A PAIR of peregrine falcons nesting on top of a church in Taunton have been caught on camera having taken 35 different species of birds as prey.

The action has been recorded on five cameras installed on the tower of St Mary Magdalene Church to capture images of the birds 24 hour a day.

It is part of a £7,000 project to lure the creatures back to the church, where they perched on a ledge and attracted plenty of onlookers in the spring and summer of last year.

A nest box was placed on the tower last year to entice the falcons back this year in the hope they will breed.

And now the cameras have also been gone in so people can enjoy watching the birds, which prefer to nest away from any disturbance.

Project manager Michael Leigh-Mallory said the nestbox and cameras signalled the completion of the first part of the project, with colour images recorded during the day and infra-red monochrome images at night.

He added: "Incredibly, we have so far recorded 35 different species of birds, prey items taken by the Taunton peregrines. The variety of species taken is incredibly diverse.

"We have installed the very latest Ultra HD 4K definition cameras, a first we think for a peregrine project in the UK.

"Already the system has recorded evidence of nocturnal hunting by the pair.

"We hope they make a first breeding attempt in the spring. There's never any guarantee - now the waiting begins."

The initiative has been supported by Taunton Deane Borough Council, Somerset Ornithological Society, Coomber Security Systems Ltd and numerous individual donors.

A free open day to unveil the new lives screen is being held in St Mary's on Saturday, March 24, from 10am to 4.30pm.

As well as the official unveiling of the screen, there will be a talk on urban peregrines by expert Edward Drewitt and a chance to watch the birds through a telescope.

If the falcons breed, they are likely to have between one and four young and there will be restricted access to the tower between February and July, when the chicks will be in the box. They would then be ringed.

Peregrine falcons suffered a catastrophic decline in numbers in the 1960s but are now making their way back, although there are still only about 1,500 pairs in the country.