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Bird of prey homes in on Northumberland mines

Peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon finds plentiful food supplies at Brenkley Lane and Shotton surface mines

WORKERS at two Northumberland surface mines have been getting a close-up view of a new visitor to their sites. A peregrine falcon has been recently been spotted circling and hunting around Banks Mining’s Brenkley Lane and Shotton surface mines, near Cramlington.

Plant operator Thomas Brotherton used his smartphone during a break to capture the falcon with its freshly caught prey in the Brenkley Lane mine void, just metres from his 100-tonne dumptruck (see photo).

Peregrine falcons are a protected species under The Wildlife & Countryside Act, which means that people, businesses and organizations have a legal duty to not intentionally disturb them.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at Banks Group, said: ‘The falcon has been spotted regularly around the Brenkley Lane and Shotton sites, and not only do we often see it circling the surrounding overburden mounds, where food is in plentiful supply, but it also uses the working voids to its advantage when hunting pigeons.

‘The falcon lands in the mines quite often, and seems quite undisturbed by our operations there, as the photo of it staring straight at our driver would clearly suggest.

‘Our surface mining sites are, perhaps unexpectedly, home to a wide variety of wildlife, with everything from bats, squirrels and many different breeds of birds through to roe deer, hares and even otters being regularly seen about them.

‘The landscaped soil and overburden mounds are particularly important in this respect, as they are designed and proactively managed to provide habitats for a range of different smaller animals which, in turn, provide a food supply for other predators.

‘In addition to this, the progressive site restoration work we carry out has a strong focus on creating new habitats for different types of animals, and our expert landscape management team works with a range of outside bodies to ensure we create the right kinds of conditions for these species to thrive.’

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