A peregrine falcon egg, spotted in Birmingham, is the first recorded urban egg of 2009. A nest cam captured the nesting female and her egg on Fort Dunlop, where a pair of peregrines have been breeding since 2002.
This is indicative of a growing trend, with more peregrines now nesting on iconic city landmarks across the UK, from the Tate Modern in London and cathedrals in Lincoln and Chichester to Cardiff Clock Tower and Manchester’s Arndale shopping centre.
The RSPB has organised viewing schemes at many of these sites. In Birmingham, images of the nesting peregrine and her offspring will be beamed onto a screen in Victoria Square via the BBC Birmingham website.
Louise Pedersen, from the RSPB’s West Midlands office, says: ‘People never fail to be wowed by the news that most 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 makes even the most resolute urbanites excited about wildlife.’
Although peregrines are traditionally associated with sea cliffs and crags, changing landscapes have led to them choosing more unlikely places to nest. Tall buildings offer some of the same benefits as cliff faces – height, safety from danger and ample prey in surrounding areas, such as local parks.
British peregrine populations plummeted to just 360 breeding pairs in the 1950s due to factors such as increased pesticides in farming. The RSPB believes that there are now at least 1,500 breeding pairs in the UK, many of which have benefited from finding urban homes.
The RSPB’s Date With Nature scheme offers people the chance to view wildlife in unusual places. As well peregrines in cities, people can see nesting herons in East Anglia, more than a hundred red kites feeding in Wales, a red deer herd in Suffolk, starlings roosting on Brighton Pier or white-tailed eagles in Scotland, among others.
Project manager Richard Bashford says: ‘The UK has some of the most incredible wildlife in the world. The RSPB scheme shows some of the best we have to offer. Everyone loves nature and sometimes you don’t realise how close you are to it.’
For details of 2009’s 50 Date With Nature schemes, visit www.rspb.org.uk/datewithnature
To view images from the Birmingham peregrine nest cam, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/birmingham/content/webcams/peregrine_falcon_live_webcam.shtml