I don’t know about you, but when I lose something or it breaks down, I’m not content to just replace it, I want an upgrade. I hope that’s how you all feel about our new hide.
In 1997, Birdwatching Magazine ran a competition for which the prize was a birdwatching hide worth the astronomical sum (at least it was in 1997) of £2,000. Our volunteer, Faith Darlow, entered that competition on behalf of the Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve and won! That wooden hide served us well for 17 years. THANK YOU FAITH! I can remember seeing 57 species of bird from that hide in one day, and that was on January 1.st
The hide was named after Derick Hayden who was the quarry manager at Paxton when the Nature Reserve was being created. More than that, he was incredibly helpful and supportive. Sadly, Derick died in 1996 and so the hide was opened by his widow, Wendy.
We asked Wendy and Derick’s son Duncan to unveil our brass plaque with Faith because of the family link but, by the most amazing coincidence, he is now the new quarry manager here at Paxton, just like his Dad! The quarry will be reopened in the New Year.
The original wooden bird hide was burnt down in July 2014. Work was put into raising money to replace the much loved and well used hide, and after incorporating many ideas from other hides around the country, a new and improved hide was built in March this year.
For those who haven't seen it yet, the new hide is made from a metal container, which has then been converted for use by the fitting of windows and benches. People told us it would be too cold, too hot, too noisy or just plain too ugly, but we ignored them!
Many people have played an important role in the project including the Paxton Pits Rangers and practical volunteer team as well as contractors. The man who was the driving force behind the project was our long-term volunteer, David Cobham. Children from the Environmental Education Centre were also involved and planted a new hedge in front of the hide.
Among the 40 invitees were Jacque Ransome who represented the Little Barford Power Station (who donated £1000); Cllr Bucknell, Cllr Carter, Jo Lancaster (Managing Director) represented the District Council; Mike Thomas (Chairman) and several Trustees were there on behalf of the Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve. Our old friend Alf Peacock, who built the foundations, came along which gave him the chance to meet Les who oversaw the project at S. Jones & Co.
Graeme King of Aggregate Industries made an announcement about the opening of the quarry, explaining that we should not expect to see any mineral being excavated and sold until early in 2016. All the same, the return of the company is big news for us and we look forward to the renewal of old friendships down at the quarry. There was no announcement of a timeline leading to the extension of the Reserve at this stage, but of course our hopes are raised that we will live to see the day!
Councillor Robin Carter, Executive Councillor for Operations and Environment, said: “Paxton Pits Nature Reserve is a wonderful place which is visited by over 100,000 people every year. The new bird hide is a great facility, allowing people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the wealth of wildlife at the reserve.”