RSPB Gives Nature a Home in Topsham (with a little help from Wild Deck)

October 01, 2014

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Bowling Green Marsh Bird Hide Opening Friday 3rd October

One of our most recent projects, the redesign of the Bowling Green Bird Hide in Topsham, Exeter, is due to be opened officially this Friday, 3rd of October. TV presenter and President of the RSPB Miranda Krestovnikoff will cut the ribbon at 12pm.

“I’m delighted to be opening this new hide. One thing I’m passionate about is connecting people with nature, and this building will really help people make the most of the bird spectacle here on the Exe Estuary, especially in winter.”

Miranda Krestovnikoff, RSPB President

The opening will take place alongside a day of activities to celebrate the new hide.

“We have a fun and creative day planned to celebrate, including activities for all the family; a chance to start work on the new community wildlife garden; live art and storytelling performances. There will even be some tasty local food for sale, kindly donated by Darts Farm, Tom’s Pies, Otterton Mill, Topsham Kitchen Deli and Tideford Organics – there’s something for everyone to enjoy.”

Morwenna Griffiths, RSPB

Miss Griffiths added:

“Bowling Green hide has always been really popular with our birding enthusiasts. The views across Bowling Green Marsh and the Exe Estuary are stunning; it’s a great place to watch the estuary’s wildlife, particularly the 40,000 wintering water birds that call the Exe home at this time of year.”

The original hide was built in 1996 with funds raised by the Topsham community in memory of much loved local, Bryan Baker. Brian co-founded the Topsham Birdwatching and Naturalist Society in 1969. A plaque dedicating the original hide to his memory remains on the new build.

Improved design and accessibility

The works, carried out by the Wild Deck Company, have dramatically improved the accessibility of the hide. It’s now easier to access, more welcoming and offers an incredible view of the surrounding wildlife.

“The hide’s new extension offers a breathtaking floor-to-ceiling panorama of the whole marsh, it almost frames it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know whether the bird you’re looking at is widgeon or an avocet, Bowling Green hide is now the perfect spot to simply pull up a bench and lose yourself in nature.”

“We have also greatly improved the original hide by lowering the windows for wheelchair users and making the windows bigger so that the hide’s regulars gain an even better sight of the nature reserve’s wildlife. We have clad the old hide’s breeze block structure in FSC wood and painted the interior, giving it a warmer and more welcoming feel.”

Morwenna Griffiths, RSPB

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Tony Richardson, the South West Regional Director of the RSPB, had this to say about the new hide and Bowling Green Marsh.

“Bowling Green Marsh is a gem of an RSPB nature reserve – small but perfectly formed, it provides a vital safe haven and roost for large numbers of wading birds and waterfowl that visit the Exe Estuary, especially at high tide.”

“I had the pleasure of visiting the new viewing facility that offers up this spectacle of nature just the other day, and was delighted to see the result. A group of very happy people were watching the hundreds of godwits and curlew at one end of the building, which is part hide and part observatory, whilst I stood entranced in front of the picture windows, taking in the views and feeling part of the landscape. I cannot wait to go again and share the experience with my friends!”

Tony Richardson, RSPB South West Regional Director

Community Wildlife Garden needs local support

The next part of the hide’s transformation is to turn its garden into a community Wildlife Garden and the RSPB are seeking local support to help make this happen. Anyone wishing to help are advised to get in touch with: Morwenna Griffiths, the Reserves and Premises Coordinator (

A letter of reference from the RSPB regarding our work

The RSPB’s Clare Elcoate, Projects Manager for the South West was kind enough to send us this letter of reference in response to our work on the Bowling Green Marsh Hide.

Building Works at RSPB's Bowling Green Marsh Visitor Point

RSPB South West commissioned Russell Bowlby and his team to complete a revamp of an existing bird hide and build an extension to it.

We are extremely happy with the result. We now have a much more welcoming visitor area and vastly improved windows, including floor-to-ceiling window. The building is much more attractive being wooden rather than concrete and is twice as big as it was before.

Russell's team were responsible for the demolition of the old hide, rebuilding the roof and cladding of existing building - plus the addition of a brand new extension incorporating the floor-to-ceiling window. The works included a vastly improved walkway into and in front of the hide.

The works were completed within budget, on time and to a very high standard. The team were very sensitive to the fact they were working next to a bird reserve and SSSI and kept noise to a minimum and ensured proper screening was in place. They also had to deal with the many hide users who wanted an update on progress. They were always polite and courteous and as a result we did not receive any complaints from the hide users or local residents.

RSPB are very happy with the works completed and are very proud of the new facility. More importantly visitors to our reserve have expressed how pleased they are with the improvements. In addition we have achieved our objectives of attracting more people into the hide, not just birdwatchers, giving us the opportunity to connect more people with nature and their environment.

We would definitely recommend the Wild Deck Company if you want high quality work completed on time and within budget.

Clare Elcoate
RSPB Projects Manager, South West Region

Click here to find out more about our Bird Hides or Contact Us if you have a project that you’d like to discuss.

The Wild Deck Company.