A specially designed hide introduced to bring wildlife and people closer together at a Wearside nature reserve has now opened.
The new 16-sided, accessible hide was officially opened at Washington Wetland Centre (WWT) by Zelda Baveystock and WWT’s CEO Martin Spray, along with other funders and councillors who helped with the build.
The project was given a healthy kick start thanks to a WWT member and regular visitor donation, as well as other funders including a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which gives grants to sustain and transform heritage in the UK.
Work on the hide started in January as part of a wider path and hides project, designed to allow improved access to all visitors to the saline lagoon area.
Highlights enjoyed by visitors include wild European otter, roe deer, breeding oystercatcher and an array of flora.
The addition of a composting toilet in October last year has also helped make the surrounding area convenient for everyone.
The lagoon is an example of one of the UK’s rarest habitats and its brackish nature – a mixture of fresh and sea water – provides the ideal salinity levels for a unique range of wetland species.
Centre manager Gill Pipes said: “It was important to us that the hide sat well within our natural environment, providing a comfortable and welcoming space for all visitors to our site - offering new areas for families to explore as well as a ‘green classroom’ for more than 6,000 school children a year.
“We can’t wait for visitors to come and experience firsthand the sights and sounds in and around the hide.”