A KEEN wildlife photographer has shared his secrets after capturing a collection of stunning photos of the birds of prey nesting in one of Colchester’s most famous landmarks.

Self-employed painter and decorator Ant Niles captured the amazing shots of the famous peregrine falcon pair who’ve made their home atop Victorian water tower Jumbo.

Ant, 50, who is a member of the Gazette Camera Club, has become something of an expert after starting his birdwatching career at the age of eight.

And peregrines, known as the world’ fastest animal because they can reach speeds of up to 186 miles per hour during dives, have become one of his favourite subjects over his four decades spotting wildlife.

Peregrine Falcon Jumbo

Picture: Ant Niles

He said: “I’ve watched and studied between eight and 11 pairs of Peregrines for 40 years now in and around Colchester and a 20 mile radius, as well as many other birds we have in this county.

“The very first thing any birdwatcher or bird lover should do is to know they are in a responsible place when birding - never disturb and never get too close.

“Binoculars are my best friend and have been since a young lad. They will get you the closeness if required.

“At a distance you get to see them act naturally and you don’t disturb them. This is very important, especially during nesting seasons.

“Photography and wildlife again never get too close.”

Peregrine Falcon Jumbo

Picture: Ant Niles

Ant, who lives in Brightlingsea, said the most important quality in any successful wildlife snapper was patience.

“Many birds are like humans - creatures of habit,” he said.

“If you are trying to gain a close up of a certain bird or wildlife subject study them, watch their behaviour and put yourself responsibly where for example you know the bird for example likes to eat or roost.

“Owls will use the same flight paths and are quite easy to predict after a little studying and field work.

“As for the fastest living creature on the planet the peregrine, field work has taught me the daily feeding times and flight path normally used, so photographing them becomes a lot easier.

“My greatest achievement is to teach my daughters bird calls and song. This will give you a head start when birdwatching as you may not see it but you can hear it.”

Peregrine Falcon Jumbo

Picture: Ant Niles

A Dutch-ringed female peregrine and her mate have successfully raised young falcons on the historic Jumbo water tower every year since 2016.

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Last year tragedy struck the pair when one of the young falcons fell from the tower and died.

Peregrine Falcon Jumbo

Picture: Ant Niles

The two remaining chicks were ready to leave the nest in mid-June, but across two consecutive days both birds were spotted on the ground by members of the public.

They were picked up and passed on to licensed bird of prey handler Peter Merchant, who set about nursing them back to health.