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Secret Nesting Site for Rare Peregrine Falcons in Kent

Secret Nesting Site for Rare Peregrine Falcons in Kent

Dave Green, manager of our Kent branch, couldn’t believe his luck when in 2010; in the course of his bird control work, he spotted a pair of Peregrine Falcons nesting in an area which, from experience, he realised was not an ideal spot for them to be able to breed successfully.

The natural habitat for Peregrines in the UK tends to be upland and coastal areas where they nest on sea cliffs, quarries and crags. Dave quickly realised that this breeding pair were going to need some assistance in order to encourage them to stay in the area.

He informed the owners of the site of the presence of the Peregrines and discussed with them the importance of encouraging and protecting the pair. Together they manufactured a custom made ‘nesting pan’ made from the base of a 45 gallon drum filled with pea shingle, which was placed close to the original nest site.

The Peregrine is such a rare bird that it has become a target for criminals intent on stealing their eggs to supply collectors or the falconry trade and in the past, the breed was persecuted almost to extinction, with only 360 pairs in existence in the 1960’s.

Dave said ‘I knew that in order to maximise the birds’ chances of breeding successfully, I would need to ensure that they were protected, so I contacted the police and Natural England and informed them where the nest site was situated.’

Once involved, the police installed special movement cameras, which offered 24 hour protection to the birds by deterring criminals and unnecessary activity around the nest site. Peregrines and their nests are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and penalties for taking or disturbing the birds or their eggs, carry a heavy fine – or even a custodial sentence.

Safe in their man-made nest, the Peregrines laid the first of four eggs on the 29th March 2011 and incubation started the following day. Dave said ‘we waited with baited breath to see what would happen and amazingly, all four eggs hatched and the babies were reared by both parents.’

The birds were closely monitored until they were old enough to be ringed and on the 27th May, a team of experts from Natural England carried out the ringing, weighed the birds and took DNA samples.

Since then, the birds have fledged and can be seen being taught how to hunt by their parents - evidence of their success has been found around the nest site- and once the young have matured, they will soon take off to find their own territories.

The current nesting site is not ideal, so a purpose built nest box has been placed close by to encourage these beautiful birds to hopefully breed in the area again next year.


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