Following the success of the pied flycatcher nest box project, INCC looked at other threatened species that could potentially be supported in the valley. One such species that could be benefitted by the efforts of community volunteers was the kestrel (Falco tinnunculus).
The kestrel is a small and familiar bird of prey that was once common throughout much of Wales. The UK kestrel population has declined significantly in recent decades. This has been caused by a number of factors including habitat loss, persecution and competition for nest sites.
Kestrels are one of the most identifiable birds of prey in Wales. They can occasionally be seen hovering over grassland habitats hunting for their small mammal prey. Surprisingly, no confirmed records of breeding kestrel have been made from the Amman Valley in recent years. This is despite a number of suitable grassland and heathland habitats for foraging.
INCC have been able to make a total of 20 kestrel nest boxes for the Amman Valley. This has been achieved through working in partnership with local landowners and community volunteers and supported by the National Lottery Awards for All programme.
Nine of the nest boxes have already been installed in the landscape and a further 11are due to be installed in early 2021. The boxes have been installed by expert volunteers from the Gower Ringing Society, who will also help monitor them in future. Boxes are fixed to trees overlooking suitable foraging grasslands in safe and quiet locations in the valley.
Kestrels will nest in a variety of places, including disused crow’s nests and ledges on cliffs and buildings and in hollow trees. As they do not make their own nest as such, kestrels will happily occupy suitably located nest boxes. They may use the same nest box for many years.
The nest boxes, which are made locally with the help of volunteers, will increase the available number of nesting sites for the kestrel with the aim of increasing the bird’s breeding success and overall population size. There are no records of kestrels nesting in the Amman Valley, so the boxes could make a real difference.