White Cart Water Flood Prevention Scheme

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Contract 1 - environment

Protecting the wildlife of the White Cart Water - Issue 3

Over the past 10 months as the construction project has progressed, there have been many developments made to enhance and protect the natural environment.

Habitat creation

The wet grassland at Kirkland which is under construction, with its pond and scrapes, has already proved popular with a wide variety of different birds including swallows, sand martins, various geese species, plover, oystercatcher and lapwings.

Some birds nest on the ground and a pair of lapwings and a pair of oystercatchers have nested on the stubble and short vegetation in the wetland. Already the eggs have successfully hatched out.


Figure 1 – Lapwing


Figure 2 – Oystercatcher


Figure 3 – Lapwing nest

Sand martins

Sand martins are summer visitors to Scotland. They spend the winter in Africa and migrate north to breed in the summer. They nest in long tunnels which they dig into vertical sandy cliff faces that are often found in a river bank. Their numbers are dwindling due to many different factors including the loss of suitable nesting habitat in the UK.


Figure 4 – A sand martin at its nest tunnel

Sand martins, like swallows, return to the same place to nest and we have a colony of sand martins that have returned to Kirkland Bridge each year. To improve their chances of successful breeding, we have built an artificial sand martin wall with nest tunnels provided for them to nest in.


Figure 5 – The artificial sand martin wall

The wall is constructed from pre-cast concrete, back-filled with local sandy soil and pierced by around 50 plastic tubes to provide the nest tunnels. The front face has been rendered and painted to give the appearance of a sandy cliff.

Despite its artificial look, the wall has been so successful that within a few days of its completion, the sand martins moved in. There were at least a dozen pairs nesting in the wall.


Figure 6 – Sand martins at the artificial nest wall

News about the otters

The culverts built at each flood storage area have been monitored over the past 10 months and evidence has been found (spraints and paw prints) of otter inside ALL THREE SITES. The mammal ledges running along the inside of the culverts are so far providing a successful and safe route for otters to commute along the river and through the culverts.


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