WORK to create ideal nesting spots for ground nesting birds has proven a success after an at-risk species successfully bred at Herefordshire's Bodenham Lake.

With over 50 acres of open water formed by gravel extraction, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust have been working to improve the lake for wildlife since 2018, by creating shallow waters and planting over one hectare of reedbed, a fantastic habitat for a wealth of wildlife.

The lake is interspersed with five islands and, in 2019, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust improved several islands for ground nesting birds and wading birds as part of the European Regional Development funded ‘Delivering the Nutrient Management Plan’ project.

Less than a year after island works were completed two oystercatcher chicks have hatched. These are the first chicks of this species to have ever hatched at Bodenham Lake. Across the UK oystercatcher are declining in number, and they are listed on the Amber list of Birds of Conservation Concern.

The Trust’s Lugg Living Landscape Project Officer, Sophie Cowling, said: “ We are delighted that oystercatcher have been able to successfully breed at Bodenham Lake. This is a great conservation success story, at a time when many species are declining. Thank you to everyone that donated to the Re-wilding Bodenham Lake appeal for making this project possible”.

The new islands were created from an old roadway used to access the different gravel pits, known locally as “the spit”. The islands were created with ground nesting birds such as oystercatcher and little ringed plover in mind, as nesting on the island provides an extra level of protection from land-based predators. They have reduced tree cover allowing the parent birds to spot predators approaching the nest, while the muddy margins are also perfect for oystercatcher to feed on worms and insects.

Oystercatcher often return to the same site to breed, and the trust hope that the new islands will allow them to continue to increase in number at Bodenham Lake.

In autumn 2020 the Trust will complete works on other islands at Bodenham Lake including islands over reedbed, building on our work on the lake shore and the creation of a bank for sandmartin and kingfisher to nest in.

Bodenham Lake Nature Reserve is currently open only to local visitors arriving on foot: the car park at this site remains closed.