Pigeons beware – falcon chicks will need feeding!

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TWITCHERS rejoice and pigeons beware – peregrine falcons are breeding in Aylesbury,

A pair of the world’s fastest animals, which can reach speeds of 200mph, have laid three eggs at the top of County Hall.

Naturalists have hailed the news and it is hoped that the chicks’ arrival at the end of April could even boost tourism to the town.

Already a web cam has been installed so people can keep an eye on the nest, and after the chicks are born events will be held in the town centre to celebrate their arrival.

Matt Dodds, biodiversity officer at Aylesbury Vale District Council, said: “It is so exciting, Aylesbury will be in the middle of something like a wildlife documentary.

“Birds will be flying around eating pigeons over Aylesbury.

“It’s going to be like watching dog fights in the Second World War, then we will be able to see them feeding the dead pigeons to their chicks. It could be fabulous.”

The web cam has already picked up the peculiar image, above, of a brave (or stupid) pigeon perched next to one of the falcons. Mr Dodds said that as peregrine falcons stoop on their prey from the air, the pigeon was in no real danger.

At the moment each falcon will eat a pigeon every other day.

“When the young hatch then five peregrines will need feeding. At its peak it could reach five pigeons a day, but that’s speculation, we have got all that to find out.”

It is thought that these are the same falcons who laid eggs in the same spot last year. Sadly, these did not hatch, but Mr Dodds is optimistic the pair will be more successful this time around.

“That was their first attempt. We presume they are young birds and often the first attempt is not successful because they are still learning and maturing.”

Mr Dodds said that County Hall also offered the birds protection from poachers.

“We should never be complacent but hopefully the location and the security associated with it, plus the staff at County Hall who are all very into the peregrines, means they should be safe.”

The district council is now planning events to celebrate the chicks’ birth.

This is likely to include a stall in the town centre giving information on the birds, showing videos and giving access to binoculars and telescopes to view them.

Mr Dodds said: “We are hoping people will come from miles around to watch the peregrines and hopefully it will bring people to the town.”

The district council, spearheaded by barn owls officer Dave Short, worked with volunteers, members of Bucks Bird Club and Buckinghamshire County Council officers to create the nesting platform in 2008.

Thanks to an anonymous donation, the council was able to purchase two web cameras, costing more than £1,000, to monitor their progress.

The cameras were installed earlier this year and footage can be viewed on the council’s website.