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.
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.