Home from Home for Sand Martins

Sand Martin nests in the sand © Ben Carpenter

Sand Martins like to nest near water as insects flying over the surface provide a ready source of food, they can often be seen from the viewing platform feeding over Thrupp Lake. They are summer visitors and are among the earliest spring arrivals. They can arrive as early as late March and start their return journey to Africa in August. They nest in colonies, favouring sandy cliffs, riverbanks and old quarries where they dig tunnels up to a metre long in which to build their nests.

For a number of years, Tuckwells, a sand and gravel company next to Thrupp Lake, has been accommodating the needs of sand martins by preparing a nest site out of sand which they shape into a large bank with a vertical face that the birds can tunnel into. As an added bonus the nest site overlooks a large pond to provide an easy source of food. After their long journey from Africa this must be a welcome sight indeed.

This year, the company very kindly allowed Friends of Radley Lakes members to visit the nest site and a good number took advantage of the opportunity. Ben Carpenter, a professional ornithologist was on hand to answer any questions and his knowledge was greatly appreciated.

Very many thanks are due to Tuckwells for their kindness in making it possible for us to visit and for providing access to their facilities. It's very encouraging to see an example of how business can help wild life and the environment, especially when they derive no benefit from their efforts.