Arched high above Wick quarry floor in Gloucestershire on the steep rock face, a pair of rare peregrine falcons has made a home and laid three eggs. Only one of the three eggs has hatched despite Mum's (named Penny by the quarry workers) best efforts.
All this activity has been watched live 24/7on a webcam, thanks to an ambitious project using the latest internet technology. The webcam was set up at the quarry and the camera attached to the rock face before the peregrines began nesting.
Their nesting and fledging activities are recorded day and night to enable valuable research to be undertaken. The falcons, said to be the fastest species of bird in the world reaching speeds exceeding 180 kilometres an hour, find quarries to be the ideal habitat for nesting.
They generally select isolated protected areas near good hunting grounds with the nest simply scraped out of a shallow depression. A pair of falcons will usually return to the same nest year after year.
This is the tenth successive year that the birds have returned to Wick. Also nesting at the site are ravens and kestrels. John Morris, Wildspace! Partnership Project Officer for South Gloucestershire Council said: "We are all enjoying watching these magnificent birds through the website, www.peregrinewatch.info. This valuable project will allow us to build up a picture of how these amazing birds live".
CEMEX assistant quarry manager and keen bird watcher, Ben Staff, said: "The quarry is home to a wide range of wildlife including these birds, illustrating just some of the benefits that aggregate extraction can bring to the local environment. We are very protective of the peregrines and are proud to be part of the project."
The project has been set up by South Gloucestershire council working with the friends of Wick Golden Valley Local Nature Reserve, the Hawk and Owl Trust and CEMEX UK Operations. West country-based wildlife surveillance company Eco-Watch also assists with the monitoring of the birds.
The young chick will be able to fly after about 35-40 days after hatching but will remain dependent on the adults for several weeks after they leave the nest. The webcam will continue to monitor the birds until August when the birds will leave the site.
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Telephone: 01932 583214