Winged Obstacle: Tawny Owl Nest Stalls Dawlish Coast Construction

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 12, 2024 23:30 PMNews
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Small brown owl peeks out of its hollow
Small brown owl peeks out of its hollow. Source: pixabay

Recent progress on a cliff stabilization project in Dawlish encountered a temporary halt after workers discovered a tawny owl nesting in a crevice along the sheer cliff face.

The surprising find occurred when a railway worker, rappelling down the cliff, nearly stepped into the owl's nest. The owl had made her home amidst ongoing efforts by BAM Nuttall crews to enhance the structural stability of a 1km section between Dawlish and Holcombe.

Upon locating the owl and her two eggs, work paused immediately to ensure the safety of the wildlife. Following the hatching of both eggs, Network Rail Senior Portfolio Manager David Brown emphasized the company's commitment to wildlife protection:

"We take our responsibility to wildlife very seriously and carry out checks before we start work on site. Tawny owls usually prefer trees, so it was a surprise to find the nest here, well-hidden in a hole and so close to the railway. These birds require careful consideration under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, so we've established a 'no-go' zone around the nest to shield them from drilling noise. We'll monitor the movements of the owls and fledglings to determine when it's safe to resume our work."

With the successful hatching of the eggs and the safety of the owl family assured, work on the £37 million government-funded project has resumed, with completion targeted by the end of 2024.

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