Birds of Pray flock to St Thomas a Becket

Laura White
Laura White


Recently the church in Sourton on the edge of Dartmoor was closed to the public and the church bells silenced.

A pair of blue tits had made a nest in the St Thomas a Becket Church lectern and eight young blue tits hatched. Church maintenance man Tony Batten kept seeing the two blue tits flying around and landing on the lectern so shone a torch through the ornate carved lectern used by the parish, and inside the lectern he saw eight young hungry blue tit chicks.

It was decided to close the church to the public and suspend all bell ringing. A few services did go ahead but the church organ which is very close to the lectern nesting site could not be used.

The Revd Adrian Brook the vicar said: “We don’t have a very big flock between four and twelve parishioners each week. We decided to close the church to the public, stopped the 11am sung service once a fortnight, stopped bell ringing as the mother and father blue tits were getting in and out through the bell chamber.

‘We only carried on with the 8am spoken service each fortnight and I stopped using the lectern which I would normally use. You hear the chicks who seemed to join in with us during the service. At the end I would bless the congregation and then the chicks.”

Photographer Colin Sargent who took these photographs said: “The chicks were very small so it was all about keeping people out so they didn’t disturb them.”

Last week the birds all left the church after the doors and windows were left open most of the day.

Local Life