On Friday, Ray Matthews (Chair of the Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve) and I were invited to attend the award dinner of the BTO Challenge. This scheme is aimed at large industries like power generation and quarrying in order to encourage habitat creation, particularly for birds. It's held very other year and Bardon Aggregates usually win one of the categories "Community", "Conservation" and, of course, "Birds". Sometimes they win all three!
The birds category was won by Abberton Reservoir this year who had the highest score ever. They beat Rutland Water by one species, which Tim Appleton (Rutland Warden) is determined to beat next time. Look for him and his cheque book at cage-bird shows this year! To make up for the loss, the BTO awarded a Rutland a special award for their big extension to the nature reserve, created in advance of increased reservoir capacity. Little Paxton Quarry won the conservation award this year.
Delia Shannon, who is the Biodiversity and Community Engagement Manager for Aggregate Industries (Bardon's parent company), drove us all the way to Suffolk and back, so that Ray and I could enjoy the food, wine and walk.
The awards were held near Sizewell B Power Station and we were very well fed and watered by the power company who sponsored the awards this time. They also won one themselves, and very rightly so. At Sizewell we were treated to a walk through coastal woodland and marsh where we had good views of kingfisher, marsh harrier, grass snake, green hairstreak butterfly, Norfolk Hawker dragonfly (yes, I know we were in Suffolk) and southern marsh orchid, bog-bean, lousewort, cotton grass and quaking grass, all in the same meadow!
In the top photo, you can see Delia, Ray and I receiving the award on behalf of Paxton Pits, from Andy Clements who is Director at the BTO. Below you can see a marsh orchid with the Sizewell B Power Station behind.