March 2009

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | UK Bird News | Bird News for United Kingdom 2009 |  March 2009

Worcester's peregrines are back in town...

Worcester's peregrines are back in town...

Worcester’s two peregrines are poised to capture the hearts of city dwellers this summer, and a new and better nest camera will make it even easier to keep an eye on their fascinating antics from Saturday 4 April.

The RSPB is once again partnering up with Worcester City Council to give nature lovers the change to enjoy stunning footage of Worcester’s peregrines as they will hopefully go on to raise young on top of one of the city’s most iconic buildings.

The charity and the council have been able to confirm via footage from the camera that the female peregrine laid her first egg in the nesting box and the pair are already taking incubation in shifts.

It’s still unconfirmed how many eggs she has laid, but hatching is expected in a few weeks’ time.

To help you get some of the best possible views of the peregrines and to follow the progress of the eggs, RSPB staff and volunteers will show the images from the nest on a screen at their stand outside the Guildhall each Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 4 April to 13 June between 10am to 4:30pm.

The RSPB will also have a stand at the foot of St. Andrew’s Spire from which they will be showing people the peregrines through telescopes and binoculars, and giving advice on anything from wildlife friendly gardening, how to care for the birds in your garden and where to go to watch wildlife locally.
The live images from the nest can also be viewed from Friday 3 April on the City Council’s website at

This year the webpages are upgraded with lots more information including links to video from last year, especially featuring the ringing of last years chicks, and lots more pictures.
Chris Dobbs, Landscape Architect at the Council says: “I’ve been involved with this project now for the past three years and it certainly hasn’t lost its magic. I can’t help scouting for the peregrines every time when I walk past the Spire or the Cathedral, it’s absolutely brilliant!
“This is a fantastic project featuring both the great work the RSPB do and the biodiversity work of the City Council, so I hope lots of people will come along to see the birds at the RSPB’s viewpoints in the city centre and via our website.”

Laura Reynolds, one of the RSPB’s two Date with Nature officers in Worcester says: “The peregrines here in Worcester are wild birds and you just never know what will happen, but we are so relieved and excited to see on the nest cam footage that the peregrines have bred again this year.
“People in Worcester are really fortunate to share their city with one of the planets fastest and most powerful hunters, and my colleague Andrew and I just can’t wait to exchange stories about the peregrines with people who visit our stands by the Spire and by the Guildhall.”
The Date With Nature viewing scheme is free of charge to all visitors.
There are over 50 Dates With Nature events around the UK. The scheme gives people the opportunity to get up close and personal with all sorts of wildlife and enjoy spectacular views of creatures they may never see otherwise.
Picture:Peregrine perched on St Andrews Spire worcester Abbey (RSPB)

Birmingham peregrines are back in town...

Urban peregrine families are poised to capture the hearts of city dwellers once again this spring, with the discovery of the first city peregrine egg of 2009 in Birmingham.

A nest cam has captured the single egg of a nesting female on Fort Dunlop, a local landmark in Birmingham. A pair of peregrines has bred at this site since 2002 and it is hoped that they will successfully raise a family again this year.
Peregrine falcons have increasingly been winning the admiration of commuters, shoppers and town workers, inspiring even the most ardent city folk about wildlife as they bring up families on iconic city buildings.
One of the fastest creatures on the planet, the peregrine falcon is seen in towns and cities across the UK. Nesting sites include cathedrals in Lincoln and Chichester, Cardiff clock tower and Manchester’s Arndale shopping centre.

After a population crash in the 1960s, peregrine numbers have recovered steadily and recent surveys show that there are now almost 1,500 peregrines pairs in the UK. They have traditionally been associated with wild crags or lonely sea cliffs but changing landscapes mean they have adapted to living in more unlikely places. All they ask for is a place to breed and a food supply they can catch.

To a peregrine, a tall building like an office block or church offers the same benefits as a cliff face - it is high, safe from danger and the surrounding areas offer ample prey. Surrounding parks, and urban pigeons in particular, offer a ready supply of food.
It is hoped that the Birmingham peregrine egg will be the first of many in cities again this season, giving urbanites the opportunity to see this impressive bird.
Thousands of people will be able to keep an eye on the progress of the peregrines at Fort Dunlop while walking to work or doing their shopping in the city centre with a viewing scheme organised by the RSPB. Images will be beamed onto a screen in Victoria Square via the BBC Birmingham website meaning viewers could catch every feed, preen and first flight.
Similar viewing schemes will be available all over the country, including Chichester cathedral, Lincoln cathedral and Cardiff Clock Tower.
Louise Pedersen, from the RSPB’s West Midlands office says: “We were all waiting with baited breath to see if our city peregrines would breed again this year and were so relieved and excited to see the egg when we checked the nest cam footage.

