A giant “sandcastle” has been constructed to encourage sand martins to nest at a nature reserve for the first time in 25 years, Surrey Wildlife Trust has said. The 400-tonne sand installation at Spynes Mere, near Merstham, Surrey, was built by professional sand sculptors who used a “giant bucket mould” made from wooden boards, as well as the help of diggers and dumper trucks. Sand martins visit the nature reserve when they migrate from sub-Saharan Africa each year, arriving from mid-March to feed until September, but they have not nested there for 25 years. The 20-metre–long construction will allow hundreds of the tiny 12cm birds to nest and raise their young at the reserve. Build it and they will come: a digger moves sand into the wooden mould. Photograph: Surrey Wildlife Trust/PA Conservationists warn there has been a decrease in natural inland nest sites for sand martins, which dig burrows 50-90cm into the sand with their claws and make a small chamber at the end to lay their eggs in. It is hoped the scale of the scheme at the nature reserve will enable the sociable birds to roost together, and that the curved vertical face of the sandbank […]

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