A BIRD watcher says he has seen a pair of peregrine falcons nesting on the Thwaites sign at the top of the old Blackburn brewery tower – which is scheduled for demolition.

Twitcher Gerard Raynor has spotted a male and a female nesting on the iconic lettering on the tower.

The 60-year-old, who has been a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for 30 years, says he saw the falcons there as recently as two weeks ago through his binoculars.

He regularly visits the town centre to see how the birds are getting on during their spring breeding season.

Work to clear the brewery site began earlier this year after its closure last summer. The tower is scheduled to be knocked down this summer.

If the protected birds’ nest is confirmed it may delay work until they and their chicks leave.

He said: “I have seen the birds go to and from there for a while now.

“I’ve seen them take up pigeons to the nest and eat them.

“I’m worried Thwaites do not know the birds are there and if the tower is destroyed it may kill the birds and any potential eggs or chicks.

“Because the birds are protected they will need to be re-homed. This may interfere with the demolition process of the tower.”

A falcon was found in the same spot in February in 2009 by Thwaites regional sales manager Mike Jepson, a bird spotting enthusiast.

Two years earlier, the chimney at India Mill in Darwen became the new home for nesting peregrine falcons. As a result, the next stage of the chimney’s maintenance work and a new office development were stopped for four months.

Peregrine falcons have full legal protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Nests and eggs are also protected and the law makes it an offence to take, damage or destroy the nest of a wild bird while it is in use or being built or to take or destroy the eggs.

It is thought around 1,500 breeding pairs of peregrine falcons currently live in the UK and have been drawn to cities and towns to feed on pigeons and other birds.

Production of beer ended in May at Blackburn’s Thwaites site and was transferred to the company’s new home in Sykes Holt, near Mellor Brook.

A Thwaites spokesman said: “We have heard reports of falcons being spotted around Blackburn and believe they nest in India Mill in Darwen or elsewhere.

“Prior to us handing over the site to the demolition contractors, we did a full ecological survey looking at all forms of wildlife including bats and falcons and there was no evidence of them being in residence.

“The tower is not due to be knocked down until late summer, so we will pass the information over to the contractors.”

Demolition contractors for the site, PP O’Connor Ltd, were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.