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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

congresbury_3
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

2008/9
14 boxes erected on A38

2009
No boxes used

2009/10
10 more boxes erected on A38

2010
First breeding success – 4 young at Langford

2010/11
10 boxes erected on A370

2011
Kestrels in 5 boxes – 14 young ringed

2012
5 boxes used – 20 young ringed

2013
3 boxes used – 11 young ringed

2014
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: baz.gray@btinternet.com

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

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