Close Encounters of the Bird Kind


Its that time of year again!  Every March I take part in a free event in Walsall Town Centre, where along with some of the staff from Walsall Countryside Services and volunteers from the Black Country and Staffordshire Naturalists group, I spend the day showing off Walsall’s pride and joy – our resident pair of Peregrine Falcons.

0128_Lunchtime Visitors at Tameway

Peregrine Watch has, to be honest, been far more successful than I anticipated.  In 2011 when I found out that the birds were often seen on the 12th floor of Tameway Tower, I thought that a day watching the birds from inside the building would be a great way to publicise the birds’ presence, and what a conservation success they are.  We set up the event with ‘sky team’ up inside the then vacant 12th floor, and ‘ground team’ outside the Town Hall tower watching the birds.  Sky team had 50+ visitors that day, and ground team 200+, and we managed to ascertain that there were not two, but three birds, one of which was probably one of 2010’s fledglings still hanging around mum and dad.


2011 was also the year that we first inspected the Town Hall tower and found out where the birds were nesting.  That year, the female ran into some trouble, when she was found outside the library suffering from what the RSPCA determined was nerve damage, which we could only assume was poison.  She was eventually released again, but in the time she spent off the nest, her eggs had died, one in the process of hatching.


In 2012 the birds did not attempt to breed at the Town Hall.  In spite of this, the birds still stayed in the town centre, and Peregrine Watch II was a great success – this time held with ‘ground team’ outside the library, and ‘sky team’ on the 4th floor of the New Art Gallery, where we were joined by the birds of the S&D Falconry centre.  The Deputy Mayor visited, and an estimated 600+ people joined us on the day.


In an effort to encourage the birds to try to breed again, we have installed a nest box with a camera this year, and we are going to be recording their progress (if it happens!).  It may take until next year or longer for the birds to become accustomed to the nest box and use it, but all my fingers are crossed.  This year the New Art Gallery are hosting Peregrine Watch III– hard to believe that this time next week it will all be over again for another year!  We are changing some things – including the day!  This year is the first Peregrine Watch to take place on a weekend!  We will have live birds of prey joining us from the lovely people at Gentleshaw Wildlife Centre, as well as stalls from the Wildlife Trust and Focus Optics.  We’re hoping for lots more social media activity this year – as always, you can follow (and participate in) the event on twitter with the hashtag #WS1Perries – and we hope to broadcast live video feed from the event – watch this space!


So if you’d like to be a part of the celebrations this year, drop into the New Art Gallery on Saturday (March 9th) from 10am – 3pm and say ‘Hi’ to the volunteers, staff and special feathered guest stars!

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