13 June 2012
Media and Communications Officer
An innovative webcam project has captured the arrival of several new fluffy faces at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
For the past 4 weeks, hundreds of visitors have been following the breeding season of a sparrowhawk pair, nesting within the Garden.
Late on Monday evening (11th June) and for much of yesterday (12th June) their wait ended when four of the six eggs began to hatch.
Dedicated project volunteer Michael Christie, who was the first to spot the big moment and alert project staff, said: “I was sitting at the computer at around 7 o'clock on Monday evening, after a day at work at the RSPB Loch Leven reserve. I was watching the female sparrowhawk sitting incubating her clutch of six eggs when I noticed her fidgeting with an empty egg shell, which meant her eggs were beginning to hatch. I was very excited to witness the first egg hatching and even more so as it is my first time volunteering on this project.”
Claire Powell, RSPB Scotland Sparrowhawk Information Officer, added: “As the female was incubating eggs when the cameras started rolling we couldn’t be entirely sure when to expect any hatching so we’ve been on red alert for most of the week!
“It’s a real privilege to see this special moment and we’re delighted that thanks to the webcam, we could share it with people across the world.
Claire continued, “We’re very much looking forward to introducing the new family to our visitors and following their fortunes during those all important first few months. Last year’s nest was one of the most productive in Edinburgh so we’ve got high hopes for the class of 2012!”
The project, believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland, is a partnership between RSPB Scotland, The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Lothian and Borders Raptor Study Group and the Scottish Seabird Centre.
Visitors to the Scottish Seabird Centre can also view the sparrowhawk family thanks to a live video link up between both attractions.
A special free talk about sparrowhawks at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh will be held on the today (Wednesday 13th June 5.30-6.30pm) at the Lecture Theatre 20A Inverleith Row
For more information about the Edinburgh Sparrowhawks Date With Nature and to view our live web camera visit www.rspb.org.uk/datewithnature/278092-edinburgh-sparrowhawks.
· For more information about sparrowhawks and other birds of prey in Edinburgh and to report sightings visit www.edinburghhawkwatch.org.uk
· The Edinburgh Sparrowhawk Date With Nature will run every Wednesday - Sunday from 1pm-4pm between 12th May – 31st August.
· Sparrowhawks are mainly associated with woodland habitats, but as their population size has increased throughout the UK they are making the most of green spaces in urban locations such as Edinburgh which provide plenty of appropriate sites for them to build nests and hunt small birds.
· Previous work on sparrowhawks in Edinburgh showed that there were between 20 and 30 pairs breeding in the area.
· Sparrowhawks are protected in the UK under a piece of legislation called the Wildlife and Countryside Act. This means that it is against the law to harm a Sparrowhawk in any way and to damage their nests or the contents of the nest.