Drama Up in The Spire at Norwich Cathedral

Over the past few days there have been dramatic events happening at Norwich Cathedral with regards to an ‘intruder’, known as GA, being seen and causing disturbance to our nesting platform at Norwich Cathedral.  For the full press release and the Hawk and Owl Trust’s policy regarding this matter, please read below: 

On Saturday 14th May, a large dominant female bird was seen visiting the Cathedral Spire at Norwich. At that point our resident female appeared to be submissive to the female and was taking no action against the ‘intruder’. At that time the chicks were still being fed by both the male and the female.  The following morning, it was noted that the ‘intruding’ female had a blue ring on her left leg, at the time the letters on it could not be distinguished. However it was seen that she was starting to have a noticeable effect on our female throughout the day, harassing her and preventing her from delivering food to the chicks. The last noted time on our webcams where our female was seen on the platform was at 8.29am on Sunday 15th May.
On Monday 16th May, the day of the ringing of our Norwich chicks, the letters on the ring became visible and were confirmed as GA, this is a bird that hatched and was ringed at St. John’s Church in Bath in 2013, the sister project to our Norwich peregrines. GA was seen around the cathedral and on the spire. At one point seen on the window apex above the nest box and throughout the day catching prey, plucking and storing it on the very top of the spire. The Norwich resident female was not seen at all throughout Monday and all feeds to the chicks were delivered by the male.The ‘intruding’ peregrine, GA, is of breeding age, when she was ringed in Bath in 2013 she was described as “a large, feisty female”. However this is not the first time she has visited Norwich Cathedral, as she made an appearance in Norwich in the summer of 2015 and has appeared several times over the last winter. Sightings in the local area have also been reported showing she has been around in Norfolk over the last couple of weeks and we believe she may have been roosting in the nest box that we recently installed at Wymondham Abbey in February this year, as a blue ringed female had been observed.
GA seen briefly in the Norwich Cathedral nest box with the male and chicks at 8.00am on 18th May
The potential outcome with the introduction of GA into the arena here at Norwich, is that our female seems to have been chased away from the Cathedral, though she may still be in the area. The male now appears to have become the sole provider of food. He will continue to bring in food as often as he can, however as the chicks continue to grow and develop over the next 10 days or so, they will require increasing amounts of food. It is in this situation that ‘nature, red in tooth and claw’ may be seen in action and on our cameras. At this stage sibling rivalry may occur and the strongest and fittest of the chicks will pick on the smallest and weakest if food is in short supply.
The policy of the Hawk and Owl Trust, confirmed by Conservation Officer Nigel Middleton is that we will not intervene should this occur. This differs from the situation earlier in the week when the chicks were ringed by a licensed BTO ringer. On that occasion a veterinary surgeon was present to take samples for DNA and throat swabs as part of a research project into DNA profiling. It was a veterinary decision based on animal welfare considerations to treat a sick chick.
Peregrines are a Schedule 1 species of bird that are protected by law and for the Hawk and Owl Trust to intervene would require us to hold the relevant licence to do so. To justify obtaining such a licence there would need to be evidence of a complete abandonment of the chicks by both the parents. As the adult male is still seen to be feeding the chicks as best he can, what is happening now would be regarded as a natural occurrence and as such would not justify intervention from the Hawk and Owl Trust.


GA was seen briefly at the Norwich Cathedral nesting platform with the male and chicks at 8.00am on Wednesday 18th May
GA was seen briefly at the Norwich Cathedral nesting platform with the male and chicks at 8.00am on Wednesday 18th May


GA being ringed by Ed Drewitt in Bath in 2013
GA being ringed by Ed Drewitt in Bath in 2013

17 Responses to Drama Up in The Spire at Norwich Cathedral

  1. What a good old dad,carrying on in the face of adversity. Nature sure is a wonderful thing, no time to dwell on what has happened to his mate, just getting on with bringing up the kids, good on im!

  2. tiniest which I think may be the male calling constantly for food [16.20-now 16.33 ]-the other three are female and seem ok -he was sickly last week but seemed to have recovered after being given anti bionics and having food removed from his throat where it had got stuck–her had a mouth infection

    • The resident pair had been breeding at the Cathedral since at least 2012 when the webcam was first installed, so she’s not young, at least 7 – unlike GA who’s only 3 and now at breeding age. The ringing/DNA sampling was carried out on Monday 16th, but the resident female hadn’t been seen since Sunday. The ringing has been carried out in previous years so the resident pair would surely be used to it by now. I’ve been told that a couple of Peregrines were spotted fighting viciously there on Sunday not long before the resident vanished – if true it could well have been she and GA doing battle, GA may well have been victorious and that sadly may be the reason for the resident ‘leaving the arena’. She’s always been a great mother, a prolific huntress and fearless in confronting other, larger, raptors who could threaten her offspring. It surely must have taken something quite drastic for her to leave.

  3. See that chicks are feeding themselves but small one seems unable to feed. Hope that this chick is not the first casualty of this upsetting season.

  4. Is there evidence that the male is still feeding the chicks? I have been watching frequently and haven’t seen a feed in last 24hrs. An earlier post by hawk and owl trust said that if there was evidence that both parents had abandoned the chicks then a licence could be obtained to intervene. It would be terrible to miss this oportunity if it is a possibility and lawful.

  5. I noticed that Dad looks out for the little male who was a bit frail. He certainly makes sure he and his more diffident sister are fed

  6. Looks like four feeds yesterday by the male, doing an amazing job. Seems to be sharing the food well and each chick seems to be getting a share at the moment. The word is the the mother is still in the area but not seen at the nest. The ‘girl from out of town’ is still in the area too tit seems. It’s true ly a soap opera of the peri grime kind!
    PS dad could do with getting a Hoover and having a tidy up, the nest is looking really messy, like after a lads Friday night keebab blowout!

  7. Dad is doing a supreme job ensuring that he seeks out the quiet chick who hangs back during feeding times. Some of them are feeding themselves too and are doing their missing mother proud!

  8. Is it possible to have more news each day on the number of feeds the male is bringing or whether the original femtale has been seen at all?

    Is the intruder still at large?

    News news news please.

    Thank you

  9. I watched the dad feeding the chicks earlier and the intruder female swept down screeching at them! Do you think she is trying to lure the male away as a breeding partner for herself or is she intending to kill the chicks or maybe even thinks they are her chicks?

  10. Can I just echo the Meg’s comments as I can only get on the page occasionally during the day and have no other way of keeping abreast of any news. Thanks .

  11. As this is obviously a worrying situation, please could you give us regular updates on whether our female is seen in the area, GA’s activities, and how many feeds the male is bringing, and how chicks are doing? Your recent report explained so much. Thank you.

  12. What could be the outcome of this intrusion.Would the new female mate with the male? Will she kill the chicks? Very concerned as this pair of Peregrines have been great parents.

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