Wildlife and habitat conservation projects
There are many facets to our efforts to protect bird populations along our overhead power lines. The following examples illustrate our contribution to safeguarding the survival of rare bird species.
Breeding sites for the peregrine falcon
Electricity pylons are ideal breeding grounds for birds of prey such as hobbies and peregrine falcons as they offer the animals a very good view of their surroundings. In 2017 Amprion equipped among other things seven pylons located east of the town of Siegen with new nesting boxes for peregrine falcons. This species was already considered almost extinct in Germany, but its population has since recovered thanks in part to the strict monitoring of breeding pairs.
After consulting with ornithologists, the fitters were given precise instructions on what to look out for when installing the boxes, so that as many breeding pairs as possible accept them. The nesting aids are so positioned that chicks leaving the nest can use the steel struts as a “fitness centre” where they can train their muscles before they make their first attempts to fly.
Making conductor cables more visible
If there is a possibility of protected animal and plant species being affected by a planned power line construction project, Amprion must carry out a species protection assessment as part of the approval procedure. That is what the law stipulates. This was also the case when constructing a new EHV overhead line from Wesel to Doetinchem in the Netherlands. Along the German section of the line, experts assessed the collision risk. As this construction project a replacement measure along an existing route, the experts found no significant changes in the status quo. Nevertheless, in order to minimise the collision risk to the maximum extent possible, in 2017 Amprion equipped the earth wire with special markers over the entire length of the .
They help many bird species detect the obstacles in the air better and can reduce the number of conductor collisions by up to 90 percent. Amprion checks upon the condition of these markers during regular check-ups by helicopter.
The storks of the Rhine floodplains
About 15 years ago, the first pair of storks were discovered on an Amprion pylon in the Rhine floodplains between Bingen and Ingelheim. As the nesting place was not safe, we modified the top of the pylon and installed a new nest. Since then, this happy couple returns to this site every year.
In the meantime, two more nests have been added in this nature reserve on the Rhine. Every summer, when the stork families have hatched their offspring, Amprion employees assist experts from the local NABU chapter (German branch of BirdLife) ring the young birds. Small, individually numbered tags are attached to one of the animals’ legs. They identify each bird and can be read with the aid of field glasses. They enable ornithologists to track the birds, determine which migratory routes they take, where they spend the winter and where and when they breed. This ringing takes about a morning to do. Together, these three nests saw seven baby storks hatch in 2018.