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I spy... a Brummie peregrine. First ever opportunity to see peregrine nest on the web.

Last modified: 30 March 2009

Birmingham peregrine and egg

Image: BBC Birmingham

For the first time ever, people in Birmingham will be able to watch the fascinating footage of local peregrine falcons during the breeding season.  

The RSPB, Birmingham City Council, Urban Splash and the BBC have installed a web camera on a peregrine nestbox at the top floor of Fort Dunlop so nature lovers in Birmingham can enjoy intimate footage of Birmingham’s peregrines.  

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. 

The live images from the camera will be broadcast on the BBC Birmingham website from today [30 March], but the RSPB has been able to confirm via footage from the live nest camera that the female peregrine laid its first egg on 18 March. 

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 the Tate Modern in London, 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 food to 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. 

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 at the RSPB’s Date With Nature stand each Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 10am to 4:30pm from 4 April to 19 July. 

The RSPB will also be at hand to show people the city’s other peregrines through telescopes and binoculars, and they will host regular guided wildlife walks in the city centre.

Louise Pedersen, from the RSPB’s 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. 

“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 to life and gets even the most resolute urbanites excited about wildlife. Its incredible what shares our cities!” 

Jill Ella, New Media Producer for the BBC Birmingham website said: “I’m thrilled that we’re able to show live images of the peregrine on her nest. It’s fantastic that people will be able to see nature as it happens – right here in Birmingham. 

“We’ve been able to see the live images for a few days now and already a captivating story is unfolding. Once people have seen the peregrine - and hopefully her eggs and chicks - I’m sure they’ll be just as excited as we are in following their progress.” 

Dr. Stefan Bodnar, Biodiversity Officer for Birmingham City Council said: “I’m really hopeful that people in Birmingham will take these peregrines to heart and help us protect them. 

“The story of the peregrine is really one of the best conservation success stories we have because not long ago peregrines were virtually extinct in the West Midlands but thanks to the phasing out of pesticides such as DDT and better wildlife laws, peregrine numbers have slowly but steadily increased and it’s wonderful that they share our city with us.”  

The RSPB’s Date With Nature event in Victoria Square is free of charge. Call the RSPB on 01216166850 or log on to www.rspb.org.uk/datewithnature/sites/birmingham to find out more.

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