Falcons on the Tower

With just days to go before the demolition of the gas tower is due to start, a pair of peregrine falcons have been sighted returning to their summer residence.

Some peregrine falcon facts:

They are the fastest birds in the world.

The female is larger than the male.

They mate for life, returning to the same nesting spot annually.

They don’t build nests like regular birds, as their natural habitat is a cliff edge where they scrape an area flat to lay their eggs, hence their nesting area being called ‘a scrape’.

They tend not to fly more than sixty miles away from where they were born.

This location is ideal for peregrine falcons as there’s an abundance of feral pigeons for them to eat.

Photographer Leslee Barron has been documenting the birds and their life on the tower.

Leslee writes:

There was a beautiful sunset on Saturday, Feb 27th so I popped down to take some photos, as sunsets make the steelwork on the gas tower glow beautifully.

While I was there, I saw a little dot on one of the horizontal steel girders and took a quick snap. Checking it on my camera screen I zoomed in fully expecting it to be a pigeon, I remember thinking, hold on a minute, pigeons don’t have feathers like these. The bird had its back to me which meant I couldn’t see any of its tell-tale features. I kept snapping away and zooming in on my camera screen to check it and there it was, finally, the image I wanted, it had turned and in profile, I saw its hooked beak! I was ridiculously excited.

Since then, I’ve been going back every day for an hour to stand on the bridge next to the tower to monitor their activity. There’s only been one day I didn’t see them. I saw them mating twice which confirmed they were a pair.

The gas tower is due for demolition, but it is so important that the demolition does not happen while the peregrine falcons are preparing to nest. Once they do lay their eggs they become a protected species in law and any disturbance would be in contravention of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. I and many other residents do not want the work, to dismantle the gas tower, to start until we can definitively confirm whether they are nesting or not.

Where the horizontal girders of the gas tower meet the vertical pillars, there are flat areas of about a metre square (I’m guessing the size). These would be ideal spots for a scrape.