The hole story

How to turn gravel pits into havens for birds

source: Adrian Thomas
Bird watching April 2002
starts p6, 6 pages long

There are some 1,000 gravel pits in production in the UK, and some provide attractive locations for birds, while others are empty. A number of features can help turn pits into attractive habitats. Wavy shorelines with shallow water at the edge help attract birds, and islands can provide nesting sites. Wildfowl like cover, so topsoil on the islands helps to provide this. Plovers and terns like bare ground for nesting, and gravel placed on plastic sheeting helps to attract them. Trees can also be planted to provide shelter-belts. Gravel pits also need care over the long term to continue to attract all types of birds, and this involves cutting reeds, controlling willows, and managing fish stocks.

Gravel pits are increasingly important as bird habitats, and some birds, like Smew, have developed strong links with pits. They have helped sustain numbers of Great Crested Grebes, Tufted Ducks, Pochards, Yellow Wagtails and Lapwings, and many other species. There is great potential for this habitat, as is shown by developments at the Cotswold Water Park, where there are over 110 pits.