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The story of Unipetrol falcons: An only chick; hidden nesting; a female without a partner and emigration to Germany

21-08-2019  

Litvínov, August 21, 2019 – The peregrine falcons living in some of the five nesting sites on Unipetrol chimneys in Litvínov, Kralupy nad Vltavou and Neratovice face various life situations. Their stories are being caught by ornithologist Václav Beran of the ALKA Wildlife association through cams and ringing. However, it is impossible to observe everything with absolute accuracy because the falcons are extremely shy, and so their maximum comfort is the ultimate goal of all activities. This year, the falcons successfully nestled in Spolana Neratovice and the Litvínov Refinery. A total of 25 chicks of this critically endangered species have been born on Unipetrol’s sites since 2011.
 
“At the Unipetrol Group, we seek to minimise the impact of our production on the environment and take a proactive approach to environmental protection. We spend about one billion korunas every year on the modernisation of our production operations and activities related to environmental protection. The breeding of falcons and regular fish releases in the Elbe and Bílina are only a small, yet more visible and likeable fragment of our activities,” summarises Pavel Sláma, Director of the EKO Unit of Unipetrol.
 
Peregrine falcons regularly return to Unipetrol’s production plants for several years. At Litvínov, two nesting boxes are available – on more than 100 m high chimneys at the boiler house and steam cracker because they prefer places at the top where they can see everything around. Moreover, they regularly nestle in Kralupy and Neratovice. Each year, young falcons go out to the world. What are the stories of some of them?
 
An only chick at Spolana
The female peregrine falcon has been nesting in Neratovice for four years, but she has found a partner only this year. The pair nestled on an 80-metre chimney of the former exhalation purification plant and together, they had a happy moment in the end – the female laid an egg halfway through April and a couple of weeks later, the first peregrine falcon ever was born in Spolana. “At the end of April, one chick was born which we banded and now we can monitor its movements. It spent about 40-45 days in the box and then it left the nest. However, we do not know anything about its next whereabouts, but I believe it is doing well,” says ornithologist Václav Beran of the ALKA Wildlife association who takes care of peregrine falcons every year.
 
Hidden nesting on the chimney of boiler house in Litvínov
Chempark in Záluží u Litvínova is the most popular destination with peregrine falcons of all Unipetrol sites. The critically endangered predators have been regularly returning to Chempark since 2011 and they have brought into the world a total of 24 chicks. This time, they were nesting in such a hidden place on the chimney that the exact number of chicks could not be determined despite the cam and observations. “The presence of the chicks is obvious from the remnants of the prey and the scope of use of the box. At least one chick must have left the box. It is very likely that there were more of them, but they managed to hide very well. Peregrine falcons are very shy, so it is not always possible to get exact information,” Václav Beran noted after the July inspection of the nesting box.
 
Female on the steam cracker left on the shelf
A story with a bit less happier ending could be seen in the second nesting box in Chempark. While three chicks were born on the steam cracker last year, this year was not that successful. Although the female could be seen on the premises, she did not manage to find a partner. “It is a pity that the other female did not have any chick but that’s life. I hope we will be successful next year,” says Václav Beran. A similar situation occurred in Kralupy nad Vltavou this year where they observed a complete pair, but it did not raise any chicks.
 
Emigration to Germany
Young peregrine falcons remain in the nest for about two months and then they leave the box. Some of them nestle in the close vicinity, others are big travellers. For instance, one male which was born in Unipetrol. “My colleague observed him in the fields close to Dresden. It is very likely that he found home in Germany but we do not know his exact location,” Václav Beran added. Other peregrine falcons are not very keen on travelling. One male from Unipetrol has been nesting in the Čížkovice cement works for three years, and another one nestled in the glassworks in Teplice where they had four chicks this year.
 
  
 

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The Unipetrol Group is the largest refinery and petrochemical company in the Czech Republic. It focuses primarily on crude oil processing, distribution and sale of fuel and petrochemical products — particularly plastics and fertilisers. In all these fields, the group is a key player on both the Czech and Central European market. The Unipetrol Group includes refineries and production plants in Litvínov and Kralupy nad Vltavou, Paramo with the Mogul brand in Pardubice and Kolín, Spolana in Neratovice, and two research centres in Litvínov and Brno. Unipetrol also owns the Benzina network of petrol stations with 413 stations, which is the largest chain in the Czech Republic. Unipetrol is one of the largest companies in the Czech Republic in terms of turnover. The group created revenue of over CZK 130 billion last year and employs more than 4800 people. In 2005, Unipetrol became part of the PKN Orlen Group, the largest crude oil processor in Central Europe.
 
Contact:
Pavel Kaidl, Spokesperson, phone: +420 225 001 407, +420 736 502 520, e-mail: pavel.kaidl@unipetrol.cz

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