To start the weekend off on a positive note, I thought I would share a wonderful story I found this morning. It really shows the spectacular resilience of nature.
‘When the City of Cape Town made the decision to demolish the two Athlone Cooling Towers due to safety reasons early this year, many residents were concerned about what would happen to the pair of Peregrine Falcons that had made the towers their home. Now, almost three months after the demolition, these fears have been allayed with the successful hatching of three chicks in the new nest boxes that have been installed on the chimney stacks.
Peregrine Falcons (Falco Peregrinus) have inhabited the City’s Athlone Power Station property for 20 years. The Peregrine is a rare and threatened bird species that occurs sparsely in South Africa, but is relatively common around Cape Town. The Peregine’s natural habitat includes gorges and cliffs, but they have moved into the urban area over the last two decades, and are nesting on various buildings across the city.
Dr. Andrew Jenkins, a consultant ornithologist (Avisense Consulting) and research associate at UCT’s Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithhology, installed three nesting boxes on the Athlone Cooling Towers as part of his doctorial studies in 1989 to provide them with a safe place to breed. Peregrine Falcons have inhabited the nest boxes ever since, and a breeding pair was still occupying the one remaining nest box when the decision was made to demolish the towers.
Jenkins identified two new nesting box locations as potentially suitable to the falcons’ needs, to replace the nest box that was soon to be demolished. It was decided that one new nest box was to be placed on the western chimney stack, and another on the eastern end of the power station building.
Specially designed platforms were erected on both the chimney stack and the building with the help of rope access specialists. The nesting boxes were placed on the platforms, which would also allow sufficient space for falcon chicks to exercise before their first flight.
The installation of the new nesting boxes was completed in mid-June this year. According to Jenkins, the Peregrines started to explore the new nest boxes as possible nest sites for the 2010 season soon after they were placed. Their adoption of the replacement accommodation was so complete that by the time the demolition actually took place on 22 August, the falcons had become largely based on the stacks, and they were actually seen mating on top of the western chimney only eight minutes after the destruction of the towers.
By the middle of September the behaviour of the birds suggested that they were incubating a clutch of eggs at the stack’s nest box. Successful breeding was confirmed when Jenkins and rope access expert Jacques Maree (Toprope) visited the site on 05 November. Jenkins and Maree found three healthy chicks in the box, just over three weeks old.
The chicks were fitted with numbered and colour rings as part of Jenkins’ research on the greater Cape Town population of this spectacular and resilient species.’
Source: Martin Pollack. http://www.capetown.gov.za