These birds have returned to Sheffield for the first time in three years

A species of bird which had been in decline are returning to the city, thanks to the hard work of wildlife lovers.

By Rochelle Barrand
Thursday, 18 July, 2019, 06:00
The sand martinbirds have been coming back to Sheffield after their winter migration.

The sand martin birds have been coming back to Sheffield after their winter migration after the hard work of various organisations to entice them back.

Usually, sand martins breed in borrows excavated in sandy riverbanks but in 2009 Sheffield Bird Study Group had noticed that sand martins were using the old Victorian walls on the River Don to nest in instead.

Flood defence work on the canalised banks of the River Don in 2016/17 meant that the walls could no longer be used as nesting sites and the birds left the area.

The Sheffield Bird Study Group hoped that if they could provide the right kind of habitat, the birds would come back to Sheffield the summer after spending winter in Africa.

With that as their aim, Sheffield City Council’s Ecology Unit got the permission of The Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust and Gripple UK to install two large artificial sand martin nesting banks made by Green Future Building.

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They were installed in 2018 by Sheffield City Council’s Ecology Unit and Capital Services at the Kelham Island Museum and at the Gripple factory site on Carbrook Street at Attercliffe.

The sand martins’ returned in March, with dozens of pairs of birds busily excavating the nest bank holes and preparing to nest. So far, there have been 21 confirmed breeding pairs in the new nest banks.

Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council said: “We love this story.

“Nature will always find a way, particularly with the kind of helping hand that’s been offered to this species by the individuals who’ve worked so hard and so effectively together. We look forward to hearing more about the progress our wildlife is making around our rivers.”

Jim Clarke of Sheffield City Council’s Ecology Unit said it had been a ‘pleasing project'.