First publishedon www.AggBusiness.com
No stone unturned to help preserve wildlife at Aggregate Industries' Chard Junction quarry. (Photo credit: David Helliar)
As part of an avid commitment to helping safeguard the cherished wildlife on its areas of operation, this summer saw quarry operator, Aggregate Industries, took swift action to put work on hold after little ringed plovers were seen to be nesting on a site earmarked for works.
The little ringed plover is a rare breeding bird which migrates to the UK for the spring and summer where around 1,200 pairs will nest, normally on stony ground close to shallow water.
Of those, at least one pair regularly nests at Aggregate Industries’ Chard Junction sand and gravel quarry in county Somerset, south-west England, which are accommodated for with suitable nest sites, all well as away from the operational area.
This year, however, the birds opted to nest close to the face of the ground that was due to be worked over the summer.
Cue an intervention from the Aggregate Industries’ team, with the quarry manager changing the direction of extraction and works in order to ensure the nest remained safe and undisturbed, while a local bird watcher also monitored the nest from a nearby footpath.
To add to challenge, after only one youngster survived from the first brood, the quarry’s treasured temporary residents chose to have a second brood meaning their stay lasted longer than expected before eventually returning to Africa for winter.
The ensuing disruption proved worthwhile for the dedicated quarry team when two youngsters fledged the nest successfully in late summer and quarry operations were able to return to normal.
Simon Wiltshire, Biodiversity and Restoration Advisor at Aggregate Industries, said: “Little ringed plovers are a beautiful and rare species of bird which have a high level of protection. That’s why we have specifically developed a number of suitable nests for them on our site.
“This year, however, it seems that our annual summer residents decided to up ranks and reside much closer to works which, of course, meant we immediately adapted our extraction plan to make sure we kept out of their way. After their arduous journey from Africa, after all, the least we can do is make sure they are kept sound and safe while trying to breed.
“Following an unfortunate first brood, it was wonderful to see the new youngsters fledge the nest this summer and we look forward to welcoming their arrival again next year.”