Site news - creating a nest site for sand martins Our rangers are out come rain or shine, but thankfully it was a bright and beautiful day last month when the team were out in the Wetlands Nature Reserve at Millennium Country Park filling the sand martin wall in preparation for nesting season. The wall is filled annually at the very start of spring and then cleared after the summer, which is when we'll know for certain how many holes have been used for nesting. The 88 holes that span the large wall are in 2 different sizes, and get packed with sand delivered via a custom-built filling device (made by our ranger Tony!) These then get partially capped with a sand-heavy cement mix that sets, to replicate the cliff faces where the birds breed and nest. The sand martins usually arrive at the Wetlands in March/April, hunting insects and preparing their nest by excavating the pipes and tunnelling into the loose sandy material at the other end of the pipe, displacing sand as they go ready to become a nest for their young. The chicks will begin hatching and fledging from around early July. The area around the nest bank is not available for members of the public to access at any time because of wildlife and safety concerns - as you walk past you may have noticed the gates and signs indicating these restrictions - but it's particularly important during these months that the bank isn't disturbed. But fear not - you can still get a great view of the wall and any activity from the Wetlands trail, or across the Pillinge from the bird hides (once restrictions lift and these reopen): The sand martins will stay for the whole summer and around September they migrate back to the Sahara, Africa where they spend the winter.