A protected bird species is thriving at one of Northern Ireland’s major quarry sites 25 years after the first pair arrived on site.
The Fivemiletown site of leading manufacturer, AG, has seen 50 Peregrine Falcons raised over a 23-year monitoring period, which began in 1996 when the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group [NIRSG] first became aware of the species on site and requested to conduct annual surveys.
Peregrine Falcons are one of the most iconic bird species in recent years with regards to conservation. In the middle of the last century their numbers suffered a catastrophic fall, due to the chemical pesticide DDT, which was being absorbed into the bodies of their prey. The substance was banned and a gradual recovery in the breed’s population began.
Three new chicks were born to the Fivemiletown falcon pair in 2018 with the NIRSG naming the site one of the most successful in Northern Ireland thanks to the measures taken by AG, as part of a six-figure biodiversity programme.
“This site has been one of the most successful sites in NI and has been pivotal in the recovery of the species in the greater Lough Erne region with over 50 young raised during the monitoring period. A fantastic conservation success story.” said a NISRG spokesman.
Ed O’ Hara, conservation manager at AG, said: “Championing biodiversity is of primary importance for AG and the measures we’ve put in place are testament to that.
“We’re extremely proud of our Peregrine Falcon family and were delighted to be part of this decades long programme, since the birds first appeared in the quarry. Our quarry managers and the conservation team ensure all employees are aware of the nest area and keep activity and noise levels to a minimum, especially during breeding season (March-July). That being said, the birds have become acclimatised to their environment very well and the breeding success of recent years is testament to that.
“We have a long history of protecting the wildlife we work alongside to uphold the natural ecosystem. We’re well aware of the importance of being a good neighbour, not just to humans, but to our native animals too.”
AG’s biodiversity team work closely with bodies such as the NIRSG and the RSPB through its six-figure biodiversity programme. Other species thriving around the company’s six sites include Sand Martins and Bees.