Sand martins in the locality of our Teifi Marshes nature reserve can now benefit from further nesting opportunities as a new artificial nesting structure has recently been installed.
The structure, supplied and installed (with the help of volunteers) by Green Future Buildings provides nesting for 96 pairs of Sand martins although other species such as Kingfishers may also take advantage of the opportunity.
Sand martins are common summer visitors, arriving in March and leaving in October. They nest in colonies, digging burrows in steep, sandy cliffs, usually around water, so are commonly found on wetland sites.
The tunnels they bore can be up to a metre in length. At a chamber at the end of the burrow, four or five eggs are laid on collected straw and feathers.
Sand martins are sociable birds and will nest together in summer and gather to roost in large numbers in autumn; eventually they migrate to Africa to spend the winter.
The aim of the structure is to help provide nesting opportunities for Sand martins as the banks on the nearby river Teifi are prone to erosion with high water flows and the activities of nearby sand quarries are changing the availability of natural nesting sites on an annual basis. The structure hopes to mitigate in some way for these issues.
The design of the structure also allows ringers access to nests for ringing and monitoring opportunities and so the Teifi Ringing Group are patiently waiting for the first arrival(s). At present there are hundreds of Sand martins using the reserve and so we hope that the structure will soon attract some to nest on site and add to the rich diversity of wildlife found.
The installation of the structure was only possible through the generous donation of funds from private donors, the Pembrokeshire Bird Group, Environment Wales, the Pembrokeshire Biodiversity Partnership and BIFFA Award. The Wildlife Trust is grateful for all their support.
Nathan Walton, Wildlife Trust Officer for Pembrokeshire