Wednesday March 24th
Woking’s newest Peregrine pair continue to attract a following on Twitter and webcam watchers via the website – find out more and follow them here.
While sea cliffs and upland crags were the traditional breeding habitat of the Peregrine Falcon, more recently they’ve been making their homes in towns and cities across the UK. Peregrines have graced the skies of Woking for the last 20 years, with a new pair of birds now making the town their home.
The Peregrine came close to extinction in the British Isles around 50 years ago because of toxic pesticides in their food chain. With the subsequent withdrawal of these toxins, the recovery of the Peregrine population has seen them distributed more widely and in the lowlands. Peregrines can be found nesting in quarries and on urban ‘cliffs’ such as office and residential blocks.
Peregrines have long been spotted in Woking, sparking the Woking Peregrine Project. This initiative really began to gather steam in 2015. Surrey Bird Club member and WWF employee, James Sellen, noticed a new pair and began to investigate the possibility of installing a nest box. James initially consulted with Richard Denyer, who had been observing and recording their behaviour at Woking for the past 10 years, and then John Bannister from the Guildford Environmental Forum got involved. Nick Dixon, an urban Peregrine expert, produced a detailed report recommending Export House as a suitable location for three possible nest sites. With support from Woking Borough Council and the building’s tenants, as well as consent from Natural England, the project began.
Breeding was unsuccessfully attempted in 2005 and 2006 but, with the installation of the nest box, the Peregrines have been breeding successfully since 2016.
Now that a new pair have made the nest box their home, similar success is expected in 2021.
An internal web cam records developments and has attracted a large number of followers on Twitter. Followers are encouraged to post any screengrabs of unusual or interesting behaviour, helping to build a picture of the birds’ day-to-day lives.
The information gathered is also used to help the research of one of the country’s leading Peregrine experts, Ed Drewitt.
The Peregrines are monitored via 4 webcams in total. As well as the one in the nest box, one overlooks the ledge to monitor chicks leaving the nest box, with another two watching the adults’ favoured perch on the North End of the building.
Lockdown has created a renewed interest with many viewers tuning in each day to watch the webcams. A new book has recently been published about the project and the team are excited to see how the new pair get on and hopefully start a family of their own.
The project is supported financially by Woking Borough Council, Guildford Environmental Forum, Arcom IT, Community Foundation for Surrey, Surrey Bird Club, Peregrine Cloud and Woking Shopping. Shahid Azeem, Managing Director at Arcom IT, generously finances the live stream every year, and Akiko Design host the website.