Kestrels bedding in at Beckton

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A family of Kestrels have made a ventilation pipe their home on a Thames Water site in east London.

Staff at Beckton sewage treatment works adopted the birds of prey after they were first spotted nesting in a pipe connected to the company’s sludge powered generator.

The generator produces enough renewable energy to power a town the size of Wantage in Oxfordshire every year, through treating sewage sludge - a by-product of the wastewater treatment process.

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Keen kestrel watcher and site technician Steve Spurling, said: “It’s not typical of what you’d expect to see. The pipe is operational, so we had to act quickly to change our operational processes and temporarily take the pipe out of service.”

Beckton Creekside manager Danny Regan, added: “Kestrel numbers declined in the 1970s, but as we have witnessed on this Thames Water site, they’re adapting to man-made environments.

“What’s great is that we now have a breeding pair. I’ve seen the female taking in small lizards and mice for her four chicks. I’ve known this site since I was a boy and it’s always been a favourite of these beautiful birds.”

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Ahead of the next breeding season the team are set to install a specially designed ‘Kestrel box’ as an alternative, with a grill being fitted to the outside of the pipe to allow it to be put back into operation.

The RSPB estimates that there are 46,000 breeding pairs of Kestrel in the UK.

The Creekside Nature Reserve at Beckton formed part of the planning consent process for Thames Water’s Lee Tunnel project – bringing together operational capability and environmental enhancement. 

As well as Kestrels, the site is home to all kinds of wildlife. Peregrine falcons, sparrowhawks, mistle thrushes and Canadian geese have all been spotted, as well as reports of barn owls making this site their home.

Beckton Creekside is open to the public two days a week and more information can be found here.