Thursday, 7 November 2013
Finding a perfect nest site
As many of you may know Peregrines are listed as a Schedule 1 species, and as such are given the highest protection that the Wildlife laws allow. All breeding birds, there active nests and eggs are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA) 1981.This protection makes it an offence to kill, injure or take any wild bird or to take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst that nest is in use or being built.
Add to this in relation to Schedule 1 birds and the following is applied, it is illegal to disturb pairs while they are nest building, or at a nest containing eggs or young or disturb dependant young.
As such and across London the Schedule 1 licensing laws for peregrines apply from February 1st until mid July minimum, of course sometimes there are ‘issues’.
Peregrines are not tolerant of people when nesting and in most cases when they are nesting on or slightly below a roof top the whole roof becomes off limits, even large roofs. In many cases even if the incubating Falcon is not in view it will be likely that the Tiercel will be sitting above or at the highest point of the nest site to cover any ‘threats’. Anyone walking onto a roof and visual, even at distance, he will react loudly and at times this is communicated to the incubating Falcon and she comes of the eggs/young, not good. Of course this constitutes disturbance.
Getting and finding the ideal building in London is becoming harder, many are renting out there roof space to the Mobile Phone Companies and this obviously generates money, from this you can see where the conflict arises if peregrines come along and decides to nest on the roof. If this happens as you can imagine it is not always well received when I have to tell companies there is now no access during the licence period unless a proven emergency, and only then with a licence holder present.
By and large though the mobile phone companies have been great on established sites and some companies recognising that it is likely to be long term have totally enclosed there walkways to their huts so as to offer no disturbance and more importantly avoid breaching the wildlife laws.
Other issues that arise are routine roof maintenance and window cleaning, beit an office block or residential block, the law again applies, people want clean windows, I do but if windows are cleaned via access from the roof the law again applies.
I can see both sides and you have to be able to see the bigger picture, obviously being licensed carries a certain level of responsibility and you have to be fair and not just lay down the law at every opportunity. You can’t just say – you can’t this and you can’t that, there has to be a compromise of sorts to keep everyone happy.
As the title says finding and keeping the perfect nest site is hard in both settled and new pairings, in the case of new pairings they choose the building and you just have to go with it. Peregrines are totally unpredictable and as I have said in the past the same reasoning cannot be applied to all, each pairing has its own characteristics.
Structures are less troublesome due to their lack (usually) of human habitance at higher levels – Churches, Cathedrals etc.., the downside to this sometimes is a lack of exercise space for fledging juveniles, in some cases it leads to grounding. Having said that much depends on the weather on the day of fledging.
I visited a site on Thursday morning in north east London which has failed for the last few years on a structure which is unsuitable it seems for breeding, this site is due for demolition so I and others are trying to find them an alternative site. Having scouted a number of buildings within their territory all are residential and all have mobile phone masts on the roof, placing a nest box would lead to conflict.
I have two other avenues to explore and it is unlikely that the first choice will be accepted, but the 2nd although not ideal in terms of position it has the height and if a nest box was to be allowed it would face in the right direction, east. The bottom line is it would give them a chance, its within there territory.
Time will tell, I know a well placed nest box is all that this pair need for successful breeding, finding a nest site is another matter.