Peregrine falcons have their own wing in this Southend building!
HERE is one of the peregrine falcons said to have set up home in a derelict office block due to be demolished.
Echo photographer Anna Lukala swooped to capture these shots of the birds of prey flying around Portcullis House, in Victoria Avenue, Southend.
The birds were spotted just days after scaffolding was erected by developer Mapeley Estates, which is hoping to bulldoze the block which has been empty since HM Revenue and Customs moved out in 2008.
However, those plans could be stalled because of the falcons if they are found to be using the 14-storey tower block as a nesting place.
One bird-loving local worker, who wished to stay anonymous, spotted the birds soaring in the sky yesterday morning and resting on a window ledge.
He said he hoped they weren’t nesting, and added: “It was clearly perched on the building, though it is unclear whether there is any hard evidence to suggest they are actually nesting inside.
“However, it doesn’t seem like much work has been done to stop the falcons from trying to nest up there.”
Under schedule one of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, the birds, which are the largest breed of falcon in the UK, have protected status.
This means it would be illegal to destroy the building during the peregrine mating season, which falls between March and July, if nests are found in the disused office block.
After previous reports of falcons being spotted flying around the building, Mapeley Estates sent an independent ornithologist to inspect the site in January. Results from the visit suggested there were no traces of peregrine nests anywhere around the property.
A spokesman for Southend Council, which granted permission for developers to knock down Portcullis House, said any issues regarding nests inside the building would be left for the police to handle. Mapeley Estates was unavailable for comment.
In January, the Echo reported the RSPB would try to ensure the falcons were protected, as stipulated by British law, if nests were found at the 14-storey tower block.
This followed reports from members of the public who had spotted the birds flying around the building.
Days later, developer Mapeley Estates, which had been granted permission to bulldoze the property, said a bird expert they sent to inspect the site could find no trace of nests.
However, on February 3, Martin Smith, an IT worker at neighbouring Alexandra House, snapped the falcons perched on top of the former HM Revenue and Customs building.
Last year, a similar problem was caused at another building site after wintering ruddy turnstones were found to be nesting on Southend Pier, disrupting building work for the planned £3million cultural centre.
Source: Southend Standard