I’ve been a bird watcher since the 1960s, when I joined the Young Ornithologists Club as a kid. But I’d never seen a peregrine in the wild until 2016.
JA Baker wrote powerful prose about his obsession with watching peregrines along Essex’s Chelmer Valley, in the 1960s.
I read Baker’s book, The Peregrine, in October 2016. And blow me… of all the luck. I see my first bird a few months later, in of all places – the first pylon, south-west of Basildon’s Wat Tyler car park.
Peregrines use high buildings around Colchester, and the Thames coast (Southend and Rainham) to hunt. But Basildon was a chance encounter for me. Walking the dog over Christmas, the wife and I saw bird watchers in the car park with high powered lenses.
They pointed up towards the pylon top and there he was; a male bird surveying the estuary at low tide. The birders told me he had a mate. Forty minutes later she flew over to join him. Wait 52 years, and two come along at once.
The birders explained that Wat Tyler is now one of best places to see these falcons. What a find in Basildon’s backyard.