Beetles, bugs and other wildlife received a welcome boost after a donation from the Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund enabled conservationists to replace a vital water pump at a Cambridgeshire nature reserve.
Invertebrates – particularly beetles – that thrive in the wetlands of Dogsthorpe Star Pit, near Peterborough, were regularly threatened by rising flood water.
A grant of £15,423 to the Wildlife Trusts for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire from the Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund has meant that the new pump and works around the former brick works site are now completed. The new pump enables staff to cope more efficiently with changing water levels.
“Salts from the exposed Jurassic clays, while good for rare aquatic invertebrates, are hard on pumping machinery,” said Matt Hamilton, senior reserves manager for the Wildlife Trusts for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire.
“Over the past year the pit floor had flooded and put at risk much of the key habitat and species that make the site special. Our pump had failed and needed to be replaced but the pandemic prevented the work being done.
“To restore lost habitat and give more control in future we have enhanced the pump chamber inlets and feeder channel and installed a weed screen to help prevent blockages.
Shallow pools – so important for aquatic insects – have also been created, adding to an existing mosaic of pools, critical for water beetles (63 species of water beetle have been recorded over the years) and other invertebrates which seek refuge in isolated pools away from fish.
“The pump is now more efficient, reducing long-term electricity costs,” added Matt. “These works have ensured that, despite dire flooding, the site continues to be an excellent habitat for a range of species, including its nationally important water beetles, which our surveys have confirmed are still present.”
During a 2021 summer survey, 33 water beetle and 11 bug species were recorded in the space of one day, including four nationally scarce species, along with plenty of other species uncommon in the region and various species associated with fenland clay pools.
Craig Leigh, quarry manager at Tarmac’s nearby Maxey Quarry, said: “The work done by the Wildlife Trusts is valuable in protecting the many different species that inhabit the pit.
“We are always happy to help put something back into conservation projects such as this via the Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund.
Dogsthorpe Star Pit, once excavated for clay used in brick making, named after the Star Brick Company. In 1993 the pit was notified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and in 1994 ownership passed to the Wildlife Trust, which has managed the site ever since.
To learn more about the work of Wildlife Trusts for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire, visit here.
Pond life – Top – Dogsthorpe Star Pit starts to refill with water after the pump (above left) was replaced thanks to Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund. Bugs and beetles such as the Rhantus Frontalis (above right) will be allowed to flourish thanks to the work.