Archive for Peregine Falcons
www.independent.co.uk 7th August 2011
Peregrine falcons, the fastest animals in the world, used to be a species in decline in the UK. The introduction of organochlorine pesticide in the mid-20th century decimated their populations as it caused the walls of falcon eggs to thin. Numbers of breeding pairs in the country dropped to around 360 in the 1960s. Today though, there has been a huge increase in peregrine numbers with 1,500 pairs known. A surprising 24 of these have taken up residence in London. Two have even set up home on top of the famous Tate Modern gallery on the South Bank. ”Since the banning of certain pesticides, the peregrines have bounced back. More and more are spreading out looking for new territories,” said Paul Stancliffe, a bird specialist at the British Trust for Ornithology. ”They favour places with abundant food that are inaccessible to other predators. As those prime territories get taken up, young birds look for new spaces – buildings in cities and towns provide perfect cliff-like locations.” Although peregrine populations maybe making a recovery in urban areas, ‘the illegal persecution of the birds by gamekeepers in rural areas is still a cause for “major concern”.’ Between 1990 and 2009, ‘there were 141 convictions relating to bird of prey persecution, with 98 individuals having game-bird interests’. Egg stealing is also a common problem with wild peregrines in much demand for falconry.