The Falls of Clyde – the Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve that offers unrivalled views of nesting peregrine falcons- is coming under strict 24-hour surveillance against egg thieves and wildlife criminals, so thousands of visitors can continue to enjoy these magnificent birds.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust’s annual peregrine protection watch begins this weekend (24 March 2012) and they invite you to come and join expert staff and volunteers in observing the world’s fastest animal.
The Trust’s Peregrine Protection Officer, funded by People’s Postcode Lottery, will coordinate a team of up to 20 staff members and volunteers who will monitor the peregrine nests until June.
Tom Wells, the new People’s Postcode Lottery Peregrine Protection Officer for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said:
“Unfortunately peregrine falcons and other threatened birds of prey species continue to be persecuted by a rogue minority of the pigeon fancying and game keeping community as well as egg collectors. Last year a pair of peregrines were heartlessly poisoned locally in Motherwell, a cruel reminder of just how important it is that we continue a 24 hour vigil of our site.
“To prevent these crimes it is very important to protect nests where possible and educate the public. It’s imperative for tough sentences to be handed down to wildlife offenders in court. For example one serial egg collector has been banned from Scotland during the breeding season for the next ten years.
“Despite the crimes that do happen, it is heartening to see the number of people who take such pleasure in watching our peregrines. It also gives me great joy that people are willing to give up their free time to help protect the birds and share them with up to 10,000 visitors during the breeding season.
“This all helps to show that the majority of the Scottish people want to enjoy and conserve our amazing wildlife and not destroy it.”
Laura Whitfield, the Scottish Wildlife Trust Falls of Clyde Ranger, added:
“Peregrines and other wildlife bring in 65 million pounds to the Scottish economy each year. This figure certainly doesn’t surprise members of staff here, who see just how popular our pair of peregrine falcons have been with the public.
“The Falls of Clyde is one of the best places in the UK to see peregrine falcons. The peregrines’ nest is only 60m across the gorge from the watch site. This affords excellent views of the eyasses (chicks) when they first hatch which is an amazing sight to behold.
“The male is now around 15 years old and the female 10, so they have become something of an institution at our reserve, it is great to see the male return for another year and hopefully his veteran experience will help in raising a good number of healthy chicks again.
“‘The Peregrine Experience’ proved extremely popular last year, thanks in part to the live HD nest cam footage which streams to a big screen in the centre and on the Scottish Wildlife Trust website. The storms over the winter lead to a revamping of the peregrine viewing area, and we continue to evolve and improve the site each year.
“Our HD nest cam streams live to www.scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk and our popular blog blogs.scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/fallsofclyde will once again provide even more information about peregrines and will be updated regularly by our peregrine protection officer.”
Peregrine numbers fell rapidly in the 1950s due to the effects of pesticides such as DDT, which decreased reproductive success through thinning of eggshells. But thanks to conservation efforts, numbers have increased since then.
There are about 1,400 pairs of peregrine falcons remaining in the UK. This number accounts for 20% of the EU breeding population and approximately two-thirds of them nest in Scotland.
Famed as the fastest living creature on earth, peregrines can dive at speeds of up to approximately 200 mph to catch their prey of small and medium-sized birds.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust is appealing to volunteers to help monitor the peregrines and engage with visitors to the watch site at Falls of Clyde. For more information phone 01555 665 262 or 07770 400 608, alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org.