Vattenfall’s Ray Wind Farm Emerges as Vital Breeding Ground for Endangered Merlin Population

Vattenfall’s Ray Wind Farm Emerges as Vital Breeding Ground for Endangered Merlin Population

(IN BRIEF) Vattenfall’s Ray Wind Farm in Northumberland, England, has become a crucial breeding ground for the endangered merlin, Britain’s smallest bird of prey. With the merlin population in the UK dwindling to only around 1,000 pairs, the wind farm has successfully facilitated the fledging of 23 merlin chicks since its launch in 2017. Vattenfall’s commitment to environmental protection includes habitat restoration, biodiversity enhancement, and measures to minimize disturbance to nesting merlins. In 2023, these efforts led to five new merlin chicks safely leaving their nests. This conservation success highlights the positive impact of responsible renewable energy projects on local ecosystems and endangered species.

(PRESS RELEASE) STOCKHOLM, 11-Sep-2023 — /EuropaWire/ — Vattenfall, a Swedish government-owned multinational power company, announces that merlin, Britain’s smallest bird of prey, faces a precarious future in the UK, with its population estimated at just 1,000 pairs, leading to its inclusion on the UK Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern in 2015. Amidst this concerning decline, one beacon of hope shines brightly at Vattenfall’s Ray Wind Farm in Northumberland, North-Eastern England.

Since its inauguration in 2017, Ray Wind Farm, comprising 16 wind turbines, has become a crucial breeding ground for merlins, contributing significantly to their conservation efforts. A total of 23 merlin chicks have successfully fledged from this location, establishing it as one of the region’s prime habitats for these endangered birds. These remarkable achievements were confirmed by Paul Galloway, representing the Northumbria Ringing Group, a dedicated volunteer organization monitoring bird populations in the area.

“Merlins have attempted to breed on Ray wind farm every year since 2017, and with fledged young birds recorded in all but one of those years it is one of our most successful sites. We are particularly grateful to Vattenfall, along with other like-minded landowners, for their collaboration and ongoing support with monitoring efforts,” Paul Galloway says.

Vattenfall, the owner and operator of Ray Wind Farm, has been proactive in protecting the environment throughout the construction and operation phases of the wind farm. Key initiatives include:

  1. Habitat Management Plan: Vattenfall undertook essential habitat restoration efforts, including re-wetting the surrounding area to restore sensitive habitats like blanket bog.
  2. Biodiversity Enhancement: Restoration efforts also aimed at encouraging the regrowth of heather, which has a positive impact on overall biodiversity, including supporting the population of insects, a critical food source for various birds of conservation concern in the local region.
  3. Nesting Merlin Protection: Stringent measures are implemented each year to minimize disturbance to nesting merlins, ensuring their safety and wellbeing. In 2023, these efforts resulted in five new merlin chicks successfully leaving their nests, marking a significant conservation achievement.

The success story of Ray Wind Farm stands as a testament to the positive impact responsible renewable energy projects can have on local ecosystems and endangered species. Vattenfall remains committed to its role as a steward of the environment and continues to work towards safeguarding the merlin population while contributing to a sustainable future.

“It’s really great to see another five merlin chicks fledged at Ray this year,“ says Robin Cox, Environmental Specialist at Vattenfall. “It is hoped that our ongoing collaboration with the Northumbria Ringing Group will continue to see this trend of successful breeding attempts by merlin as well as other upland species such as curlew and golden plover.”

Find out more about Ray Wind Farm here

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SOURCE: Vattenfall AB


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