New brood of three peregrine falcons nesting at New Milton water tower
NEW Milton water tower is hosting its latest brood of peregrine falcon chicks.
The rare and protected birds have set up home on the 30-metre landmark operated by Bournemouth Water since 2017, producing a fresh generation each time.
Three of the chicks, known as eyases, hatched this year and have all survived their first few weeks.
All of them have been ringed so they can be identified once they have flown the nest.
Saska McGrath, Bournemouth Water's national environmental programme and climate change manager, said: “Although peregrines never nested in Hampshire until 1993, their numbers have gradually increased as they are taking advantage of manmade structures, so we’re thrilled that three more chicks will join the peregrine population this year.
“We’ve faced a lot of challenges over the last five years, such as figuring out how to install a nesting box without compromising the operations of the water tower or disturbing the birds during maintenance work.”
Over the past five years a total of 16 chicks have been hatched from the New Milton breeding pair.
Bournemouth Water this year invested in a new nesting box, made from glass reinforced plastic, to provide a safe breeding site for the falcons in years to come.
Keith Betton, Hampshire Ornithological Society chair and the county’s official bird recorder, first noticed a pair of peregrines on the tower in September 2016.
After he alerted Bournemouth Water, it was decided to place a box in the turret to encourage the birds to nest undisturbed.
“These precious birds are living alongside us and doing well,” Mr Betton said. “It’s a terrific success story, and it is great to have them in New Milton."
Protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, around 25 breeding pairs of peregrine falcon have been recorded in Hampshire this year.
The chicks fledge after 35-42 days and are independent two months later.
A live webcam stream of the tower chicks can be viewed at bournemouthwater.co.uk/falcons