Peregrines in peril

Things are ticking along nicely with the St George’s pair, with both adults regularly tripping the webcam’s sensor and feeding to twitter alerts, as well as being seen with increasing regularity perched elsewhere on the church tower’s stonework.

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Today saw a development in the female taking a Feral Pigeon to the platform, as above, showing comfort in the surroundings, and she was back later too, as below.

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I know a few people are frustrated with the angle of the webcam, but there’s nothing to be done about it at this stage, as changing it would entail significant disturbance to the platform.  It has also been deemed unpractical to install the hoped-for second webcam.  Despite this, we hope the current arrangements will provide some exciting viewing over the months ahead.

And now the less good news

A phone call received today revealed that not all Peregrines locally are faring so well.  John Coopland rang to tell me that a pair at Maltby Pit are in imminent danger of losing what was thought to be their nest site.  The Pit closed in April 2013, and the buildings associated with the coal mining are being taken down as activity there comes to an end.  A tower there has provided a ledge that the Peregrines possibly used as a natural nest site last season, and they have returned to the area this year, with activity noted.  Unfortunately, the tower is due to be demolished in the coming weeks – exact date unknown.

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Peregrines are protected as a Schedule 1 species under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, according to which it is an offense to disturb them at the nest.  The nest – and eggs – also enjoy the same legal protection.  If anyone has any advice or experience they can share with John as to how he might proceed, please post a comment on the blog here and I’ll put you in e-mail touch with him.

UPDATE (7.25pm, 26th Feb) – The RSPB’s Senior Investigations Officer Mark Thomas has replied on this blog post’s comments: “We are meeting various folk on site tomorrow, let’s see what we can do. Had good conclusions from these situations in the past. RSPB will pursue this fully”.

UPDATE (11.40pm, 27th Feb) – It seems further investigation has reached a positive conclusion – see https://sheffieldperegrines.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/peregrines-in-peril-update/

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19 comments

  1. Oh no, the Rotherham news is terrible! I work for an ecological consultancy and having asked the advice of some of my more experienced collegues they have recommended that the RSPB and Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust be contacted to lean on the Wildlife Officers and Rotherham Council to come up with a more proactive solution to this. Please keep us all posted!

  2. I’m sharing the story about Maltby Pit on Twitter, copying in Rotherham Council. It’s absolutely disgraceful that their police wildlife liaison team is unwilling to act until a criminal act has happened, when of course it’s too late. The way I see it, the more of us make some noise about this, the more chance there is that someone might take notice.

  3. Please ,Please ,surely there must be some sort of solution to this problem ,it would be a disgrace to see these beautiful birds hounded out of their nesting site . We are losing so much of our wildlife . Rotherham council and Wildlife officers need to get their act together . DO SOMETHING before its too late !!!

  4. Hi Mark Thomas from RSPB Investigations here, just read this for the first time, I will get on to this, can anyone provide me with the contact details or name of the contractors on site at the location ? Regards Mark

  5. Rotherham Council have replied:
    “It’s not our site. However, we’ve reminded the site owners of their ecological responsibilities”
    To which I’ve responded along the lines suggested by Lou Mo:
    “But given planned demolition, please can you also liaise with @Natures_Voice & @WildSheffield to find a more proactive solution?”

    I’ve also tweeted to Alkane, the new site owners (@AlkaneEnergyPlc) to ask if they can confirm a demolition date and whether they plan to postpone until the breeding season has ended.

    I also think it’s worth someone with press links at Sheffield Peregrines/Bird Study Group releasing this story to local news media.

  6. As a schedule one species it is surely illegal to even approach the nest once it has been identified. I would have thought that demolition would be difficult without close inspection by engineers or the demolition company. That might mean that a criminal act was comitted even before the actual demolition took place. Also, any contractors would be personally liable, even if they were acting on company orders, if they were told of the law. That might put some people off.

  7. I have spoken to the RSPB, they suggest contacting the Wildlife Crime Officer at the relevant Police Constabulary (not the council).
    They may be able to “persuade” the owners that they need to delay the destruction of the tower as they will be committing a crime if the nest has become active this season (eg nest tidying, new branches etc)

    1. I have spoken to SY Police to get contact details for Maltby WCO. I Have told them the situation …. if someone from SBSG (or elsewhere) would prefer to be contact on this going forward, i can give you the Police Case number

  8. Contact the company letting them know that demolition will be an offence again the WCA and include the maximum fine that could be issued. I would also send a copy to the local wildlife crime officer. I would also publish the contact details of the company the works site and request that people send letters of objection. Good luck

  9. Mark again from RSPB, we are meeting various folk on site tomorrow, let’s see what we can do. Had good conclusions from these situations in the past. RSPB will persue this fully. Mark

  10. Been on site earlier today, now in dialogue with works manager, local Police, local birders and Rotherham Council. We are going top keep a very close watch over next few weeks. Regards Mark

    1. Brilliant. Well done to those who flagged this up & Mark from RSPB for getting onto it quickly.
      Any hopes for a permanent reprieve for the tower ? If not, wondered if any suitable sites nearby could be found at some point for an artificial platform for future breeding seasons like on St Georges Church in Sheffield

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