After months of having to keep our hides closed to visitors, the changes in Government guidance that came into effect on Monday 17 May mean we’re delighted to have reopened our three hides this week.

Not only is this good news to have some shelter from the erratic spring weather we’ve been having lately, it also allowed the delayed, much-anticipated opening of the new Border hide that was finished way back in November.

 Border hide and Centenary Pool (Liz Boone)

This means everything except our visitor centre is now open for visitors’ use. An at-a-glance guide to what’s available is as follows:

 Car park (9am-9pm)

 Nature trails

 Hides

 Toilets

 Outdoor welcome point

  Takeaway refreshments (9.30am-4.30pm)

  Mail-order shop (9.30am-4.30pm)

 Visitor centre

In line with Government guidance, in order to keep everybody safe, capacity in hides is limited to allow social distancing, and face coverings must be worn except for those who are exempt from doing so. Information will be provided by our welcome team on arrival, and the hides are labelled with their maximum numbers.

Also, we ask you to please consider your dwell time in the hides to allow everyone the opportunity to take a turn inside, especially of the new Border hide with its views of the old Inner Marsh Farm part of the site which visitors have not had since before the Covid pandemic began.

A one-way system is directed around Marsh Covert hide to keep things flowing, and Border hide's two doors are labelled "entrance" and "exit" to reduce congestion and close contact with visitors from outside your household or bubble.

 Border hide entry door (Dan Trotman)

In case you are unaware, the Border hide project aimed to improve the accessibility of the reserve, and includes some new boardwalk and upgraded hard path to allow wheelchair and pushchair access to the new hide, opening up this far side of Burton Mere Wetlands to visitors who may previously have never been able to visit Inner Marsh Farm hide.

Another change this week is the return of sandwiches to our takeaway food and drinks that we resumed back in March, lovingly made by Simon and his team at The Village Bakehouse & Deli in nearby Little Neston. With plentiful picnic tables dotted around the reserve relatively close to the welcome area, you can pick up everything for a substantial lunch directly from us, with profits supporting conservation work at the reserve and saving you from having to make your own packed lunch at home!

Contactless card payment facilities are available, and preferred, for buying refreshments along with paying entry fees, binocular hire, shop purchases, pin badges and everything else up to the contactless limit.

The one facility yet to reopen is our visitor centre. Although the impressive views from the panoramic windows mean many visitors enjoy it as a luxury hide, the breadth of activities taking place inside including food and drink service and mail-order shop, means it is a highly dynamic space and as such will take significant effort to keep it Covid-safe once visitors are mixing inside again with staff and volunteers. We are keen to reach this stage, and all being well the visitor centre will reopen on 21 June, if Step 4 of the Government roadmap out of lockdown goes ahead as planned.

Currently, limited visitor centre access is available for shop customers to browse our display of bird foods, feeders and nestboxes, try binoculars or telescopes - although can be easily done outside - and pay for shop orders at the till.

Hopefully as we approach summer, we will see the weather improve and ample opportunities to enjoy fresh air and sunshine along our extensive trails and well-ventilated hides. As restrictions continue to ease and people start venturing further from home, we look forward to welcoming more of you back to Burton Mere Wetlands.

In the meantime, thank you for your support and patience. For the latest RSPB Covid-19 updates please visit: https://bit.ly/reservesreboot

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