• River Garnock 02

    Garnock Connections

    Connecting people and places within the Landscape


Happening Now



Boosting the birds at Gailes Marsh

Gailes Marsh Wildlife Reserve is a rare pocket of wetland and mixed woodland in the fairly open, generally dry habitats along the Irvine coast.  It supports good numbers of birds but there is the potential for more including several of conservation concern.

First, Scottish Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers installed a new sand martin bank, providing up to 48 nesting holes for these threatened birds. A check of the bank in late 2020 found that 20 of the holes had nesting material, an excellent result for the first year. Here's hoping 2021 brings even more sand martins.

Gailes Marsh has a hardworking team of horses which manage the land through grazing. While they do an excellent job, there are some sections which are better served growing out more. To that end, we have installed 600m of new fencing, making sure that certain sections of the reserve are in better condition for insects to thrive.

Similarly, we are creating piles of brambles and logs which will scrub over, providing nice, shady habitats for birds, insects and more.

Gailes Marsh is at the heart of a programme to re-introduce the Small Blue Butterfly to Ayrshire so this site is also part of Garnock’s Buzzing.


Outputs achieved so far:

5 piles of logs and brash

1 sand martin bank

600m of fencing

Did you know?

The Small Blue Butterfly is the UK’s smallest.  It only lays its eggs on one plant – the kidney vetch (Anthyllis vulgaris).   Only one egg tends to be laid per flower head as the young caterpillars can be cannibalistic.

Project Location

Get Involved

The Scottish Wildlife Trust runs a volunteer programme and organises events on its reserves, both in Ayrshire and throughout Scotland. For events and volunteering in Ayrshire, contact us using the details provided for this project. For volunteering elsewhere, contact the Trust’s Head Office on 0131 312 7765 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contact Details

Gill Smart, Scottish Wildlife Trust's Manager for Southwest Scotland

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01294 279 376

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