Sand martins move into Fife Coastal Path
Friday, September 2, 2011
Sand martins have taken up residence in the Fife Coastal Path for the second year in a row just north of Kingsbarns, where exposed vertical sand in the Path has provided a perfect nesting site.
Previously, these small, sociable birds which winter in sub-Saharan Africa and hold an Amber status in the UK, nested along the coast closer to Fife Ness. Their European population has suffered in past from a sharp decline, primarily due to drought conditions in their winter home area.
Fife Coast and Countryside Trust – the region’s leading environmental charity responsible for managing and conserving Fife’s countryside – has welcomed the sand martins’ return and asked people using the Fife Coastal Path to understand why a diversion is necessary.
The presence of the sand martins at the exposed sand bank means repair work to that section of Fife Coastal Path has been delayed as the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects nests that are in use or being built.
Deidre Munro, local Countryside Ranger for the area, said: “Striking a balance between access to the path and upholding our conservation role, Fife Coast and Countryside Trust is encouraging people using the Path to take a detour along the beach where they can view the birds’ nesting tunnels and avoid the narrowed pathway.
“Although the sand martins limit what repairs we can carry out on the Path and supporting slope, they are a real pleasure to watch and bring added interest and variety to a beautiful stretch of coastline. “
“When the birds leave for their winter grounds, we will be able to reassess the site without disturbing them with the aim of safeguard the Path in such a way that will avoid any damage to the banking supporting the nesting site.”
Amanda McFarlane, Chief Executive of Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, commented: “The Path’s collapse has caused a detour for walkers, but an ideal opportunity to begin a new nesting colony for the sand martins. Several pairs of the birds have been nesting in the bank, which shows just how quickly they will discover and utilise suitable sites.”