Sep 20

Biodiversity is Flying High at AG

Biodiversity is Flying High at AG

AG are deeply committed to reducing the environmental impact of our operations to an absolute minimum. We’ve been working continuously for many years to both reduce our energy use and to ensure that we’re a good neighbour within the areas where our facilities are located.

As part of our commitment to the sustainable environment, our project this year is the protection and study of the peregrine falcons at our Crievehill Quarry in Northern Ireland. Conservation Officer AG Group, Ed O’Hara says:

“2016 has been a fantastic year for the falcons, with one of only two nests that have four chicks in Northern Ireland. Having gathered a lot of data over the years, the company along with the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group (NISRG) meet at the key moment before nesting begins, to identify the ledge the birds are using and reduce any disturbance to a minimum” 

Peregrine Falcons are one of the iconic birds in recent history with regards to species conservation. In the middle of the last century, its numbers suffered a catastrophic fall, due to the chemical pesticide DDT, which had been absorbed into the bodies of its prey. Just in time, DDT was banned and a gradual recovery in its population began. In 1993 the first pair arrived in our Crievehill Quarry and remained unnoticed by our staff until we had a visit from a Local Ornithologist, who observed the pair,  over the next few years. In 1996, AG was contacted by Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group [NIRSG] who wished to monitor the site on an annual basis. The company agreed and thus a partnership began.The main focus is the breeding season which begins in March and ends around the month of July when the young have left the nest and are free flying.

Over the past 23 years, we would in conjunction with the NISRG, monitor the nest ledges and use other parts of the quarry, during this time to reduce disturbance to a minimum.  Though as it is an active quarry there is always work that cannot be avoided but over time the birds have become acclimatised to all the noise and blasting associated with this work.Peregrine Falcon

2016 has been particularly successful with  four chicks raised; normally there are only two chicks that survive in a nest, largely due to prey availability. There are now 98 pairs in Northern Ireland, with the Crievehill site one of the most productive. Jim Wells of the NIRSG noted:

"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."

You can find out more about our commitment to sustainability in the Our Company section of our website.

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