400 tonne giant sandcastle built to bring sand martins back to nature reserve

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400 tonne giant sandcastle built to bring sand martins back to nature reserve.

SURREY Wildlife Trust has unveiled a giant 20-metre wide sandcastle for sand martins, tiny 12 centimetre brown and white birds, to welcome them back from Africa to nest at a Surrey nature reserve.

The huge 400 tonne giant sandcastle will provide hundreds of new sand martin homes at the reserve for the first time in 25 years.

As one of the first spring migrants, sand martins, the smallest of Britain’s swallow and martin family, visit the reserve annually on their return flight from sub Saharan Africa.

The nesting bank, in essence, one enormous sandcastle, has been specially designed with a 20-metre curved vertical face so sand martins can peep out of nest holes to find mates.

Sand martins begin to arrive at Spynes Mere, near Merstham, mid-March and feed there until September.

James Herd, project manager at Surrey Wildife Trust, said: “Sand martin numbers have plummeted twice in the last 50 years as a result of droughts in their wintering grounds in Africa.

“In the UK, the natural nesting inland habitat along river banks has decreased as rivers pass through more urbanised areas and under roads, and quarrying has ceased.

“So creating this nest bank is important to protect them against the boom and bust nature of their nesting sites and give more security for the population to expand.

“They are sociable birds that roost together in large numbers and so the scale of the sand bank is as important as its sustainability. Here at Spynes Mere the sand martins can return to nest safely in the sand bank year after year.”

The project has been funded by a local growth investment fund, Coast to Capital, as part of the Naturally Richer project, and supported by Chessington World of Adventures Resort’s Chessington Conservation Fund.


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Tara Rippin

Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
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