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Substation is unlikely home for robin family

An electricity substation in Ninfield has become an unlikely home for a robin family.

From News & press - 25 May 2021 12:00 AM

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Barry May, an asset inspector at UK Power Networks, was carrying out network inspections when he discovered a robin sitting on four eggs in a storage cabinet.

He said: “It made me jump as it flew out towards me, but as soon as I realised it was a robin I left the building and shut the door, returning later to check it was back on the nest.

“I put a note on the door for my colleagues to explain that a robin is nesting in the wall cabinet, advising people not to disturb the nest. I’ve spoken to a local colleague because the fledglings might have a job getting out of the small gap they are getting through in the window. He can leave the door open for them when they are ready to fly the nest.”

Barry added: “I have always been interested in birds because from a youngster I used to keep 200 racing pigeons. I just like birds, but robins are one of my garden favourites. I’m always doing bits and pieces in my garden to encourage wildlife.”

The RSPB says robins are famous for nesting in all kinds of unlikely locations, including sheds, kettles, boots, hanging baskets, coat pockets, under car bonnets, in farm machinery and even on boats in daily use. Their nests are more commonly located on or near the ground in hollows, nooks and crannies, climbing plants, hedgebanks, tree roots and piles of logs.

Heather Patrick, environment adviser at UK Power Networks, said: “We’re trying to provide more space for nature through our Green Action Plan and have set a target of improving the biodiversity potential of 100 sites by 20-30%. Enhancements include planting hedges and fruit trees, sowing wildflowers, restoring a pond and changing how we cut the grass. We’ve also installed boxes for a range of birds, including robins. We’ve seen signs of those boxes (and a substation roof) being used so far, but this pair have clearly found their own perfect spot.” 

Once the clutch is complete, incubation is 13 days before the chicks hatch naked, totally dependent on their parents for food and warmth. The chicks fledge at 14 days.