Habitat First Group have recently been getting things ready to welcome Sand martins back from Africa.

The Sand martin (Riparia riparia) is a tiny earth-brown and white bird that arrives from Africa as early as mid-March. Following severe droughts in Africa in the late ’60s and again in the early ’80s, the Sand martin population declined to just 1/10th of its original size. Despite their populations recovering, it is important that we take steps to boost the numbers of these amazing little birds.

Sand martins are common visitors to sand quarries where they use their tiny beaks and feet to excavate tunnels and nesting chambers deep in the sand faces. In its former days as Warmwell Quarry, Silverlakewas host to breeding Sand martins every year. When the quarrying stopped and Habitat First Group took over the old quarry they retained the last sand face that the Sand martins had used and integrated it into the development. Year on year the Sand martins have come back but, with over 240 nesting pairs each year, the sand face has begun to erode. To make sure there is room for the birds to nest after their long flight from Africa we have now installed artificial nesting banks for them. These structures are created with pipes leading to nesting chambers and each of these is packed full of sand for the birds to excavate. In time we hope these will be used and that we will be able to ring any young birds to help with monitoring studies.

Over at Lower Mill Estate, we have also put up these artificial nesting sites to attract the Sand martins that arrive in the Cotswold Water Park every year. With quarrying reducing in the Cotswold Water Park there are fewer nesting sites for the Sand martins and we want to make sure there will always be places for these fabulous little birds to nest.

Lower Mill Estate is also home to what is thought to be the UK’s biggest population of House martins thanks to conservation efforts that have been going on for over 15 years. Swifts are also getting a helping hand with swift nesting towers at both Silverlake and Lower Mill Estate and a swift brick being installed in every new house we build at any of our sites.

We will keep you updated on how all of our African visitors are doing.

Silverlake is home to a huge range of wonderful insects thanks to the diversity of habitats it hosts. Of these insects, moths are often overlooked as many only fly at night and even the day-flying moths aren’t always easy to spot.

There are actually over 2,500 species of moth in the UK and they are a major part of our biodiversity, playing vital roles in the ecosystem. Moths are a food source for numerous other species such as bats and birds and are also vital pollinators. In the last 60 years moth populations in southern Britain have declined by a staggering 40%!

At Silverlake we value our moths and their populations are regularly monitored as part of our ongoing wildlife auditing. In 2019, surveys by renowned moth experts Phil Sterling and Mark Parsons recorded 297 species at Silverlake. Of those species recorded, there was 1 Red Data Book species called the Dingy Mocha, 14 Nationally Scarce species and 65 species considered to be Local on a national scale.

Phil Sterling said: “A good range of species were recorded in just 7 visits, with a number of highlights. It is likely there are many more species present at Silverlake, and yet more that will colonise as the number of plant species increases, the existing habitats mature on site, and new niches are formed.”

By looking after our habitats at Silverlake carefully, we hope to record even greater numbers of these wonderfully diverse moths in the next few years.

Please get in touch with our sales team to arrange a digital tour of the Estate and our designs

Here at Silverlake, following Government advice and in order to protect you, our staff and residents, we’re not currently accepting visitors to our beautiful Estate, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out; our sales team are able to offer a full digital tour of the Estate with videos, images and an audio or video chat.

With the volatility of the stock market and the current economic uncertainty, we’re reminded that property is a safe, dependable long-term investment.

Even more so, a home on one of our country Estates is an investment in family-time and making memories, which seems more important than ever right now.

One thing we’re sure of is that once this period of uncertainty is over, owning a holiday home in the UK is a very smart decision.

Please call +44 (0)1305 853 490 or email live@silverlakedorset.com

In 2019, Bryan Edwards of Dorset Environmental Records Centre (DERC) applied to Silverlake’s Conservation and Community Fund for money to survey for heathland bees and wasps across Silverlake over two years. The Conservation and Community Fund provided a grant of c. £4,000 and as a result of the first year of this work, 46 bee species and 15 wasp species have been recorded at Silverlake to date.

The reasoning behind his wish to survey was:

“Prior to the large-scale sand and gravel working in the 1960s and 70s, West Knighton Heath, Empool Heath and Outer Heath had a very rich aculeate fauna with many rare and scarce species present. Over the last 50 years habitat fragmentation and agricultural intensification has led to a general decline of bees and wasps and many other invertebrates in the landscape. Even within the remaining protected sites there have been declines due to the loss of bare ground and open habitats that are required for nesting.”

17 of the bees and 4 of the wasps recorded were new records for the area. Bryan recorded the Black & Yellow digger wasp, which was last recorded in the 1950s and the beautiful jewel wasp first recorded in Dorset in 2016. Silverlake’s heathlands (especially the trackways), banks and road verges are prime habitats for these bees and wasps.

