Repairing the bird hide at Whiteford Burrows

Sand dunes at Whiteford Burrows

What it is

In the 1960s, a bird hide was installed at Whiteford Burrows by the Nature Conservancy Council. This was popular with bird watchers for viewing the birds that fed on the mud flats exposed at low tides. By 2000 this hide had degraded and was replaced.
The new wooden bird hide was constructed using funds given in memory of Sir William Wilkinson. This hide was built to last, however, due to changing tide and sand bars patterns, it soon became unstable. It eventually closed in 2003 when it was declared unsafe.

What we did and why we did it

A solution had to be found that would bring the bird hide back into use. As part of this project we had to consider the extreme exposure and changing landscape of the location; and the dynamic nature of the birds feeding habitats, which had moved and could no longer be seen from the hide. There was also a section of the wood to the rear of the hide, which was completely rotten.
We needed to think creatively to come up with a solution which would take into account the changing environment.
The bird hide had to be transportable because of the movement of the sand spits and consequential shift in bird habitats. It also had to be as unobtrusive as possible, able to stand up to the elements, high exposure, and the likely risk of saline corrosion.
After some lateral thinking, the project team decided to repair the wooden hide and sit it on a galvanised steel sledge base. This meant that it could now be towed into different positions as the changing habitat dictated.

What else did we do?

Once the bird hide had been repaired and attached to its new base, it was painted green to help it to blend in with its surroundings.
As a finishing touch, we decorated the interior of the bird hide with bird identification posters. We also erected a plaque in memory of Sir William Wilkinson, whose family had originally funded the bird hide.

Why it was a success

The bird hide has had nothing but praise from local bird watchers who are delighted, not only with the new location, but with the novel idea that it can be towed to different sites whenever necessary.
The birds are also happy – with the resident swallows continuing to nest in the roof.