Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Monday, 11 May 2009 16:53 UK

Poles support kestrel love nests

Nesting box on top of electricity pole
The boxes on poles replicate kestrels' natural nest sites

Old electricity poles are being turned into love nests for birds of prey at a nature reserve in County Durham.

The poles, which used to hold overhead power lines, will support nesting boxes for kestrels at Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve in Houghton-le-Spring.

Staff from CE Electric have been setting them up at Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve in Houghton-le-Spring.

The birds have recently been declining in number because intensive farming is destroying their natural habitats.

Natural nesting sites are holes in old trees or on the ledges of cliffs or buildings.

Jim Cokill, director of Durham Wildlife Trust, which manages the reserve, said: "Finding a suitable nesting site can be a struggle as there are fewer old trees or buildings that are suitable.

"The poles offer a fantastic alternative as they provide excellent visibility and flight lines for the bird, and a convenient perch to hunt from."

Pete Carr, a team manager at CE Electric UK's Penshaw call centre and one of the members' of staff involved in the project, said: "I can't wait for the birds to start nesting in them.

"Most of us who have been helping out live nearby, so we'll definitely be coming back."

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