Sculthorpe Moor Sand Martin Bank – An Update for Sponsors

The staff and volunteers at Sculthorpe Moor would like to thank you once again for your generous support of our Sand Martin Bank Appeal. We wanted to give you an update on how things have progressed with the construction.
As part of some remodelling work done on The Scrape in January, the footprint of the bank was dug out in preparation for the construction to begin. There followed a protracted logistical exercise to move five tons of sand and aggregate, 600 concrete blocks, 50 clay pipes and a cement mixer to a location which could only be accessed with a quadbike and small trailer. Eventually work on the build began in late January with the laying of a concrete pad and the race began to be finished in time for the sand martins’ sprint arrival from their African wintering grounds.
Thanks to a sterling effort from the volunteers, by the end of March the external construction was complete and we were able to incorporate the building into the landscape by surrounding it with earth. The exterior was rendered with a mix of sand, cement and lime to give a more natural appearance. The interior was insulated to prevent large changes in temperature and each of the 57 nesting chambers was filled with sand. Inspection hatches were fitted to the back of each one to enable access for ringing chicks. With a frantic effort, work was completed by mid-April – just as the first sand martins began to appear around the reserve during a spell of warmer weather and favourable winds.
We didn’t really know if the birds would be interested in such a new structure but then the weather turned colder with northerly and easterly winds – and the birds disappeared.
Then, to our great satisfaction, on Sunday 5 May, Andy Thompson, one of our volunteer photographers, took some pictures of birds entering and leaving the nest holes. They don’t seem to have stayed but clearly it has attracted their attention and we have our fingers firmly crossed that we will have some residents soon.

A massive thank you to everyone who has supported the project either financially or with their labours and we look forward to keeping you up to date with future developments.
Alwyn Jackson

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