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Tuesday, 7 February 2012

3 Pairs of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS nesting at Buncefield!



Today I was made aware by aiki & Toadflax on the RSPB Community forum, of an extremely interesting, if short, article on The Gazette Hemel Today website. Some of you may have heard about this before but it was news to me & I can't believe I missed this at the time...

Apparently in Spring 2010, developers at the Buncefield depot site, who were renovating the area of the oil terminal explosion in December 2005, had to change plans to accommodate the nesting of 3 pairs of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS!

The protection order meant that work on the construction related site clearance & earthworks activity could only take place outside of the breeding season & the development is expected to be finished with gravel or stone to create a suitable habitat for the Plovers to nest.

Having recently seen from afar, the open, stoney & rocky nature of the landscape, short spaced-out vegetation, & the quietness & distance from the majority of human & automotive activity at the site, it had me thinking that the site could attract Plovers at least on migration, coupled with the fact that they occasionally breed not that far away near Redbournbury, so this doesn't come as a complete surprise, but very much welcomed.

To hear that not just one, but three pairs of Little Ringed Plovers may have even attempted to breed there is fantastic, though there is no published news on whether they were successful, understandably. Luckily the site is highly guarded by a 24 hour security team, high barbed wire fences, razor wire, cannot be viewed well, if at all,  from the roads & paths, & is highly dangerous to enter anyway, so any birds there are pretty well protected.

I'd love to know if they have returned since, or whether they will return again, & hope that they were or will be successful in rearing young there. It's very good to hear that the developers have been so accommodating to the Plovers, & it sounds as if they really realise the significance of such a bird choosing to breed on their land, possible proud of it. Unfortunately this isn't heard of often in recent times, most developers doing all they can to get around the 'problem' of a breeding bird or looking for loopholes in their protection to go ahead with development as they had planned even with birds listed as Schedule 1 such as these. I feel the developers at Buncefield are setting a good example of how we can build, develop & renovate whilst living with, & taking into consideration, the nature around us. You can't really ask more from them since they're going that extra mile in not only preserving but actually creating habitat to actively attract the birds to the site. Lets just hope they return this spring.

[EDIT: Through some research of my own since composing this post I have subsequently found the official mitigation plan written by RPS Group consultants in partnership with Arcadis consultants, Graham Goodall of the Hertfordshire Biological Records Centre & Ecologist Martin Hicks. It is the proposed alternative plan for development on the site which was submitted to Dacorum Borough Council on behalf of Total UK with involvement from Kodak Ltd. UK.

The document mentions the developers actually creating more suitable nesting habitat for Little Ringed Plovers, the plan includes creating lagoons &/or two ponds maintained at 10-20cm deep to create an ideal landscape for the Plovers. It also mentions plans to encourage plant life beneficial to Little Ringed Plovers whilst providing habitat suitable for the particular insects that are important food sources for the birds. It goes as far as making sure a suitable depth of gravel & stone is used to prevent the usual overtaking by undesired plants so that an optimum breeding habitat can be naturally maintained.

The plan mentions lengthening the development process to ensure minimum disturbance to the Plovers & even takes into consideration the possibility of the birds having second broods. It also includes ways to maintain a suitable nesting landscape for the Plovers at each stage of site development, including utilising a large roof on one of the buildings to create a suitable nesting area incase their favoured area is disturbed.

It is certainly refreshing to read what measures are being taken for the good of our birds & other wildlife in this particular instance of building development, especially since the plan includes actively improving the habitat in the area to encourage the birds to breed in the future.]
The link to the article is > HERE <.
The link to the Total / Dacorum Borough Council mitigation plan is > HERE <.

The shot above is one I took of a Little Ringed Plover in habitat not that dissimilar to that of some areas around the Buncefield oil terminal, although this was in Andalucia, Spain.





1 comment:

  1. Really interesting to hear this and wonderful to read about the provisions and care for the Plovers by those involved in the development.
    (Lucy)

    ReplyDelete

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