POLICE called to a church after reports of metal thieves on the
roof discovered a vehicle loaded not with lead, but with four
The birds were taken into "protective custody" by the RSPCA, and
the officers set about locating their nest somewhere high on St
Mary's, Bushbury, in Wolverhampton.
A specialist wildlife officer with West Midlands Police, PC
Chris Watson, said: "We needed to find the nest quickly, as the
longer they were away, the more chance there was of their mother
abandoning the nest."
But they had to wait until first light after the incident, in
the early hours of 19 June, before the birds' perch was located 50
feet up the bell-tower. "It had been accessed with a makeshift
extended ladder, made up of two ladders strapped together with
electrical wiring," PC Watson said. "Those involved were not only
poaching birds illegally, but also putting themselves in very real
Later that day, firemen from the nearby station at Fallings Park
returned the chicks to their home.
PC Watson has since made several return visits to watch the
birds' progress, and five weeks after the attempted theft saw their
first flights. He said: "It was great to see the mum and dad
regularly returning to care for and feed their chicks . . . and
even more of a thrill to see them eventually fly the nest."
The Team Rector, the Revd Philip Dobson, said: "I slept through
it all. It wasn't until the next morning when I saw the police that
I found out what had happened. They had nabbed one man, and they
reckon that an accomplice ran away.
"The kestrels have nested in a window niche on the north face of
the bell-tower for several years now, but . . . they are difficult
to see from the ground."
A 39-year-old man from Whitmore Reans, in Wolverhampton, was
later charged under the Wildlife and Countryside Act with
possessing protected wild birds. He is due to appear before
Wolverhampton magistrates on 10 September.