Longford volunteers needed for national Peregrine survey

Survey aims to determine how many Peregrine falcons nest in Ireland

Longford Leader

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Longford volunteers needed for national Peregrine survey

Survey aims to determine how many Peregrine falcons nest in Ireland. Photo by David McNicholas

Irish Raptor Study Group (IRSG) are working closely with the National Parks and Widlife Servicve (NPWS) to coordiante a national Peregrine Falcon breeding survey in 2017, and volunteers are needed in Longford.

The survey aims to determine how many Peregrines nest in Ireland. The last complete survey was carried out in 2002. This survey estimated there were 390 occupied breeding territories in Ireland, with two of these based in county Longford.

Peregrines are large powerful falcons with a medium length tail and pointed wings. Adult birds are blueish-grey on the back and have white finely barred underparts. The face is mainly white with a very distinct black moustache. Another key identification point is their screeching call, often heard while circling overhead.

Typical nest sites include coastal cliffs, upland crags and rocky outcrops and in recent years have been found nesting in quarries and on man-made structures (e.g. church spires, buildings, castles, tower houses).

"Peregrine are protected both under Irish and European legislation. This means there is an obligation on the state to monitor the health of the population at a national level, with coverage of all counties," said survey coordinator Jen Lynch of the search for Longford falcons.

"There has been no survey of Longford since 2002, so we do not know how Peregrine are fairing in the area. The current survey will bring us up to date on how the population is faring."

The survey runs from mid March to mid July with visits timed during specific periods to determine occupancy and breeding success.

So far there has been a great response to the IRSG request for help, but more volunteers are needed across the country to increase coverage and get a better understanding of these fearsome birds of prey.

There are a number of way for volunteers to get involved:

  • Monitor a specific survey area (5x5km square)
  • Check suitable buildings in your local area
  • Send sightings of Peregrines to the IRSG

Peregrines can be subject to illegal activity such as persecution and egg and chick theft. In order to minimize these threats, sensitive information about nest location should be kept confidential and sent in confidence to the IRSG. If you observe any suspicious activity, this should be reported immediately to your local wildlife ranger or the IRSG.

To register and get started, contact Jen Lynch - monitoring@irsg.ie. All information will be provided and no experience is necessary.