Breeding peregrine falcons
We try to let nature go its own way as much as possible on and around the Dow site in Terneuzen. But where necessary we also like to lend a hand. For example, in 2004, together with the Zeeland Bird of Prey Task Force, we put up a nesting box for peregrine falcons on our LPG tanks. A peregrine falcon soon came to nest in the box and since then we have had yearly breeding success. That means that every year a few young of this special bird of prey are raised.
The Bird of Prey Task Force weighs and measures the young, determines the sex and rings them before the young fly out. They stay around the nest for several months and then leave for new habitats. Cees van Houwelingen, Operations Regulatory Services Leader at Dow, keeps an eye on them: ““The moment I spot the peregrine falcon again, I always report it to the birds of prey group, so they know when they can go and see if there are eggs. Christiaan Hiensch, Technology Leader at Dow and employee at Werkgroep Raptors Zeeland explains what happens next. "If there are eggs, we can estimate when those eggs will hatch. This year three peregrine falcons were born at the end of April. We then examine the fry and they were in good condition, as were the parents. Then we will ring them. That ringing is always a fun moment. The hatchlings have a high cuddle factor.”
From opposition to cooperation
The nice thing about working with a bird of prey task force like this is that historically, nature groups were often seen as a potential adversary in the permitting process of a new project. The beauty is that we are now working together to restore the population of a special bird of prey. Cees says: “Peregrine falcons usually have nests at a great height and we don't have that many high, natural heights in the Netherlands. With that LPG tank, we actually created an artificial high rock wall with the large concrete wall, which offered opportunities for a nesting place for the peregrine falcons at that location. In 2004 there were not very many registered breeding pairs left in the Netherlands. With the breeding pair in this box, we have been contributing to the recovery of the peregrine falcon population in the low countries for years now.”