White Horse Contractors create multiple new habitats for the RSPB in Wiltshire

With a storied history of environmental works, working closely with the RSPB, the conservation charity again selected White Horse Contractors to construct multiple habitats for Stone-curlews and butterflies at the Winterbourne Downs Nature Reserve in Wiltshire.


The RSPB required two Stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus) scrapes, the creation of a chalk butterfly bank and an additional eight chalk scrapes. These habitat scrapes should provide low maintenance nesting sites for stone-curlew, lapwing and other chalk specialist invertebrates.

Having successfully seen growth in population of Stone-curlews within the reserve over the past two years, the charity wishes to extend their successes with the proposition of new man-made scrapes that will further encourage this rare species to Winterbourne Downs in the future.

With a wide range of species across all seasons, including Lapwing’s, Yellowhammer’s and Skylark’s, the continuation of Stone-curlew integration is a key mission of the RSPB. Meaning they required a contractor with the technical ability and experience to construct these new habitats within a fixed timeframe.

In addition to the new scrapes, the RSPB required the creation of a clean chalk butterfly bank that will home chalk butterflies through spring and summer. The S-shape bank sides will need to face all possible directions to ensure the insect’s safety in warm and windy weather.


White Horse Contractors were selected to construct the new formation of habitats across the vast Winterbourne Down reserve. The selection was thanks to White Horse’s previous work in collaboration with the RSPB; specifically the Otmoor RSPB lagoon and wetland project.

Another key factor leading to the selection was our ability to work on this project in the autumn of this year, meaning minimal disturbance to ground-nesting birds (at RSPB’s request).

After initial site meetings in Wiltshire, Contracts Manager Tom Iles mobilised his earthworks team with plans to remove existing flinty loam topsoil down to the underlying clean chalk at approximately 500mm depth.

Experience in action

Due to the challenge of constructing multiple scrapes and habitats within a functioning reserve, our expert dozer operator Keith Johnson paid particular care and attention to existing wildlife inhabiting close by. As an experienced operator of over 50 years, Keith understands the importance of efficiency in action, and the evidence is clear to see in projects that he is a part of.

Banking on trust

Following the excavation of existing soil on the land, White Horse recycled these materials evenly to an adjacent fallow plot, as well as burying soil into the base of the new S-shape banks. This ensured that no materials would be wasted.

As part of this multi-habitat project, White Horse were entrusted to construct S-shape banks for warm-loving butterflies and other insects.
The 200m long and 4m high S-shape bank ensures insects will have the benefit of warmth from south-facing slopes, as well as the option to retreat to the northside of the bank should the weather become too warm or windy.

An adaptable ecological habitat that the insects and invertebrates will benefit from is key to the construction. Relying on the technical skill of our team to construct these works, our dozer operators relished shaping the unusual scrapes and shapes at Winterbourne Downs.


White Horse Contractors constructed multiple new habitats at Winterbourne Downs to support the population of birds and butterflies for the RSPB.

As an environmental contractor with experience in constructing new habitats, we are proud to work with such esteemed clients as the RSPB and look forward to seeing updates on RSPB’s YouTube Channel . We would like to thank Winterbourne Downs Site Manager, Patrick Cashman for his informative discussion throughout the project process.
RSPB's newly constructed S-Scrape by White Horse Contractors

For more information call 01865 736272 or email whc@whitehorsecontractors.co.uk