Wed, 04/04/2018 - 11:47

One of the first signs of spring in the UK is the return of sand martins to our shores. These diminutive birds spent the winter in West Africa before returning to the UK to breed in riverbanks and in quarries.
This year, as part of the QLA, we are installing an artificial sand martin bank at Ketton Quarry, based on a successful design developed at Rutland Water Nature Reserve. This will provide a safe breeding location for the birds while allowing quarrying activity to proceed as usual. Work began on the bank - which has a total of 252 individual nests - in February, and despite having to contend with the ‘Beast from the East’ which covered the site in deep snow a few weeks ago, the team have battled on admirably, and the build is now almost complete.
The year 4 Osprey class from Ketton Primary School came to check out progress last week, and we were impressed by their knowledge and enthusiasm. We talked to the children about the construction of the bank, and how we’ll monitor it once the birds take up residence. The bank’s design will enable us to ring any chicks as part of scientific studies on the species coordinated by British Trust for Ornithology.
Since the children’s visit the roof has been installed and the bank is almost complete. The outside needs rendering to give it a natural look and wooden hatches will be added to the rear of each nest. With luck the first sand martins will take up residence in a few weeks. Watch this space!