“We hoped they would be successful again but you just never know, and to think it is the first urban peregrine egg that has been recorded this year makes it extra special.
“People never fail to be wowed by the news that one of the fastest and most powerful hunters on the planet lives just above their heads in the city. To get views of them so close up via the camera really brings it all to life and gets even the most resolute urbanites excited about wildlife. It’s incredible what shares our cities!
“Now we just need to keep our fingers crossed that the egg hatches successfully and we can’t wait to see a young peregrine hunting in our skies.”
As part of the nationwide ‘Date With Nature’ scheme, the RSPB will be showing people incredible wildlife spectacles in a range of places. As well as peregrines in cities, people will be able to get close views of nesting herons in East Anglia, take a seabird cruise in the north of England, see more than a hundred red kites feeding in mid Wales and watch a red deer herd in Suffolk.
Other Dates With Nature include thousands of starlings roosting on Brighton Pier, choughs nesting in slate caverns in Wales and white-tailed eagles soaring across Scotland.
There are more than 50 Dates With Nature for 2009, introducing people to the wildlife they have on their doorstep and giving unrivalled views of natural spectacles.
Richard Bashford, RSPB Date With Nature Project Manager says: “You can make a date with nature anywhere, any time, and the UK has some of the most incredible wildlife in the world.
“The RSPB scheme shows people some of the best we have to offer, from peregrines to puffins. Everyone loves nature and sometimes you don’t realise how close you are to it.
“To see one of the most exciting bird species in the world while pottering along with a coffee or heading out to grab a sandwich often surprises people and we’re pleased to be able to wow people on their lunch break!”

Rising temperatures puts the heat on golden plovers

Rising temperatures puts the heat on golden plovers

Warm summers are dramatically reducing populations of daddy long legs, which is in turn is having a severe impact on the bird populations which rely on them for food, RSPB Scotland scientists have shown.

This key finding spells out for the first time how climate change may affect upland species like golden plover, a colourful thrush-sized wading bird.

There are fears that this bird may be pushed towards local extinction by the end of the century. But the paper also points a way forward to how we can attempt to strengthen habitats to help wildlife adapt to our changing climate and prevent such consequences.

Previous research has shown how changes in the timing of golden plover breeding because of increasing spring temperatures might affect their ability to match the spring emergence of their cranefly (daddy long legs) prey. The new research shows that much more severe are the effects of increasing late summer temperatures which kill cranefly larvae in peatland soils as the surface dries out, resulting in a drop of up to 95 per cent in numbers of adult craneflies emerging the following spring.

With these craneflies providing a crucial food source for a wide range of upland birds like golden plover, this means starvation and death for many chicks.

Many studies predict dire effects of climate change upon wildlife but this study provides a rare example of where such predictions are based on a detailed understanding of a species’ requirements
As a result of average temperature increasing by 1.9ºC in late summer in the Peak District study area over the last 35 years, this has become the most important climatic factor affecting the local golden plover population.

If these trends continue, as predicted by current climate models, we would expect many plover populations, particularly in the south of their range where temperatures will be highest, to be increasingly likely to decline, or even face extinction.

Lead Author Dr James Pearce Higgins of RSPB Scotland said: 'Many studies predict dire effects of climate change upon wildlife but this study provides a rare example of where such predictions are based on a detailed understanding of a species' requirements, linking the effects of climate on food resources to changes in breeding success and population size.

'This is the most worrying development that I have found in my scientific career to date. However, by understanding these processes, we now have the chance to respond. If we can maintain good quality habitats for craneflies then we can help the birds too. For example, by blocking drainage ditches on our Forsinard reserve in the North of Scotland we hope to raise water levels and reduce the likelihood of the cranefly larvae drying out in hot summers.

'The fight against climate change will increasingly mean strengthening habitats to protect vulnerable species, as well as trying to reduce emissions.'
Picture Golden Plover by Chris Gomersall RSPB IMAGES

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | UK Bird News | Bird News for United Kingdom 2009 |  March 2009

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