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Sad news from the peregrines of Tewkesbury Abbey; the perils of interfering with nature

At Tewkesbury Abbey, in Gloucestershire, peregrines have taken up residence in the tower. The first bird was spotted there in 2011, and a nesting tray was added to encourage the birds to stay put. Since then, peregrines have returned to the tower every year, and in 2018 managed to successfully raise a chick.

The birds on the tower have changed slightly over the years – the original female disappeared, but since then another has taken her place. As the original male and female were both ringed, the BTO were able to trace their origins, and since then the peregrines have been monitored by the BTO, which includes ringing the chicks to enable them to track the birds once they have fledged.

This year, the peregrine pair had 4 eggs, resulting in the hatching of 3 chicks at the beginning of May. Just last week, ringing of the chicks was organised, with an experienced and BTO-licensed ringer working alongside volunteers from the British Mountaineering Council, who enabled access to the nest.

Sadly, things did not go entirely to plan; one chick moved away from the nest tray and fell. This was an avoidable accident, which sadly resulted in the death of one peregrine chick. However, although handling of chicks and raptors should be avoided, the benefits of having birds ringed – in terms of following their progress and their behaviours – are huge.

But just imagine – this is one incident involved some of the most experienced bird ringers in the country, yet still one of the chicks was lost.

Tim Birch of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust camps near a hen harrier nest in the Peak District

The problem is that even when humans have the best intentions, they can often end up causing damage. This will always be a potential cost of human intervention in nature; but just imagine how much damage can be done by potentially well-meaning people who simply don't have the experience of trained ornithologists. The most common interference comes from those individuals who think they are just observing nests, but in fact the mere presence of individuals often leads to disturbances and even the nest to fail. A sadly too common site, particularly in our uplands.

You can follow the Tewkesbury Abbey peregrines on the camera feed here:


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