Bird hides opening at Manor Farm on 14 March 2016

Hi all.

As many of you have already noticed the construction of the floodplain forest nature reserve at Manor Farm is nearing completion. Our contractor has been on site since October 2015 and has now almost completed the 2.5km of footpaths, and most of the fences, boardwalks and bridges have now been installed. The three bird hides have been installed in the past fortnight but have remained locked for health and safety reasons. I’m pleased to say that as of Monday 14th March – assuming conditions are favourable – there will be some access to the nature reserve. The large central hide and the western hide, towards the Iron Trunk, will be open as will the path that connects them. The doors will not be locked from that point on. Our contractor will still be on site operating heavy machinery for several weeks so we will not be able to open up the third hide at the Haversham Road end just yet. While the contractor is still working on site, please keep to the area described above – there will be some temporary hazard fencing and signage indicating areas which remain out of bounds. Of course, you can continue to view the pits from anywhere along the riverside (northern) boundary and we now expect to be able to open the nature reserve fully some time in April.

It was our intention to begin to open up the reserve in January 2016 but unfortunately the wettest winter that anyone can remember has caused some delays. The contractors have done an incredible job given the conditions.

We have had a few questions about the materials used for the footpaths and boardwalks. The boardwalks are made from a composite material that will resist rotting and have a natural non-slip surface, while the footpaths are made from recycled car tyres! This means they are permeable and as floodwater recedes they will drain quickly. Of course, some work will be ongoing for months ahead – with tree planting, reed planting and some additional stock fencing to go in later this year. Walking around the site with a colleague yesterday, there was little of note other than a good number of Common Snipe, with every ditch and pond seeming to hold two or three.

Here’s to many years of good birding and wildlife watching at Manor Farm. Enjoy!

Martin Kincaid
Biodiversity Officer, The Parks Trust