A CHURCH is on a wing and a prayer mission to help give a pair of the country’s most feared birds of ‘pray’ a claw onto the housing ladder.
A total of £3,500 of council taxpayers’ money is being spent to provide a nestbox for a pair of peregrine falcons that have set up home on the tower of St Mary Magdalene Church, in Taunton.
The church has to raise a similar amount for the project, which also involves the installation of a webcam to give people a bird’s eye view of goings on in the nest if the falcons breed next year.
The peregrines have been a talking point in the town since they arrived earlier this summer and bred their chicks.
The vicar of St Mary’s, the Rev Rod Corke, said: “It’s great news and will provide a base for the birds and a webcam so that hopefully we’ll be able to put a feed down to the coffee shop and onto our website if they return to breed again next year.
“There’s evidence that they’ve been chasing off pigeons and seagulls with feathers all over the vicarage lawn. It’s a natural help to us to control the gull and pigeon population.”
The pair of birds – one from Bath, the other from Exeter – are believed to be the first ringed ones in the country to have had young.
St Mary’s has recently undertaken two major fundraising projects – one to replace the old bells, the other, which is ongoing, to repair the organ.
“That means we really have no funders, so we’re going to apply for some more grants,” said Mr Corke.
“If anybody wants to make a contribution they should contact the church.”
The council cash comes from tax levied on the unparished area of Taunton which is targeted at town-specific, community-focused groups and projects.
Cllr Jane Warmington, Taunton Deane Borough Council’s executive member for community leadership, said: “The falcons have become an attraction in their own right and, if they return as expected to St Mary’s, they would have somewhere to nest and rear young.
“The webcam will give people a chance to watch these beautiful birds without disturbing them.
“Of course, there is the practical point that the falcons will help control pigeons and gulls that can be a nuisance.”
The agreed funding will be released once the balance has been raised by the church.
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