Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Sunday, 22 February 2009

Birds' love nest given makeover

sand martin
The sand martin is expected to flock to the area in April

Volunteers and countryside rangers in Berkshire have been out in force giving a makeover to an artificial wall which encourages amorous birds to nest.

The wall of 100 nesting tunnels is used from April by breeding sand martins which flock to Lavell's Lake in Dinton Pastures, Wokingham.

Helpers spent Sunday cleaning the tunnels ahead of the birds' arrival.

The wall was created two years ago and is home to about 70 pairs of breeding sand martins in the warmer months.

The birds are on the RSPB's at risk register, as they like to burrow in banks, quarries and cliffs near to water.

As there are limited places for the birds to nest in the Loddon Valley area, the walls were created to encourage breeding.

Fraser Cottingham from the Friends of Lavell's, said: "It's important to clean out the artificial nesting wall so that the sand martins are encouraged to nest here again and raise their offspring in the borough.

"Sand martins are on the at risk list of birds but thanks to the artificial wall we have noticed an increase in the pairs nesting at Dinton Pastures - which bucks the national decline."

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