Trust aims to bring back rare birds to Staffordshire

A bittern The trust hopes to turn the quarry into a nature reserve with a large reed bed, to encourage bitterns to breed

A wildlife trust is aiming to bring back rare bitterns to Staffordshire by spending £25,000 on buying a quarry.

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust wants to buy 130-acre (5.2 sq km) Tucklesholme Quarry, near Barton-under-Needwood, and turn it into a nature reserve.

A bit special

A bittern
  • Bitterns are rare water birds. They are quite secretive but the males have a distinctive booming call
  • According to the RSPB, bitterns disappeared from Britain in 1886
  • The birds began to reappear in 1910 and their numbers picked up, before declining again. In 1997, there were just 11 males
  • Grahame Madge, RSPB spokesperson, said more was now known about the birds' habitats and efforts were being made to encourage stable inland breeding populations

So far the trust, which has been fundraising since early November, has raised £18,000 for the project.

The trust believes bitterns, which were once extinct in Britain, have not bred in the county for more than a century.

'Finest nature reserve'

The trust's communications officer, Liz Peck, said: "We want bitterns to breed in Staffordshire but, at the moment, they don't have a suitable habitat.

"They like really big reed beds, so want to create one of the biggest reed beds in the county at the quarry."

Guy Corbett-Marshall, chief executive, added: "Tucklesholme has all the right ingredients to become one of our finest nature reserves."

The trust hopes to work with the quarry's owners, Aggregate Industries, to create a habitat suitable for bitterns.

Oliver Jones, a spokesperson for Aggregate, said the site - currently a sand and gravel quarry - will continue to operate as a working quarry following the sale.

"We will sell the land to the wildlife trust, then lease it back and extract the remaining minerals," he said. "In the long-term, it will become an environmental site."

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