St John’s Roman Catholic Church, South Parade
Bath, one of Britain’s most famous tourist attractions, is not only one of the best places to view superb Georgian architecture or visit the site an ancient Roman bath, it is also one of the best cities to catch a glimpse of wild peregrines.
Outside the breeding season adult birds and their immature offspring can often to be seen swooping above the rooftops hunting the feral pigeon population, and are often around their nest site on the spire of one of the churches next to Bath police station. During the breeding season it is quite straightforward to observe the peregrines, especially once the young hatch and require increasingly frequent deliveries of prey.
The nest box installed by the Hawk and Owl Trust can be seen on the East face of the spire on the highest window – see image below:
St John’s Roman Catholic Church is on South Parade, Bath. South Parade is a cul-de-sac with wide pavements so traffic is light. There is plenty of room to watch the tower from street level on the pavement opposite the church off Manvers Street, which leads north from Bath Spa railway station.
It is easy to see the birds with the naked eye as they swoop in. With patience even inexperienced observers should be able to spot a bird perched on one of the stone decorations high on the church. However binoculars always improve the chances of an excellent view and they are recommended.
The young take to the wing for the first time from the spire, and they sometimes launch off before they have quite developed full mastery of flight. Anyone finding a young and perplexed-looking peregrine on the ground near St Johns is asked to notify the church or the nearby police station, and an experienced conservationist will be called to return the young bird to its parents.
Only trained and licensed individuals are allowed to go near the peregrines at their nest because otherwise there is a risk of disturbing them, which is against the law.