Thursday, June 13, 2024

UK: Dawlish Cliff Works Paused Due to Unexpected Wildlife

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Ongoing works on a Dawlish cliff were recently brought to a brief pause due to the discovery of a tawny owl nesting in a hole on the side of the sheer cliff face.

The owl, which was discovered by an abseiling railway worker as he attempted to, unknowingly, place a foot into the bird’s nest, had chosen the current worksite as her home as BAM Nuttall crews had been working to improve the structural integrity of a 1km stretch between Dawlish and Holcombe.

The operative was descending the sheer cliff face above the tracks and put his foot into a toehold – only to find his boot bitten by the protective mother-to-be

© Network Rail

Upon discovery of the owl and her two eggs, works were paused immediately to ensure the safety of the group, with both eggs having subsequently hatched.

Network Rail Senior Portfolio Manager David Brown said:

“We take our responsibility to wildlife very seriously and carry out checks before we start work on site.

“Tawny owls usually favour trees so it was something of a surprise for us to find the nest here, well hidden in a hole and so close to the railway.

“These birds need careful consideration under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, so we’ve set up a ‘no go’ zone around the nest to protect them from the noise of drilling. We’ll be tracking the movements of the owls and fledglings so that we know when it’s safe to resume our work.”

As both eggs have hatched and all three owls are safe and sound, work on the Government-funded £37m project has since resumed, with completion aimed for the end of 2024.

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