New bird hide opens in North Devon wildlife haven

Monday 13th March 2017

Meeth Quarry bird hide

Binoculars at the ready – it’s all about wildlife watching as a brand new bird hide opens at Devon Wildlife Trust’s popular Meeth Quarry nature reserve, near Hatherleigh, North Devon.

Funded and constructed by a local group of Devon Wildlife Trust volunteers, the hide sits in the centre of the 150-hectare nature reserve and offers an unrivalled spot to observe the huge variety of wildlife that has made Meeth Quarry its home. 

Moorhen by Darin SmithThe hide’s location was carefully chosen to maximise the range of habitats visible from within the structure and boasts of stunning views across Stockleigh Lake and two ponds. Frequent visitors to the lake include great crested grebe, little grebe, tufted ducks, goosanders, coots and moorhens. The less common jack snipe and elusive water rail have also been spotted in this part of the reserve.

Birds aren't the only wildlife you'll see

Birds aren’t the only wildlife that visitors to the charity’s nature reserve can expect to see this spring – many dragonflies, damselflies and a variety of butterflies have also been spotted, including the nationally rare wood white butterfly.

Wildlife Skills Practical Conservation Trainee, Tom Parsons, said: “Meeth Quarry nature reserve has so much to offer with its diverse range of flora and fauna. The hide will add a new dimension to this amazing site and allow the public to get even closer to the wide variety of wildlife that visits this area.

“The construction and funding of the new hide has been dependent on the generosity of DWT supporters and the project has really evidenced how much the community care about their local wildlife and support the trust’s mission to safeguard Devon’s natural environment.”

Inside of the bird hide at Meeth QuarryDesigned and managed by DWT’s North Devon Land Management Team Leader Ian Chadwick, the hide is made of locally sourced and sustainably produced timber. The rustic wooden structure features a sedum green roof which allows it to blend subtly into its natural surroundings. Inside the hide movable benches will provide seating for up to 12 people and outside a ramp has been fitted to enable wheelchair access.

The new hide was built by a combination of DWT staff, members of the Barnstaple and District local group and members of the Halsdon and Dolton local group. Funding for the hide came from the Barnstaple and District local group and a generous local donor.

Incredibly grateful to DWT volunteers

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Nature Reserves Manager, Matt Boydell, said: “A lot of work has been done at Meeth since we acquired it in 2013 and the construction of a bird hide was always on our agenda. Since opening the reserve we’ve installed a range of trails, information panels, picnic seating, sculptures and even a bike park – we really believe that the new hide will enhance our visitors’ experience and allow people to witness Meeth’s wildlife at its best.

“Devon Wildlife Trust is incredibly grateful to Tom, the Barnstaple and North Devon local group, the Dolton and Halsdon local group and all of the other individuals who have given up their time and money to create this well-thought out and high-quality bird hide.”

Bird hide at Meeth Quarry side viewDevon Wildlife Trust purchased Meeth Quarry using funds provided by Viridor Credits Environmental Company and generous donations from individuals. Over the past three years the conservation charity has focused on clearing areas of scrubland to encourage wildflower meadows, opened up ponds for dragonflies and wading birds and maintained a safe home for the site’s resident Exmoor ponies.

The site was an operational clay quarry until 2004 and at its peak employed nearly 50 local people, producing 70,000 tonnes of clay per year. Much of this clay was used to make tiles, toilets, sinks and basins.

50 nature reserves

Devon Wildlife Trust now cares for 50 nature reserves across the county and Meeth Quarry is one of the biggest and most accessible. A network of easy access trails run throughout the site making it easy for walkers, cyclists and horse riders to explore the reserve. It has a large car park, toilet facilities and accessible tracks that will accommodate wheelchair and buggy users. The reserve can be accessed by the Tarka Trail cycle route which runs directly through the site or via an access lane from Meeth Village, just off the A386.

For more information about the nature reserve visit www.devonwildlifetrust.org/reserves/meeth-quarry