Raptors welcome at Blair Drummond

21 August 2015

Installing Kestrel Boxes on Blair Drummond Estate

As part of conservation efforts working with natives species, Blair Drummond Safari Park is providing some much needed homes for European Kestrels (falco tinnunculus) on its estate. Also known as the Common kestrel, its numbers have taken a massive decline in the local region over the past few years (67% between 1966 and 2009), making the once familiar sight of a hovering kestrel a rarity. Working with Dave Warren, Blair Drummond's education officer, two volunteers from Sparsholt College, Mia Darbyshire and Tash Dawson travelled up to help with the project.

The students have been responsible for surveying the small mammal population around the nest box sites by using catch alive traps kindly loaned from Dr. Stewart White of Glasgow University, they have designed and built four nest boxes using sustainably sourced wood, kindly supplied and cut by B+Q Stirling and selected suitable locations for the boxes, ensuring sufficient distance from other raptor nests and in close proximity to arable southerly facing slopes, where the small mammal populations were highest.

To Install the nest boxes, the safari park turned to expert arborist Rikki Soroczymski of Professional Tree Climbing (professionaltreeclimbing.co.uk) who kindly gave up his time to safely install the boxes. He said : "I was delighted to be able to help, working outdoors and typically around open meadows, I have noticed a decline of kestrels. Its fullfilling to apply my trade in order to help a variety of conservation initiatives".

Dave Warren added:

"I look forward to monitoring these nest boxes and will be delighted if kestrels move in and nest in the spring-time. Everyone has given up a lot of time to aid this project and it's come togther really nicely, let's hope it's a positive for the kestrels. If any do breed, we'll ask our friend at the Forestry Commission, Dave Anderson, to ring them and add them to the national database. I think to recognise the generosity of B+Q Stirling, the first kestrel chicks to fledge from the boxes will be called Derek and Brian, after the store manager and member of staff that cut the box sections!