Thatcham’s Nature Discovery Centre is taking a novel approach to making two new bird hides – by using shipping containers. These containers will be transformed into hiding places for nature lovers to watch wildlife. The work is being organised by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), which manages the site.
The Trust is also improving the margins of the island in the Discovery Centre lake to attract more wildlife, putting up new display boards and installing new trail markers on the woodland walks around the site – and the local community will be asked to get involved at every stage.
The £125,000 funding for the works is all coming from waste company Grundon, through the Landfill Communities Fund, which allows firms to pay less landfill tax if they contribute to environmental projects.
Jo Thrussell, BBOWT’s NDC manager, said:
“This is such an exciting opportunity to transform the Nature Discovery Centre.
“We already have so many visitors and so much wildlife, but these lake margin improvements will help us attract an even more diverse range of species and the bird hides will allow our visitors to watch all the animals we have here and get to know them better than ever.
“These improvements will really allow people to discover nature in a new way.”
The first bird hide will be built in woodland a short walk from the NDC building, and feeding stations will be created in front of it so that people can observe a wide variety of garden birds.
The second hide will be installed at the edge of the lake to offer a perfect view of the island – which is a protected area for black-headed gulls and also home to cormorants, kingfishers and great crested grebes – and also the recently-installed tern nesting raft.
The new hide will also give a perfect view of the sixty metre long new margins around the island, being created from coconut fibre coir pallets, with marginal water plants like reeds, purple loosestrife and yellow flag iris planted in them. These will attract more invertebrates such as dragonflies and damselflies, which will in turn attract more birds to the lake.
Tom Hayward, BBOWT’s Senior Land Manager for Berkshire, said:
“This project is a perfect example of how we can help the natural world in so many ways. Firstly, we can use environmentally-friendly coconut fibres to create a whole new area of wildlife habitat. It might seem small, but small areas of important habitat are exactly what we need to create a giant living jigsaw puzzle of land for wildlife which can start to help nature’s recovery.”
The Grundon funding will also help to pay for new interpretation panels to go in the bird hides and at the lakeside, and new trail markers to signpost the woodland walks around the NDC site.
The first works are starting this month (September) with volunteers helping to clear vegetation to make way for the hides.
The shipping containers are expected in November, ready to use this winter when large groups of wintering wildfowl congregate on the lake.
The local community will also be asked to get involved in naming the trails around the site.
When the work is complete, more volunteers will be needed to fill bird feeders and help keep the new hides clean and tidy, while knowledgeable birders will be invited to lead ‘Guide in the Hide’ sessions.
To find out more about how to get involved with all of BBOWT’s work, go to https://www.bbowt.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer
Image: Discovery Centre Commercial Manager Tanya Alexander and Visitor Centre Manager Jo Thrussell. Picture by Pete Hughes by permission of BBOWT.