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Ardeer Quarry Local Nature Reserve

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The eastern half of Ardeer Quarry was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 2011 for its wildlife and community value.  It contains a diverse mix of habitats in a relatively small area: semi-mature broadleaved woodland, small stands of conifers, wet woodland, a sizeable pond, marshland, grassland and overgrown Brownfield land are all crammed into this urban green space.  The result of this habitat diversity is a respectable variety of plant and animal species.  The stands of conifers support a typical breeding assemblage of coniferous woodland birds, such as Coal Tit, Goldcrest, and Wood Pigeon.  The broadleaved woodland supports a good variety of woodland birds such as Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch, and Long-tailed Tit.  The small pond on the reserve hosts ten species of dragonfly and damselfly, a bountiful supply of frogs, toads, and newts, and breeding Little Grebe, Mallard, and Moorhen.  The grassland and Brownfield areas support a good assemblage of common butterflies, including Common Blue, Ringlet and Small Heath.

Three parts of the reserve in particular are of significant importance to wildlife. The Woodhead Plantation at the north east of the reserve contains a mix of woodland types, including Birch woodland, wet woodland and long-established open woodland with a plentiful supply of mature shrubs. This diversity of habitat types supports a wide variety of unusual moths including Beautiful Carpet, Scallop Shell, The Seraphim and Garden Dart. At the other end of the reserve, towards its southern edge, is an area of swamp and Willow carr, a remnant of a much larger wetland that once existed in the town. As well as supporting attractive water plants such as Purple Loosestrife and Yellow Flag Iris, this part of the reserve also plays host to a variety of unusual wetland moths, including Oblique Carpet, Bulrush Wainscot and Beautiful China-mark. The caterpillars of the latter species are aquatic and feed underwater - a very unusual behaviour among moths.

The third particularly interesting area of the reserve lies at it's southern edge. A former railway siding, this Brownfield area is now rich in wildflowers, including orhcids. There is also a lot of bare ground here, promoting warmth and, in turn, thermophilic insects. It is therefore no surprise that the rarest bee recorded at Ardeer Quarry was found at this part of the reserve: a male Ardena coitana was caught here in 2010. Also, a few species of butterfly typical of botanically rich dry grassland are found here and nowhere else on the reserve: Common Blue, Small Heath and the occasional Grayling.

The proximity to the coast (1km; the dune habitats of the Ardeer Sandhills used to stop just short of Ardeer Quarry) influences the nature of the species present at the site: Sea Radish, Sand Sedge, and Grayling are all species characteristic of Britain’s thin coastal strip and have all been found on the reserve.  Furthermore, the proximity to the sea causes the ground temperature to be slightly warmer than inland and so the waterbodies at Ardeer Quarry often remain free from ice when inland ponds and ditches are frozen.  Consequently, frosty conditions often bring in bird species such as Water Rail, Teal, and Common and Jack Snipe, which have fled frozen waters further inland.


The reserve lies next to the former ICI grounds – now a wilderness of woodland, grassland, dune and wetland habitats.  There is consequently a significant exchange of wildlife between these two sites, which boosts the quantity and diversity of wildlife at Ardeer Quarry.  Birds such as Woodpigeon, Siskin, Kestrel and Buzzard can frequently be seen flying between the old ICI Black Powder Wood and Ardeer Quarry, and if it wasn’t for the large heronry at the neighbouring industrial site, Grey Heron would be a rarity at Ardeer Quarry rather than a regular visitor.  Mammals too travel freely between these two sites.  Roe Deer and Grey Squirrel are perhaps the two most obvious examples, but otter and probably bat species also move regularly between these sites too.

The wildlife at Ardeer Quarry LNR is closely monitored, more so than the wildlife at any other site in Stevenston. In particular, the birds, bees, butterflies, dragonflies and moths are subject to ongoing recording. Over 250 species of moth have been recorded at Ardeer Quarry, including several nationally scarce species. Below are links to annotated lists of the birds and butterflies found at Ardeer Quarry. A similar moth list will be posted in the near future.

Ardeer Quarry LNR Annotated Bird List

Ardeer Quarry LNR Annotated Butterfly List

A Common Toad poses beside a Common Frog in one of the site's ditches.

A couple of Common Blue Damselflies copulating beside the pond.

In recent years Ringlets have colonised the reserve.

A couple of female Roe Deer breed on the reserve every year.

Gavin's Wee Pond was created by F.R.I.E.N.D.S. in the mid 90s and supports 10 species of dragonfly and damselfly.