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A deep dive into the world of peregrine falcons


Peregrine falcons nesting at ORLEN Unipetrol Group sites have had an outstanding year. Ten chicks of this critically endangered species were born on four chimneys in Litvínov, Kralupy nad Vltavou, and Neratovice. Between March and June, those interested could watch the courtship dances, brooding, raising up the young, and many other exciting moments live at www.starameseosokoly.cz. Ornithologist Václav Beran of ALKA Wildlife has been regularly monitoring the peregrine couples’ life stories since 2011. During the project, a total of 40 chicks have been born. Their fate can also be further followed thanks to their ringing.  

“We at ORLEN Unipetrol have been long seeking to minimise the impact of our operations on the environment and encourage its protection. We want to be emissions-neutral by 2050. Last year alone, the costs of greening projects totalled CZK 2 billion. They also include the projects supporting the environment, such as the peregrine falcon nesting, stocking the rivers Bílina and Elbe with fish, and beekeeping,” sums up Katarzyna Woś, Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the ORLEN Unipetrol Group. She adds: “We have been caring for the rare raptors at ORLEN Unipetrol for 11 years. This year was the biggest success in terms of the new chicks born. Over the years, we have seen 40 chicks, which significantly contributes to increasing the critically endangered population of peregrine falcons. It was also our achievement that the number of peregrines living in the wild in the Czech Republic has grown from 80 to 110 pairs in recent years. Although it is amazing progress, the number of peregrines remains low, which is why we will continue our efforts.”

Incognito nesting

The Chempark production site in Záluží near Litvínov could boast five peregrine chicks this year. Two pairs resided on the local chimneys, which makes the chemical plant a unique location on the ornithologic map of the Czech Republic because peregrines do not usually nest so close to each other. Two females and one male were born on the T700 plant’s chimney. In a Facebook competition, they were named Mia, Žofinka, and Falco. They could be watched online at www.starameseosokoly.cz. The peregrines nesting in the other part of the Litvínov site – the steam cracker – had long been wrapped in mystery. Their chicks were born as the last in the entire Group. Their parents also planned three babies here because ornithologists had found a third, unfertilised egg in the nest, yet the nature arranged it differently. The young left home to acquire experience in July, and they are expected to nest in about three years.

The girls are big travellers

The Kralupy Refinery saw new additions after a one-year break. “Although the female laid three eggs in March, we saw only two chicks in the box in the end – one girl and one boy. They were in excellent condition, and they received two rings each: one ornithologic ring and a second one, which can be read remotely with binoculars or a photo trap,” describes ornithologist Václav Beran of ALKA Wildlife. The rings are helpful to monitor their future life, where they move, with whom they nest, if they are faithful, and other juicy details from their life. While males mostly move around their native heath, females are big travellers and fly out to explore distant landscapes. Thus, Czech peregrines could be observed in Germany and even in France.

Leasehold is not for everyone

The peregrines in Spolana Neratovice have “pulled the employees’ leg” this year. First, they settled in a box on a column in the other part of the premises, i.e., outside the online camera’s finder. They pushed out the original tenants – kestrels. Therefore, it was impossible to find out how many chicks had been born. “The female was flying up with a caught pigeon before we started climbing up the column. In the end, she sat on the opposite cooling tower, observing us. In the meantime, we found three peregrine teenagers in the box. So, we ringed them amid their loud squeaking. They were almost feathered but calm, so everything went on as planned,” comments Václav Beran. Pigeons occupied the original box in the end. Yet, they did not remain long because peregrine falcons are territorial birds, which is why they came to restore respect once the young were born. 

The ORLEN Unipetrol Group is the largest refinery and petrochemical company in the Czech Republic. It focuses on crude oil processing and the production, distribution and sale of vehicle fuels and petrochemical products – particularly plastics and fertilisers. In all these areas, it belongs among the critical players in the Czech and Central European markets. The ORLEN Unipetrol Group encompasses refineries and production plants in Litvínov and Kralupy nad Vltavou, Paramo, with its Mogul brand in Pardubice, Spolana Neratovice, and two research centres in Litvínov and Brno. ORLEN Unipetrol also includes a network of Benzina ORLEN filling stations in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. With 420 filling stations, Benzina ORLEN is the largest chain in the Czech Republic. Since its entry in 2019 to Slovakia, Benzina ORLEN has been one of the fastest-growing chains and currently has 20 stations in its network. ORLEN Unipetrol employs more than 4,800 people. In 2005, ORLEN Unipetrol became a member of the ORLEN Group, the largest crude oil processor in Central Europe. In addition to its business development, ORLEN Unipetrol is proud to be a socially responsible corporation. Therefore, it pays an equal amount of attention to initiatives, focusing on the cultivation and support of sustainable development, education, local communities, and the environment.

Contact: Pavel Kaidl, spokesman, telephone: +420 736 502 520, e-mail: pavel.kaidl@unipetrol.cz

Kroužkování sokolů ve Spolaně.jpg
Sokoli na komínu etylenové jednotky.jpg
Sokoli na komínu teplárny T700.jpg
Tři sokolí kluci ve Spolaně.jpg

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