buzzards drift over on a thermal with a lone Sparrowhawk for company, and later another Sparrowhawk with a damaged leg flys by. There is plenty to keep you occupied as you wait, but still I am impatient to see the main act.
As you stare into the heavens at the top of the ruined East tower, suddenly there she is, Queen of all she surveys as she lands on the gargoyle and looks out over the meadow, as you realise that all the birds filling the trees around, crows, magpies, pigeons, jackdaws etc. are just one thing to the Peregrine, PREY!
A close look round near the bottom of the towers in the grass will reveal the gory truth that you are in the presence of one of nature’s top predators, as you find magpie wings, crows legs and pigeons heads, as well as many feathers around.
It’s a privilege to stand and watch her through my 500mm lens, watching for her to start head bobbing which usually means she is about to take off, and then getting some photos of her soaring through the sky and flying through the ruined tower. Sometimes she sits on top of the tower and starts a strange clucking noise when she detects another falcon around, and then she takes off and has a fly around together. Locals tell me they have seen 2 falcons together on the tower now and then, so hopefully they will pair up and use the nest box on the West tower provided by the Hawk and Owl trust, maybe next year?
I’ll keep visiting the Abbey from time to time to check on her, and in the meantime take a few visits to Norwich Cathedral to see the nesting pair there, and hopefully some chicks when the eggs hatch. We are very lucky to be able to observe these birds from relatively close quarters, so I can only suggest that we all take the chance and get out there and look up!