Habitat restoration project is a great success for Nene Valley wildlife

Lapwing by Gillian Day

Increasing numbers of over-wintering birds have been sighted over recent weeks at Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows nature reserve, owned and managed by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire (BCN), thanks to habitat improvements being made at the site.

With the help of funding from the SITA Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund, the Wildlife Trust BCN has been busy making important improvements for wildlife and visitors at the reserve which is a nature conservation site of international significance. Over the summer an island was created in one of the lakes to make an ideal habitat for ground-nesting birds like common tern and lapwing. Shallow scrapes and pools have also been developed at the lake edge which support a wide variety of invertebrates and will provide important feeding areas for wading birds such as redshank and snipe.

Heather Procter, Nene Valley Project Manager at the Wildlife Trust BCN, said “The newly created islands and scrapes have already proven to be very popular with many of the over-wintering bird species that we are trying to attract to the site. It’s so rewarding to see that our hard work is now starting to pay off.

“Hundreds of lapwing and wigeon can often be seen at any one time, as well as greylag and Canada geese, as they graze for food in the wet muddy lake edges. In recent weeks we have also seen large numbers of starlings forming some impressive murmuration displays over the reserve before dusk which is really very exciting.”

The best places to see the new island, which is in ‘Dragonfly Lake’, are from the disused railway line and from the footpath around ‘Wader Flats’. A map of the nature reserve can be found on the Wildlife Trust’s website, www.wildlifebcn.org/reserves/irthlingborough-lakes-and-meadows.

If you are interested in getting involved with on-going management of the nature reserve there are plenty of ways that you can help. Please contact the Wildlife Trust BCN on 01604 405285, or visit www.wildlifebcn.org for more information.

Image of a lapwing by Gillian Day.

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