Urban Falcons

category_diary80URBAN FALCONS – This week I returned to my old day job – presenting wildlife documentaries. This one was for a BBC2 series called Urban Jungle that’ll probably air in July. We were filming a truly spectacular bird, the peregrine falcon, which has come back almost from the brink of extermination in this country.iPhoto Library

What is incredible about peregrines – apart from their beauty and speed – is their adaptability. Originally a coastal dwelling bird, they’ve started nesting in city centres. Derby led the way by fixing a nesting tray to the cathedral back in 2006.  You can see the chicks in their nest on a live feed here.

DSCN6179_instantWe watched – my heart was in my mouth – as Martin Room abseiled from the cathedral spire down to the nest to gather the chicks for ringing. The chicks are ringed so that they can be traced as adults.

DSCN6208_instantThe chicks’ DNA is sent to Dr David Hughes from Nottingham University. David runs a  unique study looking at peregrine genetics – by creating a DNA database he’ll be able to track birds throughout the country, as well as combating wildlife crime  – by cross referencing samples collected by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust with those taken by police during investigations into suspected theft of chicks and eggs.

DSCN6187_instantWhat’s really brilliant about the Nottingham project is that they have a high definition webcams trained on their resident peregrine pair – you can control the cameras over the internet yourself so you can see if one of the parents has landed on a ledge with a pigeon, or a chick has rolled under the nest camera! Watch here.

And if the chicks doze off, take a look at their YouTube highlights.

 

 

As for us, it was an interesting shoot, to say the least – astounding to look into a 2.5 week old peregrine chick’s eyes, ward off drunks in the city centre, and shelter from torrential rain outside a disused power station. Oh the glamour of telly.

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