Conservation project increases kestrel numbers in North Lanarkshire

Countryside ranger Jackie Gilliland is pictured with one of the kestrel chicks
Countryside ranger Jackie Gilliland is pictured with one of the kestrel chicks

Fifty kestrel chicks have been ringed this year as part of a project to conserve and monitor this protected species in North Lanarkshire.

North Lanarkshire Council, the SSPCA and Central Scotland Raptor Study Group are working in partnership to monitor the birds living in the area and identify their movements and breeding patterns.

Glasgow Shettleston MSP John Mason has taken on the role of species champion for kestrels at the Scottish Parliament and visited Drumpellier Country Park to learn more about the project.

He met with countryside ranger Jackie Gilliland and SSPCA investigations officer James Leonard both of whom are members of the study group.

During his visit, Mr Mason visited two nesting sites and helped to ring 10 kestrel chicks.

The coloured rings placed on the birds’ legs allow them to be identified and their movements monitored to find out more about their habits and why numbers of the species have dropped across the UK.

One of the North Lanarkshire nesting sites is on the roof of Dunbeth Tower in Coatbridge, where the council has built ledges for the kestrels. Over the past seven years, 30 chicks have been reared at this location.

Countryside rangers also identify suitable sites across the area, working with landowners to obtain permission to erect nest boxes. As a result, the kestrel population in North Lanarkshire is increasing.

Mr Mason thanked the officers for the informative visit, saying: “It was a fabulous opportunity for me to learn about kestrels and your work. I have some great photos and will certainly long remember this visit.”

If members of the public spot any kestrels in the area, the countryside rangers would be interested to hear where and when they are sighted, to help build a picture of the birds’ movements.

Information can be sent by emailing GillilandJ@northlan.gov.uk.