The UK has over 250 species of bee alone, many of which are threatened by decline or extinction.

Bryan Edwards, Ecologist at DERC, said:

“The habitats developing at Silverlake are proving very attractive to a wide range of bee and wasp species. Several heathland specialists have colonised Woodlark heath where the bare compacted soil provides ideal nesting sites for species such as the black and yellow digger-wasp Cerceris arenaria. The numerous soil banks in and around the development are developing lovely wildflowers and are very important in providing a nectar resource through the spring and summer. Several scarce species were found in 2019 including colourful jewel wasp Hedychrum nobile.”

Dr Phoebe Carter, Chief Ecologist for Habitat First Group, the parent company of Silverlake said:

“In Britain we have around 270 species of bee, just under 250 of which are solitary bees. These bees can be amazingly effective pollinators and as the name suggests, they tend not to live in colonies like bumblebees and honey bees. We should also value many of the wonderful range of wasps we have in the UK as they are also effective and important pollinators.

Silverlake is hugely committed to providing and protecting the habitats that these species need and as such, now provides bee bricks in every newly built property for solitary bees.”

Silverlake’s Conservation and Community Fund has also recently provided a grant for a moth survey, which recorded 297 species of moth at Silverlake including one Red Data Book species, Dingy Mocha, which is also a Section 41 NERC Act species and a 14 Nationally Scarce species.

Photo credit: Bryan Edwards

Christmas Eve: 9.30am

If you want to feel less guilty about over-indulgence this Christmas, why not take part in our Christmas Eve cycling adventure at Silverlake?

The 11 mile route is a perfect mix of on and off road tracks and will open your eyes to the beauty and tranquillity of the local area.

The ride will take you through woodland to the picturesque village of Moreton, before you return to the estate via winding country lanes for a hot drink and a mince pie.

The route will be ridden at a leisurely pace and is open to anyone aged 11+ that is confident to cycle 11 miles at a reasonable speed.

Space is limited, so booking is essential. Please contact the Activity Hub as soon as possible to reserve your place on this popular event.

Cost: £25 per person
E: ActivityHub@HabitatEscapes.com
T: 07971 252394

On Sunday 25th August, Silverlake residents were treated to an afternoon of gourmet picnics, Pimm’s, live music and children’s entertainment on the roof terrace of the Hurricane Spa.

Over 140 people came together to enjoy one of the hottest Bank Holidays on record and we were delighted to meet so many of our residents’ guests; adult, child and canine.

The Bank Holiday also saw the grand opening of our new Yurt and Wood-fired pizza oven, providing even more unique, communal spaces for people to come together with friends and family.

The Silverlake Summer Party is just one of a series of events hosted by Habitat First Group, which in 2019 has included a Dadventure Day with a Team GB Olympic Gold Medalist, A GPS Easter Egg Hunt and a Wine Tasting Evening with further events planned for Halloween and Christmas.

Interesting read about the buoyant holiday market and advantages of owning a Furnished Holiday Let

The number of people booking self-catering holidays in England jumped from 6.22 million to 7.23 million between 2015 and 2017, according to Visit England.

The recent fall in the value of the pound amid Brexit uncertainty is also expected to boost the appeal of the ‘staycation’.

Read the Full Article HERE

Sunday, August 25, 2019 from 1:00 PM to 7:30 PM

Join us for an afternoon of merriment on the roof of The Hurricane Spa at Silverlake on Sunday 25th August 2019.

Starting at 1pm, we will be serving a gourmet picnic lunch, accompanied by acoustic music and some light-hearted entertainment. Moving through the afternoon, there will be some children’s entertainment and a live band.

The pool and Hurricane Bar will be open all day and later in the afternoon, our brand new pizza oven will be in action too.

Tickets for the lunch and entertainment are complimentary but will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis so please give us a call on 01305 853 490 to reserve your spot.

Drinks will be available for purchase from the Hurricane Spa bar and pizzas will be available for purchase outside the spa later in the day.

Silverlake is one of Visit Dorset’s favourite outdoor pool hot spots this Summer

Sitting in the heart of West Dorset, Silverlake offers a stunning space that celebrates unspoilt nature, beautiful wildlife and everything the great outdoors has to offer.

Choose from one of the architecturally designed, sustainable holiday homes and enjoy the exclusive on-site Hurricane Spa, outdoor swimming pool or outdoor activities in hundreds of acres of unspoiled nature reserve.

Chill out on the poolside loungers, relax on the roof terrace or unwind in the sauna. And you’re feeling really energetic, you can burn some calories in the gym with your own personal trainer.

Read the full article HERE