Turning silt lagoons into useful habitats for migrating waders

Northern-Lapwing-Vanellus-vanellus_Andreas Trepte  www.photo-natur.de

Northern Lapwing © A. Trepte, http://www.photo-natur.de

Here is an update from-the-field by Dr Phil Wheeler, who is leading one of our projects in the UK:

In the past few months we have been working on the task of mapping and assessing the state of all quarries in England and Wales using the Britpits database of mines and quarries.

As migrating birds are now starting to move away from breeding sites and prepare for migration or movement to overwintering areas we are beginning surveys at quarry sites which currently support waders in order to understand how birds are using existing sites.

This database has over eleven thousand sand and gravel sites listed and PhD student Bryonie Fox has sorted the data, mapped it in a geographic information system (GIS) and located each site to assess its potential for restoration to habitat suitable for wading birds.

She is then mapping the extent of each quarry site in order to evaluate the potential total resource that these sites might provide and how sites are distributed across the landscape.


Fig 1. Priority of sand and gravel quarries in North Yorkshire for restoration to support waders. Larger, darker coloured points are highest priority. Arrows represent hypothetical landscape connections between major areas of wader habitat.

We have undertaken a preliminary spatial analysis of sites in North Yorkshire which has identified a corridor of ‘stepping stone’ sites between important areas for waders (Fig. 1), allowing us to differentiate between sites which would be high priorities for restoration to support waders and those which would be lower priorities.

Repeating this analysis for our national datasets will give us a searchable map to help quarry managers and planners across the country assess whether their sites are in areas of high priority for restoration to support wader populations.


Restored lagoons will be useful for the most common waders species, such as the Common Redshank above © A. Trepte, http://www.photo-natur.de

2 thoughts on “Turning silt lagoons into useful habitats for migrating waders

  1. Interesting spatial analysis used for the prioritization of wading bird habitats. Did you conduct any field based habitat quality assessments of the current quarry state, or solely quarry extent was utilised for prioritization ? Additionally did you utilize any spatial tools like landscape metrics (Fragstats) or Conefor Sensinode to inform your initial prioritization ?

  2. Dear Justin,
    Here is the answer to your question that the project team (Dr Philip Wheeler) provided:

    We have characterised quarries based on inspection of high resolution remote sensed imagery but have not been able to assess each one with field surveys – it’s one of the limitations of a study at this scale! The map presented here is not based on any of the landscape metrics you allude to, but we are using those (and others) in the current analysis we are working on in order to identify priority regions and sites.

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s