Grants windfall is a winner for wildlife watchers

A smart new bird hide and a live wildlife webcam provided by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust are offering the public exciting new opportunities to watch wildlife this spring.

The bespoke circular hide has been built near the River Thames at the Trust’s flagship Chimney Meadows Nature Reserve, near Abingdon. The Trust’s new wildlife camera has been installed at its College Lake Visitor Centre, near Tring. Both of the new installations have been provided thanks to generous grants from donors.

Bird Hide

Constructed using sustainable materials, the Thames Observation Platform overlooks the Trust’s land at Duxford Old River and the National Nature Reserve (SSSI). Visitors can enjoy a window onto wildflower meadows and wetlands, home to nationally important species and some of the rarest habitats in the Upper Thames area.

New bird hide at Chimney Meadows - Credit BBOWT

Located on the Thames Path, the hide allows visitors uninterrupted 360 degree views of the ground-nesting birdlife, as well as panoramic views along the river, where kingfishers may be spotted hunting. The area is also known for its curlew, snipe and lapwing, as well as otters and water voles.

Generously funded by The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development through Oxfordshire LEADER, and with support from the FCC Community Foundation and The Gemma and Chris McGough Charitable Foundation, this carefully designed hide is the perfect place to stop and enjoy the tranquillity of the Upper Thames.

Webcam

The Trust’s new webcam streams images live from inside Graham’s Hide at College Lake Visitor Centre, offering wildlife watchers the chance to spot rare species from the comfort of their own homes.

College Lake bird hide livestream

College Lake is one of the best places in Buckinghamshire for water birds and there’s something to see all year round. Depending on the season, visiting birds include breeding waders such as lapwing or redshank and the common tern.

The camera was installed thanks to a generous donation from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and enables wildlife watchers from around the world to take a peek at some of Buckinghamshire’s most precious wildlife.

Estelle Bailey, Chief Executive of BBOWT and a keen birdwatcher, said:

“BBOWT is dedicated to improving the environment for nature, but also to improving people’s access to it. The pandemic has shown us that nature is vital for our health and wellbeing, and by encouraging people to get closer to nature, we can inspire them to help us protect it for future generations.

“We hope walkers along the Thames Path will stop and make use of our fantastic new viewing platform at Chimney Meadows, while thanks to the wonders of technology, the whole world can tune in to take a look at the wildlife at College Lake.

“We would like to say a huge thank-you to the very generous donors who have helped us bring our wonderful wildlife closer to so many more people.”

Lapwing - Credit David Longshaw

Lapwing - Credit David Longshaw

Chimney Meadows at Bampton is an ancient landscape and a vital refuge for wading birds. It is BBOWT's largest nature reserve in Oxfordshire. College Lake near Tring in Buckinghamshire is an outstanding centre for wildlife, that delights and informs wildlife watchers of all ages. It boasts interactive visitor displays, as well as a café and lakeside walks.