THE felling of hundreds of trees along the railway line between Christchurch and Bournemouth has been reported to British Transport Police.

Contractors employed at the direction of Network Rail carried out the action on Sunday, April 8, with bus replacement services in force to allow the work to take place.

Advice from the RSPB suggests tree pruning and felling should be avoided at this time of year to avoid potential harming birds.

Through the Wildlife and Countryside Act, birds and nests are protected from intentional harm.

Resident Ray Walton, who has been actively campaigning against the removal of trees causing harm to wildlife on canals and rivers by various agencies, says the problem is wide-spread.

He came across the work on the railway line after hearing the sound of chainsaws from his home.

Mr Walton went to inspect what was going on from a bridge over the line and he says he could not believe the severity of the work being carried out.

"Network Rail are destroying the homes of nature," he said.

"They shouldn't be doing this work at this time of year. Removing trees like this is contributing to the decline in bird populations.

"It is happening right across the board and needs to be stopped."

Mr Walton filed a complaint with Network Rail and also contacted British Transport Police.

Tony Whitehead, of the RSPB in the south west, said: "My heart always sinks when I see images of rail-side vegetation being cut at this time of year when birds are nesting.

"Sure, if it's emergency work for urgent safety reasons, then, of course, it needs to be done, but I worry that much of this work is simply routine, non-urgent work that is being simply being carried out with little regard to the presence of birds and other animals.

"If such routine work is being done without reference to the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which offers basic protection to nesting birds, it may well be in breach of the law. We will ourselves be passing details of this incident to the British Transport Police"