The National Trust for Jersey is delighted to announce that peregrine falcon chicks were ringed at a nest site for the first time in Jersey since the species became locally extinct.
The breeding site, on a stretch of Trust land on the north coast, has been monitored by a team of local ornithologists for the last few weeks. The chicks have been fitted with individually marked rings for future identification, during an operation where other data was collected such as biological measurements and prey remains.
The peregrine falcon, a top predator of the skies once common in the British Isles and Europe, almost became extinct in the second half of the 20th century due to persecution and the use of pesticides that caused a fatal thinning of their eggs’ shell. The disappearance of peregrines on the coastal cliffs of Jersey at the end of the 1950’s may have been caused by the same reasons.
Thankfully the ban of the pesticide DDT and the legal protection awarded to the species allowed it to recover world-wide and eventually make a comeback to Jersey, where a new breeding pair was found in the year 2000. Since then, other pairs have settled on the cliffs of the north and west coast. The falcons have been given the Amber Status of conservation, which reflects the small yet seemingly stable population
This year the island population stands at seven pairs of Peregrine falcons, of which five are found on the north coast (two of them on Trust land and two others at Sites of Special Interest). So far this year only four out of the seven pairs have bred successfully, having raised three chicks each, which have already fledged. Up until now only fledglings that got themselves into trouble and had to be rescued had been fitted with the metal rings, but this the first time since peregrines returned to Jersey that a team of experts has been able to monitor a nest and ring the chicks.
The information from bird-ringing projects like this helps scientists and conservationists to learn about issues such as migration, lifespan and breeding ecology. It is hoped that in the future more chicks will be fitted with the same rings and help us further our knowledge of this species’ ecology in Jersey.
The presence of peregrine falcons at a certain area indicates a dynamic food chain and a healthy natural community. The National Trust undertakes active management on its land on the north coast and sees the success of this species as a sign of the recovery of the coastal habitats. It is hoped that we will be able to enjoy the sight of a peregrine falcon cruising the cliffs for many generations to come.