Peregrine Falcons breed chicks on old Shredded Wheat silos

PUBLISHED: 12:15 16 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:20 16 September 2020

The three well-developed chicks together on the ledge: Picture: Barry Trevis

The three well-developed chicks together on the ledge: Picture: Barry Trevis

Barry Trevis

For the first time ever Peregrine Falcons have bred in Welwyn Garden City’s town centre.

Wing flapping juvenile female. Picture: Barry TrevisWing flapping juvenile female. Picture: Barry Trevis

The pair of the fastest bird in the world have raised three chicks in the former Shredded Wheat site now Wheat Quarter.

John West on behalf of the Wheat Quarter site owners said: “There has always been so much interest in the Peregrine Falcons, we’ve been delighted to support the Wildlife Conservation Partnership and their successful efforts to support the breeding.”

The former Shredded Wheat silos has attracted Peregrines intermittently over the past seven years.

In the spring of 2014 a pair was seen regularly on the factory’s high level walkways, but they never bred.

The female with three small chicks in the nest tray. Picture: Barry TrevisThe female with three small chicks in the nest tray. Picture: Barry Trevis

The silos once again saw a pair of Peregrines frequenting the high-level ledges in the spring of 2019.

Although the birds appeared to ‘go through the motions’ of breeding in 2019 it was considered one of these was a very immature bird and breeding did not occur.

Colin Shawyer of the Wildlife Conservation Partnership and local ornithologist and colleague, Barry Trevis, closely monitored the behaviour of this pair in order to advise the owners on the likelihood of their imminent breeding at the site. In the early part of 2020 the Peregrine pair had returned.

With the prospect of work on the conversion and refurbishment work not immediately commencing on that part of the development site, Wheat Quarter supported the recommendation of Barry and Colin to install a shingle-filled nesting tray at high level in the hope the birds would take to this and breed successfully.

Close-up of full-grown juvenile female on ledge. Picture: Barry TrevisClose-up of full-grown juvenile female on ledge. Picture: Barry Trevis

The nest tray was fitted in early March this year and the birds took to it straight away, and by May three chicks had hatched.

After three weeks they were ringed by Barry and a colleague, both licensed bird ringers. Ringing enables the monitoring of breeding success, survival and the dispersal/movements of the birds.

By June the chicks were taking short flights and now they have fledged from the nest completely but remain in the vicinity and can often be seen flying high over The Wheat Quarter while honing their hunting skills.

It is likely the young birds will disperse away from the area in the autumn and the Peregrine pair will return to breed again in spring next year.

The adult femal flying above Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Yves GisseleireThe adult femal flying above Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Yves Gisseleire

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Close-up of female Peregrine. Picture: Tom SpellerClose-up of female Peregrine. Picture: Tom Speller


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