Gwen’s Hide is a large bird hide with a sedum roof that we built at Abberton Reservoir for Essex Wildlife Trust, looking out over the reservoir. The area is a very popular bird watching site and this is just one of six bird hides that we built on the site, in addition to two dipping platforms, a sculpture trail, and a play area. The hide features a fence that shields visitors from view when approaching the hide.
Here you can see the old bird hide and the new bird hide.
Whilst the old hide served an important purpose for a number of years, the new hide marks a significant improvement in the experience of nature watching at Abberton Reservoir. The new hide offers a much more comfortable viewing experience, fits more naturally into the landscape, and can accommodate a larger number of visitors.
This contrast between the two hides exemplifies what it is that we want to achieve at Flights of Fantasy – creating natural looking hides that are highly functional. Another project where you can see the old to new transition is at our Bowling Green Marsh Bird Hide where we took over an incomplete concrete shell, and made something that nature lovers could enjoy visiting.
Despite being a very sizeable bird hide with five front-facing and four side-facing, large, double shuttered windows, we wanted the structure to blend in naturally with the environment. To achieve this, we integrated several different design features. From the front, the hide features a fence that acts as a screen, hiding nature watchers from the view of wildlife as they approach the hide. From behind, many trees were planted that will (eventually) hide the hide (no pun intended) from sight. We also installed a sedum roof, meaning it even looks natural to birds flying overhead!
Sedum is a fleshy-leaved plant with small, star-shaped yellow, pink, or white flowers. A sedum roof is a type of living, green roof that looks natural and offers environmental benefits by creating a microclimate that can support many insects and other small creatures whilst contributing to a greener planet. A sedum roof significantly reduces the surface run off of rainfall and green roofs have been shown to substantially increase the life of waterproofing membranes lying at the base of the roof.
At The Wild Deck Company, we believe that a bird hide is not only a functional structure, but also a place of community that people should enjoy visiting. It is with this in mind that we design and construct all of our bird hides, making them comfortable and aesthetically pleasing, in addition to being the functional bird watching hides that they primarily need to be.
The double shuttered windows allow nature watchers to open the shutters that they are looking through, keeping the others closed, minimising disturbances to the wildlife and adding some extra protection from the elements.
There is a bench behind the windows for bird watchers to sit on, allowing extended bird watching sessions that wouldn’t be permitted by tired legs.
The naturalist and broadcaster – and an icon of recent decades – Sir David Attenborough, paid a visit to Abberton Reservoir to mark the completion of the £150 million Abberton Scheme by unveiling a special engraved stone.
Our hides were a part of this huge scheme which enlarged Abberton Reservoir by 58% whilst creating a vastly improved habitat for wildlife.
Sir David commented, “I can remember a time when nature conservation and development were seen to be in opposition – you either developed or conserved – and that led to confrontation. Here at Abberton Reservoir this is fundamentally, extraordinarily, and wonderfully different.”
This idea of development and environmental conservation goes hand in hand with our core beliefs at The Wild Deck Company and we are very proud to be part of such a forward thinking, environmentally friendly development project. As Sir David Attenborough said, conservation and development no longer have to be at loggerheads, and we hope to see many more projects that align with this ethos in the future.
Like all of our creations, this was a custom built bird hide that we constructed in our workshop in Norfolk. When we had everything we needed, we brought the timber to site and put the bird hide together. Working in this way minimises the amount of time we have to stay away from home, thus reducing overheads which we can pass on as a saving to customers.
Gwen’s Hide is just one structure among five bird hides, a children’s visitor centre, an outdoor play area, and a sand martin bank that we built at Abberton Reservoir. You can take a look at the full list of what we have made at Abberton Reservoir for Essex Wildlife Trust, whilst some of the bigger creations are outlined below:
A large, sedum roof bird hide with entrance ramp and screen fencing.
A sedum roofed bird hide with an access ramp and screens.
A dual purpose structure that functions as both a bird hide and a children’s information centre.
A large, cedar shingle roofed bird hide with a screened entrance ramp.
A small, raised bird hide with an open back. We built two like this.
Aside from the odd, special day, such as the official opening by Sir David Attenborough, we don’t often get to visit our sites regularly and hear what people think of them. However, the following reviews have been left on Tripadvisor since we completed the project.
“Bird hide out 10/10”
by Brandon R
“Excellent bird-watching centre”
by Anthony R
“Lovely hides to watch the birds and wildlife”
“Extremely disabled-friendly. [..] I Could easily access the entire site including the hides.”
by Sheila D
At the Wild Deck Company, we only choose ethically sourced FSC timber in all of our projects or wood from a similarly proven sustainable source. Using either hardwood or softwood, our bird hides are made to exact specifications and, if using softwood, can be treated and painted in a range of colours. Roofs can pitched or flat, and can be thatched using local straw or reed, topped with cedar shingles, or we can install a green, living roof, such as a sedum roof.
All of our bird hides feature access steps and / or ramps, braced wall sections in a wide choice of finishes, and rainwater control. As each project is bespoke, you can choose to customise your bird hide so that it is exactly what you need it to be to work for your environment. Some of the features we have incorporated into our bird hide designs in the past include shutters, windows (fitted with safety glass or polycarbonate where necessary), lean-on shelves, seating, rails, notice boards, lighting and emergency lighting (including solar-powered), and WCs that discharge to bio treatment plants. And if you have anything else in mind, we can probably incorporate that into the design too.
Please take a moment to look at some of the other bird hide constructions we have undertaken in the past and see the great scope of creativity available when creating bird hides – it might also give you some ideas for your own hide.
Please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us via email or phone to discuss your own hide – we are only too happy to help, and can work from strict plans or design a bird hide completely from scratch to fit your needs. We can also incorporate the design with other features to compliment your natural setting such as boardwalks, dipping platforms, and observation decks / viewing platforms.
We look forward to hearing from you.