Nestboxes Near Highways Produce 69 Young
Results from the Trust’s Kestrel Highways Project continue to be encouraging in some parts of the country, although the very wet weather in 2012 will have affected both nesting and post-fledging survival.
The Trust began the project in 2008 to test whether lack of nest sites is a key factor in the falcon’s decline – 36 per cent between 2008 and 2009, according to the BTO’s Breeding Bird Survey, following a 20 per cent decline between 1995 and 2008.
Over three years, volunteers were asked to erect 240 kestrel nestboxes near sections of eight major roads in different parts of the UK. It has not been possible to complete the task on three roads but there are enough boxes to judge the viability of the project.
This year’s monitoring showed that kestrels had bred in 23 boxes and 69 young were ringed, compared with 14 boxes, 56 ringed in 2011 and 9 boxes, 34 ringed in 2010.
The project, supported by conservationist Dr Luc Hoffmann, is coordinated nationally by Major Nigel Lewis.
“It will be several years before the project has proved the value of nestboxes,” he said. “The take up in Wiltshire and Somerset is especially encouraging.”
This year kestrels used 10 of the 30 boxes he put up along the A303 in Wiltshire. He ringed 40 young from them. Two other boxes were used by tawny owls. Five of the 34 boxes put up close to the A38 and A370 south of Bristol were used by kestrels (20 ringed), and one by little owls.
Of 60 boxes put up along the A40/A465, A38, B4058, A46 and A420 by members of the Trust’s South Gloucestershire Group, three were used by kestrels but in one the eggs were predated. The other two produced five healthy chicks, which have been ringed.
In Norfolk near the A148 between Cromer and King’s Lynn, kestrels using three boxes produced eight young (four of which were ringed).
There was a nil return again for the six boxes on roads across Fylingdales Moor in Yorkshire and for various reasons it was not possible to check boxes near the A24 in West Sussex.
Of the 10 boxes near the A75 in Dumfries and Galloway, one brood of two chicks and another of four eggs were both abandoned. It is thought rain and low temperatures took their toll.
Click here to report a sighting on one of the target roads.
For more about the Kestrels Highways project click here