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Last Updated:  Saturday, 15 March, 2003, 09:50 GMT
New home for bird of prey
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrines are regaining ground
Peregrine falcons are being encouraged to breed once again at a north Wales lake.

A new nesting box for the birds of prey has been put in place on the stone dam at Lake Vyrnwy near Dinas Mawddwy.

It has been installed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which runs a nature reserve around the lake.

Peregrine falcons had been under threat since the 1960s from pesticides and persecution from landowners, but their numbers are starting to recover.

The new home at Lake Vyrnwy replaces an older box on the dam, which had become rotten after nine years.

During that time, three pairs of peregrines had nested in various parts of the reserve but the birds had not used the dilapidated box since 2000.

Mike Walker, RSPB's Senior Site Warden at Lake Vyrnwy,said: "The peregrine is a magnificently large and powerful bird.

Box installed on Lake Vyrnwy dam
Local volunteers put the box in place on Lake Vyrnwy dam

"In the past, they have suffered from persecution from gamekeepers and landowners and they have been a target for egg collectors.

"But today, we have better legal protection and this has helped the population to recover from the slump in the 1960s.

He added: "We hope that this new style nest box will attract peregrines to Lake Vyrnwy dam again this year, giving visitors a chance to see this amazing bird of prey up close and personal."

Severn Trent Water, who owns Lake Vyrnwy dam, has installed a video surveillance camera on the box to help protect the birds and to send live pictures of the birds to the RSPB shop nearby for visitors to see.

RSPB staff will be on hand throughout the breeding season to explain what is happening in the nest.

Mr Walker says the birds like to use the dam as a nesting area because it is similar to a cliff ledge, where they usually create nests in hollows in the ground.

Suitable habitat

Time will tell whether the new home is to their liking says Sian Howell, RSPB's spokesperson in Wales.

"We will know by May if it has worked.

"Spring is their breeding season and we hope we will see them back this year," she said.

Lake Vyrnwy is the RSPB's largest reserve in Wales and attracts birds of prey because of its mix of heather moorland, forest and reservoir.

As well as peregrines it provides a suitable habitat for hen harriers and red and black grouse.

Peregrines have made a slow recovery in the UK since 1960 because of better protection and the banning of the harmful pesticides.

The RSPB says their numbers are now almost back to pre-1960s levels.

They are found mainly in the north and west of Britain and the 1,300 breeding pairs in the UK account for about 20% of the European population.

The new style nest box is designed along similar lines to those used in North America, where they have been very successful.

Peregrine falcon chicks stolen
30 May 02 |  England

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