A very short walk from the centre of Newport is Shide Chalk Pit, the entrance is via a flight of steps from Burnt House Lane, just at the top of the hill from St George’s Way. We love it because it is so peaceful, but it hasn’t always been so.
The site has probably been in use since the 16th century or earlier. From 1895 chalk from the quarry was used at the Medina Cement works until its closure in 1944 and a railway line went from the Pit through what is now our Pan Mills Meadows reserve and north to Dodnor Cement Works (also a Gift to Nature site).
Now designated as a Local Nature Reserve it is a haven for wildlife. Vegetation has been colonising the floor and sides of the pit and as a result, habitats vary from bare rock to emergent woodland, and all stages in between. Rabbits are our lawnmowers!
Goldcrest and long-tailed tit feed here during the winter. Goldcrests are named after the crest of bright feathers in the middle of their head – a bit punky. This is completely yellow on females, but has an orange centre on males. The rest of the plumage is mainly green-brown. They are really tiny - the uk’s smallest species of bird. Adults typically weigh just 5g, which is the same as a 20p coin. Goldcrests feed on insects and invertebrates. The bird will flit among tree branches, catching small creatures such as spiders, flies and caterpillars. It often takes food from the underside of branches, hanging upside down to reach its prey.