Kestrels move into M25 home

Workers supplying Lafarge concrete to the M25 motorway-widening project in Essex have discovered a nest of kestrels within the building site.

Kestrels move into M25 home

The protected birds were spotted roosting near a mobile concrete production unit at the site compound by plant supervisor Brett Erwin and a nesting box was made for them. Since then, six chicks have hatched and the team are now following the new family’s progress on a webcam set up to monitor the nest.

Erwin said: “I think the kestrels were attracted to the batching plant by the warmth from the heaters that are used in the concrete production process. It looked like they were searching for somewhere to nest and I thought that maybe I could help.”

After looking up designs on the internet Erwin, in agreement with site bosses, set to work with wood and nails and the finished box was then fixed on the side of the concrete silo.

He said: “I was really excited when I saw the kestrels using the box – it provides a safe place for them to set up home and means that, when the batching plant is removed at the end of the project, we can move them to nearby countryside while disturbing them as little as possible.”

“In April I put a little camera up to film inside the box and now we have a continuous feed from the nest. It was really interesting to see the birds settling in. The female would sit on the six eggs while the male went hunting. He sits on top of the box with mice in his beak. Occasionally she will fly off for a little while to stretch her wings. Now that the eggs have actually hatched it is absolutely fantastic, and the family is doing really well. It won’t be long now before the chicks fly the nest.”

The RSPB estimate that there are around 38,000 breeding pairs of kestrels in the UK, and the bird is on their amber list of protected species.

It is expected that the kestrel family will continue using the box throughout the coming months. This winter, the box will be removed from the side of the concrete batcher and moved to a nearby tree in the hope that the kestrels will have continued success in future years.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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