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Birds of Prey Dig Quarries

Posted on 19. January, 2011.

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A new study into birds on quarry sites has shown that they are havens birds for prey.

The UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) carried out a survey on 70 quarries in the UK after this year’s breeding season, to find exactly which birds live and breed there. The quarries are owned by CEMEX, one of the largest building materials companies in the UK.

Buzzards and kestrels flew into joint top spot, with both species found on more than a quarter of sites surveyed (27%). Peregrine falcons were found on over a fifth of sites (21%) and 23 peregrine chicks fledged. Almost 10% of sites surveyed had barn owls, and six breeding pairs produced five chicks. Seven per cent of sites had sparrowhawks and tawny owls, with both breeding on two sites.

This is the first time the RSPB has carried out an investigation into birds found on quarries, and experts were also excited by reports of elusive birds of prey like goshawks and owl species such as short-eared owls. The details of exact sites surveyed are not being released for fear of persecution and egg collecting.

The RSPB has a national partnership with CEMEX UK, aimed at creating 1,000 hectares of new space for wildlife by 2020 and increasing awareness amongst employees. Restoration of former mineral sites has provided some of the UK’s most remarkable places for wildlife. Quarries are good for wildlife because of their sheer scale and the number of sites. They provide plenty of space for a range of habitats. Many resemble birds’ natural habitats, such as the cliff faces that peregrine falcons traditionally nested on.

Sam Tarrant, CEMEX Biodiversity Adviser, says: “Quarries might usually be associated with unglamorous materials like sand, gravel and stone but they are far from the bare wastelands many people imagine. They are actually home to some of the UK’s most exciting wildlife.”

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