Category Archives: Regional Trust News

Kestrel Highways Project Update 2014

A Better Season for Somerset/North Somerset Kestrels

A mild (If wet!) winter and a warm spring and summer resulted in a record number of kestrels using our Somerset boxes on the A370 and A38


Three young were ringed at Congresbury

The number of kestrel pairs using our boxes took a dip in 2013 due to the cold weather.

We were determined to make a good start to the 2014 season by having as many of our boxes as possible ready, by removing any squirrel dreys or jackdaw sticks early on.

The mild winter and warm spring resulted in early indications that more of our boxes would be used this year.

In our early monitoring we found pairs mating near some of the boxes, including ones that had not been used before.

One such box was at Ashton Court, which produced 5 young.

Other boxes newly used this year were at Biddisham (4 young) and Congresbury (3).

Unfortunately the early start made by the kestrels combined with some gaps in our monitoring meant that some young were too big to attempt to ring.

We also had a surprise at the end of the season when Melanie Patch from our team noticed that a box that we had abandoned two years ago for several reasons had apparently been successfully used. We are planning to reinstate this site for next year with a safer, more accessible box.

In summary, 7 of 32 boxes were used by kestrels and 2 more by stock doves. At least 23 young were hatched, of which 17 were ringed.

We will need to start work soon to replace some boxes ahead of next season.

Thanks again to all of the team and to our licensed ringer Colin Morris and his able assistant Chris Perry and to all our landowners

Kestrel Highways in North Somerset – Timeline

14 boxes erected on A38

No boxes used

10 more boxes erected on A38

First breeding success – 4 young at Langford

10 boxes erected on A370

Kestrels in 5 boxes – 14 young ringed

5 boxes used – 20 young ringed

3 boxes used – 11 young ringed

Kestrels in 7 boxes – 23+ young hatched, 17 ringed

What is the Kestrel Highways Project?

Colin Morris rings one of the Langford kestrels

Colin Morris rings one of the Langford kestrels 

Kestrel Highways is a project of the Hawk and Owl Trust and was funded by the renowned conservationist Dr. Luc Hoffmann

The Trust has pioneered work demonstrating that kestrel numbers can be increased by erecting kestrel nest boxes in suitable habitat.

Nest boxes were erected at approximately one mile intervals along the routes of major trunk roads in a bid to boost the numbers of this falcon and raise awareness of its decline.

The A38 between Bristol and Bridgwater and the A370 between Bristol and Congresbury were the the roads chosen in North Somerset/Somerset.

If you see a kestrel near these roads you can report it : Click Here.

Kestrel Facts

  • The kestrel, Falco tinnunculus, is a small falcon (Length 31-37 cm) that was once a common sight hovering over road and motorway verges
  • It is mainly brown in colour but adult males have a grey head and tail
  • Its main prey species is the short-tailed field vole, common in rough grassland, which it catches from a hover or by stooping from a perch. It will also take a variety of other prey, including small birds, lizards and worms
  • Falcons don’t make nests. Kestrels use hollows in trees and buildings, ledges on cliffs and old nests of species such as crows. They readily take to nest boxes
  • They usually lay four or five eggs between April and June. The kestrel was once Britain’s most common bird of prey but has declined (no one really knows why) and is now only third commonest behind buzzard and sparrowhawk. It is “Amber Listed” as a species of conservation concern

Local Coordinator: Barry Gray T: 01179 712943 M: 07826 026745 E:

Field Team: Steve and Caroline Armstrong, Graham Guest, Keith Lapham, Mike and Sally Lee, Christine Milsom, Colin Morris, Dave Newton, Melanie Patch, Chris Perry, Carrie Riches, Pat Rogers

Latest News From North Somerset and Bristol Group

NEWSLETTER – July 2014 Yet again we were lucky with the weather for our walk through the reserves belonging to Backwell Environment Trust. The reserves were looking lovely and the sharp eyed amongst the group spotted a corncockle flower, a first for the reserve, and a Spotted Flycatcher and its nest in the top ofContinue Reading

Vet Examination Confirms Norwich Peregrine Death a Collision Accident

Grove Veterinary Practise in Fakenham, having examined the body of YT, the fourth and final peregrine chick to fledge from the nest box at Norwich Cathedral and who was found dead in the Cathedral grounds. Grove have reported that there is a crack in one of the neck bones of the bird. This suggests, asContinue Reading

Norwich Peregrines Hatch First Chick of 2014 at Hawk and Owl Trust Urban Peregrine Watch Point

The first egg hatched on Saturday night (26th April). It was first seen at 19:37 still wet and in its half-shell so the actual separation of the shell would not have been much before that. The female was incubating at the time but the male came in and almost pushed her off the nest, continuingContinue Reading

Donation of New Visitors’ Seat for Shapwick Moor from North Somerset Group

The North Somerset Group of the Hawk and Owl Trust has financed a new seat for visitors to Shapwick Moor The seat will be in memory of former Chairman Barbara Handley who was actively involved with the group until her sad death last year, and it will be positioned to look out over some ofContinue Reading

Shapwick Moor Opens Its Second Hide

Less than a month from completing work on the Barbara Handley Hide, Shapwick Moor has completed a second hide for use by visitors. This attractive new hide was designed and built by local craftsman Edwin Rider to resemble the Shepherd’s huts that used to be used in the area. It overlooks one of the manyContinue Reading

Avalon Marshes Family Group Plant 600 Trees on Shapwick Moor

Members of the Avalon Marshes Youth group gathered recently on a cold and windy morning for 3 hours of intensive hedge planting. After some initial instructions, the children, aged between 4 and 10 yrs old, quickly set about the task of planting over 600 trees along the trackside. They quickly made short work of theContinue Reading

Shapwick Moor Receives Saplings From Garden Centre

THE Hawk and Owl Trust’s 55 hectare nature reserve, near Glastonbury, has this spring (2014) been presented with 50 young trees thanks to a Somerset Garden Centre. Monkton Elm Garden & Pet Centre donated the saplings to the Trust for use on it’s Shapwick Moor Nature Reserve near Glastonbury. Philip Holms, Somerset Trustee for theContinue Reading

Big ‘thank you’ to Hawk and Owl Trust North Somerset Group for Equipment Donation

The  lovely members of the North Somerset H&OT Group have donated six pairs of top quality loppers to enhance the tool stocks at Shapwick Moor. These tools have been needed urgently to help cut back willows along the ditch sides, one of the most important habitats on the reserve. Pictured here are Carrie Riches (ChairContinue Reading

Next workday at Shapwick Moor

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be shown, by Simon Beard, our Education Officer, just how much progress been made on the reserve in the last few weeks. Recent works include two scrapes and a pond in front of our main hide and the hole for a small pond near the hide. We now haveContinue Reading