Sand Martin Cliff
Sand Martin Cliff Large bodies of freshwater frequently attract high numbers of insects. These in turn attract the attention of feeding bats and birds. The sand martin is one species that has always been attracted to Alton during the summer in large numbers. Unfortunately up until the mid 1990’s they have never bred successfully. To help them in this task a section of waterside cliff was exposed using a JCB digger.
Almost immediately a breeding colony of around 60 birds was established and many young were successfully reared. Unfortunately this early success has not been consistently repeated although most years some young are still reared. It appears that only a specific band of strata within the cliff is used and natural erosion has tended to reduce this each year. Artificial Nesting Chambers
Artificial Cliff To overcome this an artificial cliff was designed and constructed in front of the Coralline Hide. Over 100 artificial nesting chambers were constructed using plastic pipe fittings. A metal skirt was added to restrict access by predators such as mink. We are hoping it won’t be long before the first sand martin takes up residence!