What is the technical term for telecommunications tower

Top location for the peregrine falcons

Dramas play out over the heads of unsuspecting citizens. A robbery, a child killing, envy, jealousy and a fight with a fatal outcome. There is only one man in the whole of Bremen who has observed and documented all of this, and who can tell a lot about it: Sven Eppler from Walle, the friend of the peregrine falcons on the Bremen telecommunications tower. There has been a lot going on up there in recent years. Because the same applies to the peregrine falcons: they all want to go to Walle.

But let's start from the beginning. For ten years, the radio tower on Utbremer Straße was the home of Bayo and Cilla. Year after year, the pair of peregrine falcons raised their offspring at a height of 100 meters. In spring 2014, however, female falcon Cilla was driven away by a younger woman. The sturdy Scandinavian female was found dead shortly afterwards. Eppler's original suspicion that she had been poisoned was not confirmed. Rather, an autopsy revealed that the cause of death was an organic disease. A week later, Bayo found new happiness with the female hawk Shadow. For three years the two tried hard but unsuccessfully to produce offspring. After an aggressive dogfight with a strange female hawk in January of this year, Shadow was never seen again. But the new one could not look forward to her victory for long. She died almost four weeks later, presumably as a result of the confrontation. For Bayo, now at the age of 16, in the advanced senior age of the falcon, it was all too much. After a total of 13 years, the tercelium, as male birds of prey are called, left its regular place this spring. “He just gave up,” says Sven Eppler. He would have had no chance against the young falcon who was already standing in front of the front door.

Photo: Roland Scheitz

It only took a day before the successor was happily in a relationship with a young, pretty hawk lady. At the end of March there were already two eggs in the Waller nest box - the first for three years. But just a week later, the eggs were destroyed. An unknown hawk had attacked the incubator when the parent birds were both out of the house for a short time. “That would never have happened to experienced hawks!” Explains the expert. "They would not have let their brood out of sight for a second." The female hawk was then completely traumatized and only dared to return to the radio tower after a whole week.

Sven Eppler knows all this very well because he has been spending up to seven hours in front of the nest box every day for twelve years on a voluntary basis and with a special permit from the tower operator. He has the time - a serious illness ended the professional life of the trained lathe operator. In addition, an almost infinite patience and an equally great respect for nature. It is only in this combination that the highly sensitive birds can be viewed up close. Over time, he has taken more than 300,000 photos and more than 14,000 videos through a tiny, well-camouflaged peephole. And even if in some pictures it looks like they're looking him straight in the eye: the peregrine falcons don't know anything about it. You have never seen or heard of him. “The crunch of a shoe, the click of a camera, and they're gone before you know it,” says Eppler. In contrast, the 55-year-old Waller is well known in specialist circles and in the media. Some of his photos now adorn book covers, and a national television team visited him last year.

But not only in Walle it was not a good year for the falcons, knows Eppler, who co-founded the association "Peregrine Falcon Protection North Germany" ten years ago. Of the seven breeding grounds for falcons in Bremen, only four were occupied this year with pairs of falcons, which together raised just three chicks. That is unusually little. The Waller falcon protector sees the reason that the Bremen falcons make life difficult for each other, and because of the sheer stress, reproduction is neglected. "There was too much disruption, destruction". For him there is no question that the Waller radio tower plays a major role in these disputes. It is so hard-fought from autumn to spring because it is Bremen's top location for peregrine falcons. The height of the incubator and its orientation, the fact that it is wind and weather protected and at the greatest possible distance from anything that disturbs the sensitive birds make it an object of desire. It is not for nothing that the Waller site is “the best-incubated tower in the republic”: According to Eppler, 63 chicks have hatched here in the past 20 years. The other locations at the Hafen and Hastedt power plants, at the steelworks, the upturned chest of drawers, at the East Hospital and at a factory building in Überseestadt cannot keep up. The other hawks know that.

Photo: Sven Eppler

Nevertheless, Eppler is confident. He firmly assumes that the offspring will work out in the coming year and that the young couple will defend their place and their brood. And at the latest when the sky over Utbremen is calm again, the two Waller peregrine falcons should also get their names.

In 1989 the first cardboard box with young birds arrived in the Waller radio tower. The staff on the tower had agreed to feed the little falcons every day. Laypeople often confuse peregrine falcons with the much smaller - and more common - kestrels. Although they once lived on the Waller TV tower, they steer clear of the building since the first wild breeding pair moved into the TV tower in 1997: “Falco peregrinus” - the scientific name - does not tolerate neighbors. Peregrine falcons are between 35 and 50 centimeters tall and have a wingspan of up to 120 centimeters. They feed on small to medium-sized birds and hunt their prey in the air. They can dive at speeds of up to 320 km / h. At the beginning of the 1970s, peregrine falcons were considered almost extinct in Germany. The contamination of their food with the pesticide DDT has been proven to be the cause of the falcon deaths. Thanks to active falcon protection, the population has now increased again to an estimated 1200 German breeding pairs. But not all of the young birds survive the first year. In the city, streets, glass facades, railway lines and railroad tracks are their greatest enemies. The Waller TV tower is not open to the public. However, interested parties can view many spectacular photos and films on Sven Eppler's homepage www.naturfotografie-eppler.de. For this autumn he is also preparing a new slide lecture, which will be shown in the Findorffer Martin Luther Congregation. For everyone who would like to see Waller Peregrine Falcons live and in action, Eppler has a tip: If you can take your time in the morning between 6 and 8 a.m. and look towards the radio tower on the parallel path, you will see the falcons on their morning hunting flights. You can find more information about the Association of Peregrine Falcon Protection in Northern Germany at www.wsn-ev.de.