Peregrine falcon in flight

Our returning peregrines are choosing concrete over cliffs

Monday, December 16th, 2019

Our peregrine falcon population is recovering here in the UK and with the ever-increasing competition for nest sites, peregrines are now more frequently found nesting on tall buildings in lowland areas than the more traditional coastal and upland sites.

The peregrine is one of our most spectacular birds of prey. It has been estimated that they can reach speeds of 240mph when performing their characteristic hunting stoop, making them the fastest bird in the world!

There has been a remarkable recovery in the peregrine population in both Britain and Ireland since the ban on organochlorine pesticides use in agriculture in the 1960s.

Traditionally, peregrines bred on cliffs in upland and coastal areas but more recently they have spread to the lowlands including urban areas where they use quarries and tall structures such as cathedrals and tower blocks for nesting. With ever increasing competition for nest sites, there have even been recent records of peregrines nesting on electricity pylons and in trees.

Immature peregrine nesting on pylon

In Sussex, the peregrine is a scarce but increasing breeding resident with most records coming from the coast and river valleys. Peregrines like to hunt from high ledges, and such features dominate the built-up Sussex coastline in cities and towns such as Brighton and Worthing. Across the river valleys they often hunt from electricity pylons.

Earlier this year, two surveyors from our Sussex office carrying out a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) stumbled across a peregrine perching on the ledge of a high-rise building in a coastal town. Unfortunately, as peregrines still suffer illegal persecution in the UK it is not possible to be too specific about where this bird was. Peregrine records for the area confirmed that this was a known nest site.

Protecting our peregrines

Our Northern team has been monitoring the species at several quarries in Wales and Scotland this year, in order to find ways to reduce disturbance impacts on the species through ongoing extractions.

The peregrine is a Schedule 1 bird species meaning their nest sites are legally protected from disturbance as well as destruction. They are also particularly territorial of their nest sites, so if disturbance drives them from one site they may not be able to find another suitable spot nearby.

Get in touch with our experts

If you think that you may have breeding peregrines on your site, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with The Ecology Consultancy, our experts can advise on appropriate measures.

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