Rural Reading: Nature reclaims landfill sitesBy Adrian Lawson
September 16, 2011
Despite having spent many years wandering around the local countryside, there are always new places to see.
In fact, some places are being created as I write this – the old tip at Smallmead is now meadow again.
I have yet to go and have a look, but from neighbouring fields I have seen the changes, and the great flocks of gulls that once picked over our rubbish have now gone.
There are landfill sites across the Kennet valley – some have been filled for a while now and left to nature.
I had a chance to look around one last week, and while it was not exactly barren, it wasn’t full of wildlife either. It was a shame as this is a huge area and could be fascinating.
Part of the site is now a huge gravel pit, full of water and life.
The difference when we arrived at the edge was stark – the water teemed with birds on the surface, and overhead were hundreds of house martins and sand martins.
These tiny birds were getting ready to head south and were feeding on a bounty of insects to get ready for the long trek.
In among them we spied a few swifts, too, a surprise, as by now most have gone south.
These were probably birds that had spent the summer much further north – some of them breed in the far north.
Their epic journey is already thousands of miles long by the time they get here, and they have much much further to go before winter.
The landfill site, though, was comparatively barren.
This was though my first visit, and perhaps the wildlife there is more interesting than first impressions.
There is a chance to do something here that will turn this area into a haven like the gravel pit. The right sort of handling over the years and this could be a fascinating place.
I must have a chat to the people that look after it.