Island Bird Hide, Abberton Reservoir

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Main view island bird hide at abberton reservoir for essex wildlife trust 1
Interior with seating island bird hide at abberton reservoir for essex wildlife trust

Island Bird Hide is one of the three large bird hides that we built at Abberton Reservoir for Essex Wildlife Trust, in addition to building two smaller bird hides, a children’s visitor centre, and an outdoor play area. It features double shuttered windows, a pitched, cedar shingle roof, and a hidden boardwalk that shields nature watchers from view as they approach the hide.

Entrance and walkway island bird hide at abberton reservoir for essex wildlife trustBird Hides Are More Than Functional

At The Wild Deck Company, we believe that a bird hide is more than a functional structure. They are places where communities are built and where people choose to spend their spare time – it is with this in mind that we design and construct all of our bird hides. From our past experience we have found that when people enjoy a bird hide, they will come back to visit more regularly and they will spread the news to other bird watchers, attracting new visitors.

Interior with shutters open island bird hide at abberton reservoir for essex wildlife trustThe Approach

Bird Hides are all about fitting into nature and offering visitors the opportunity to watch nature without disturbing it. We built a wooden boardwalk with willow screens which serve the dual purpose of screening visitors from view when approaching the hide, as well as preventing the entrance to the hide becoming worn which would result in lots of soil being trafficked into the bird hide.

The Interior

The inside of the hide has fixed benches in front of each window, allowing bird watchers to stay longer than tired legs would permit them. Each window has double shutters that can be opened when in use, minimising unwanted interaction with the weather, and further shielding watchers from view.

A Cedar Shingle Roof

Whilst most of Island Hide is made from oak, the roof is a cedar shingle, pitched roof. Like everything we make, this bird hide is custom built and this is just one of the many customisations that is available.

The roof is hipped, overhanging with shelter beneath the eaves and weathers down to a beautiful, soft grey in time.

A Bird Hide For the Future

As with everything we make, this bird hide was built to last and will be standing for many, many years to come, allowing thousands of visitors to enjoy the nature at Abberton Reservoir. The site is extremely progressive and cares greatly about conservation – whilst also managing a very important water resource – and it has been a pleasure to be involved in the construction of five hides, a children’s visitor centre, and an outdoor play area.

Bird watching island bird hide at abberton reservoir for essex wildlife trust
Front island bird hide at abberton reservoir for essex wildlife trust 1

Sir david attenborough at abberton reservoir essex wildlife trustA Visit by Sir David Attenborough

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.


We built the bird hide at our workshop in Norfolk, then transported the materials to site and put them together on site. Working in this way minimises our time away from home which allows us to save on costs for our customers.

Construction interior island bird hide at abberton reservoir for essex wildlife trust
Construction main island bird hide at abberton reservoir for essex wildlife trust

Site visit island bird hide at abberton reservoir for essex wildlife trustWeathering Down

Built almost entirely from timber, our bird hides fit very well into natural environments. We like to allow our structures to weather down over time and take on subtle, natural hues.

This image was taken a couple of years after the bird hide installation and shows the hide looking as good as the day it was completed, only in softer colours.

Hiding in Plain Sight

When we installed this bird hide, it originally sat on a plain patch of grass which has now been planted. By incorporating planting schemes and letting nature surround a bird hide, it is very possible to hide a bird hide in a beautifully natural setting. As the plants grow, this one stands proudly looking over the reservoir, but in time, will become more hidden by the foliage.

The Complete Set of Structures at Abberton Reservoir

Island 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:

Hide Bay Hide

Right side hide bay bird hide with sedum roof at abberton reservoir for essex wildlife trust

A large, sedum roof bird hide with entrance ramp and screen fencing.

Gwen’s Hide

Rear view with planting gwens hide bird hide for essex wildlife trust at abberton reservoir

A sedum roofed bird hide with an access ramp and screens.

Children’s Visitor Centre

Interior windows open octagon bird hide childrens visitor information centre abberton reservoir essex wildlife trust

A dual purpose structure that functions as both a bird hide and a children’s information centre.

Island Hide

Front island bird hide at abberton reservoir for essex wildlife trust 1

A large, cedar shingle roofed bird hide with a screened entrance ramp.

Wigborough Bay Hide

Wigborough bay bird hide at abberton reservoir for essex wildlife trust 1

A small, raised bird hide with an open back. We built two like this.

Outdoor Play Area

Abberton cropped

A rustic, themed play area by our sister company, Flights of Fantasy.

What Visitors Are Saying About the Bird Hides at Abberton Reservoir

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”

by jocelynandrews45

“Extremely disabled-friendly. [..] I Could easily access the entire site including the hides.”

by Sheila D

Back island bird hide at abberton reservoir for essex wildlife trustBird Hide Design and Customisation

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, reed, cedar shingles, or sedum.

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.

Exit island bird hide at abberton reservoir for essex wildlife trustOther Creations

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.

Your Project

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.

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