Injured barn owl rescued by A14 road worker

A14 worker Martin Lefty and Liz McQuilan from the Raptor Foundation sanctuary releasing the recover

A14 worker Martin Lefty and Liz McQuilan from the Raptor Foundation sanctuary releasing the recovered barn owl. - Credit: Archant

A injured barn owl has been rescued by a machine operator working on the A14 road upgrade project at Brampton.

The bird was discovered by Martin Lefty, who was using his excavator to move materials and soil.

Its leg was bruised and it was unable to fly, so Martin together with Duncan Healey, one of the environmental managers on the road scheme, decided to take the owl to the Raptor Foundation near Wyton.

Two weeks later they learned the bird had made a good recovery and were able to join the Raptor Foundation's Liz McQuilan to set the owl free near the site where they had found it.

Martin said: "Protecting and enhancing the environment is an important part of what we do while building the new A14, so when I saw the injured owl I knew I couldn't just carry on with my day's work - I had to ensure it was okay. It was great to see it make a full recovery, and to be a part of setting it free again."

Highways England, which is managing the upgrade project, said barn owls were not the only protected species the A14 team was working to safeguard, fellow creatures on the route have included kestrels, otters, swifts, great crested newts, badgers, water voles, bats and butterflies.

Carol Hardingham, environmental lead for the A14 on behalf of Highways England, said: "Building a new road changes the local environment around it, but it can also bring new opportunities to protect and enhance it. The countryside along the 21 miles of the A14 upgrade is mainly arable land, which can pose challenges to biodiversity and wildlife. The new road is making it possible to create connected corridors and new habitats for wildlife, as well as opportunities to provide new ground for some of the rare local flora to thrive.

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"With all the measures we are putting in place, we're confident that once the new A14 opens our work will leave a positive impact on the new road's local environment."

Some of the measures taken to protect and enhance the A14's local environment include tunnels beneath the new 12-mile stretch of the new road which will bypass Huntingdon to the south, with shrubs carefully planted to direct animals to ensure they have a safe way to cross the road, which carries up to 85,000 drivers every day.

A trio of new habitats for newts have been built, including ponds and log piles, which they hibernate beneath through the winter.

Main construction to upgrade the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon is progressing well and reached the half way mark in November 2018.