Grundon funding recycles old shipping containers into bird hides at Berkshire nature haven

Two industrial shipping containers have been recycled and transformed into bespoke hides for bird watchers at one of Berkshire’s best-loved nature havens – thanks to funding from Grundon.

The huge steel boxes have been installed at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham by Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT).

From left to right: Anthony Foxlee-Brown and Kirsti Santer of Grundon, and Tanya Alexander and Tom Hayward of BBOWT in the new lakeside bird hide.
From left to right: Anthony Foxlee-Brown and Kirsti Santer of Grundon, and Tanya Alexander and Tom Hayward of BBOWT in the new lakeside bird hide.

The Trust bought and refurbished the containers thanks to a £123,000 grant from waste and recycling experts Grundon via the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF). The LCF is an innovative tax credit scheme which incentivises business to recycle more, whilst enabling landfill operators to contribute to local community and environmental projects.

The Trust has also used some of the funding to create new plant-filled margins around the lake to provide more wildlife habitat, and has created new nature trials around the site.

The insides of both hides have been kitted out with comfortable wooden benches and feature artistic interpretation panels on the walls to provide visitors to the Nature Discovery Centre with information about the species that inhabit the reserve.
The insides of both hides have been kitted out with comfortable wooden benches and feature artistic interpretation panels on the walls to provide visitors to the Nature Discovery Centre with information about the species that inhabit the reserve.

Tanya Alexander, Manager of the Nature Discovery Centre, said:

“We are so excited about all these new features – the new bird hides look brilliant, people are already enjoying them, and we were so glad to make use of these old containers.

“The new lake margins are settling in really nicely and the new trails around the site give you a chance to take in all of these improvements, so it works really well together. When you come here for a day out now, there are all these new things to check out, and hopefully they’ll all inspire people to get more interested in our beautiful natural world.”

The first of the new bird hides has been perched on the edge of the large wildlife lake which is home to a huge variety of ducks, geese and swans, and is also a protected area for black-headed gulls and home to cormorants, kingfishers and great crested grebes.

Inside the hide there are comfortable wooden benches to sit on and artistic interpretation panels on the walls with fascinating facts about the species to be seen. That hide also directly overlooks some of the 60 metres of new margins which were created on the bank near the main visitors centre and around the famous wild island in the centre of the lake.

These margins were created out of coconut fibre coir pallets, with native 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.

60 metres of new margins have been created on the banks and around theisland in the centre of the lake to provide improved habitat for a number of species including invertebrates such as such as dragonflies and damselflies.
60 metres of new margins have been created on the banks and around theisland in the centre of the lake to provide improved habitat for a number of species including invertebrates such as such as dragonflies and damselflies.

The second bird hide, which also has benches and beautiful wildlife interpretation panels, has been installed in a peaceful woodland a short walk from the visitor centre, where visitors can watch out for a whole different range of species.

A new wooden bird feeder frame has been set up in front of the hide to encourage woodland and garden bird species.
Nearby, the new trail markers signpost woodland walks around the lake, guiding visitors around some of the most scenic viewpoints.

Nestled in the woodland near the visitor centre is the second bird hide, complete with interpretation boards and a new wooden bird feeder.
Nestled in the woodland near the visitor centre is the second bird hide, complete with interpretation boards and a new wooden bird feeder.

Anthony Foxlee-Brown, Grundon’s Head of Marketing & Communications, said:

“As a long-time supporter of BBOWT, we were thrilled to support these lakeside improvements at the Nature Discovery Centre. We were especially pleased to follow on from our previous support in 2019 when we helped to fund improvements to the facilities and access in the waterfront area.

“These improvements help to bring visitors to the NDC closer to nature, providing opportunities to not only enjoy the wildlife which has made the lake and surrounding woodland their home, but also to help improve the visitor experience through improved signage and interpretation boards.”

As always, BBOWT is indebted to the dedicated volunteers who help maintain sites and facilities – in this case helping to keep the new bird feeders topped up and keeping the new hides clean and tidy.

To find out more about how to get involved with all of BBOWT’s work, go to bbowt.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer

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