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In the same month as a national report warned against a decline in the number of kestrels in the UK, two healthy chicks are taking their first tentative steps in the world after their parents set up a nest in an unusual location in the New Forest.
Demolition of the former Marchwood waste incinerator was put on hold last month after a kestrel's nest containing eggs was discovered inside the semi-demolished building. Since then, the nest has been monitored and other activities on site have been undertaken sensitively to ensure the safety of the nest and its occupants. After hatching earlier this month, the chicks appear to be doing well and are already starting to venture away from the nest for brief periods of time.
As reported recently by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), kestrels are a declining species, with overall numbers dwindling by around 20% since the 1990s. They are also a protected species, so it was important to temporarily halt work on the incinerator to ensure the safe arrival of the chicks. It is expected that they will be continuing to return to the nest to roost every night for another few weeks until they are fully fledged and ready to leave the nest permanently.
Councillor Mel Kendal, Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Environment, said:
"It is great news that the kestrel chicks have now hatched, and appear to be healthy and all doing well. The kestrel is one of the UK's most popular and most impressive birds of prey, and I'm delighted that we have two new inhabitants of our beautiful New Forest.
We anticipate demolition of the old incinerator to restart later in August once we have ensured that the kestrels have fully fledged and are no longer occupying the building; then the remainder of the site will be cleared."