GNS Field Meeting to the Cotswold Water Park (9 July 2006, contributed by David Anderson)

A group met at Keynes Country Park for a walk around a number of gravel pits at various stages of development. Working, recently worked out, almost restored and flooded pits were visited to see the lifecycle of gravel extraction. The trip included visits to areas usually inaccessible to the general public.

A highlight was the vigorous discussion on the processes of restoration, contradictory habitat demands for different species and the impact of a pit’s final use on habitat regeneration. The effect of a gravel pit’s lifecycle on the movement of Sand Martin colonies was discussed as the group watched c.250 pairs on a temporary sand cliff face in a working quarry.

The best technique for creating the profile of a restored gravel pit’s floor was described along with the effect the profile has on sedimentation and aquatic plant development. For most present this raised a new and interesting point that we could see was clearly important for plant diversity.

Observations made during the trip included:

Immature Hobby that perched on a bank about 100m metres from the group and gave all a chance to examine the raptor in detail and at leisure. Common Terns including a nest with chicks; Little Egret; Sand Martin colony; Stock Dove; Grey Herons; Roosts of Black Headed Gulls in the gravel quarry floor; Lapwings; and singing Skylark.

This was a very interesting and informative trip that included usually inaccessible reaches of the water park.

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