The British Trust for Ornithology officially opened a public viewing platform on its Nunnery Lakes nature reserve this week.
In the autumn of 2017 Dr Ian Henderson, of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in Thetford was guiding a walk to show progress with the flood meadows project on the Nunnery Lakes Nature Reserve. “What would be great”, Ian mused, “Is an elevated viewing platform, next to the bird hide, so visitors could see over the new wetland habitat and the wildlife it will attract.” Now, thanks to generous grants from the Postcode Local Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, and from Thetford Town Council, the viewing platform has become a reality.
The platform was officially opened on 7 February with the ceremony performed by the Mayor of Thetford, Councillor Roy Brame, together with Councillor Brenda Canham, who chairs the Ammenities Committee which approved the council grant.
Made of sturdy oak, the 3 metre-high platform allows 360 degree viewing along the river Little Ouse and over the restored flood meadows and the lakes which remain from historic gravel works that helped to build Thetford. The installation of the new viewing point is the culmination of improvements made to the reserve over many years, beginning with the restoration of river meanders in 1994 which vastly enriched the ecology of the river as well as benefitting Thetford by holding and diverting flood waters away from the town centre.
Ian Henderson, Nunnery Lakes Reserve Manager, said, “It is great to see the viewing platform in place on the reserve. I always thought the views it could give would bring a new perspective to the reserve but it will also allow many more people to see the wildlife that uses the flood meadows and help us monitor this too.”
The grant application for the viewing platform to Thetford Town Council was championed by Cllr John Newton who very sadly passed away in January. It would be lovely to think of this new perspective for the public to enjoy over the Nunnery Lakes Nature Reserve as part of his lasting legacy.
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Notes to editors
1. The viewing platform has been funded with a grant of £1,975 from Thetford Town Council and a grant of £20,000 from the Postcode Local Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
2. The Nunnery Lakes Nature Reserve lies south of Thetford town and is owned and managed by the British Trust or Ornithology (BTO). The reserve comprises 81 hectares of wetland, woodland, grassland, fen and open water lakes, fed by the Little Ouse and Thet rivers. These habitats support many breeding and wintering birds, bats, invertebrates and plants, currently standing at over 2,497 identified species. The reserve is an important recreational asset for the town, being popular with walkers, photographers and birdwatchers, with fishing rights leased to the Nunnery Lakes Fishing Syndicate.
The reserve is open to members of the public during daylight hours.
3. The BTO is the UK's leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to the BTO's surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Bangor (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. The BTO's work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations. www.bto.org