As some of you may know, we have taken the hard decision to close our photo hide at the end of April. The hide has been in operation for some time but is coming to the end of its useful life. The structure is ageing and in need of increasing repairs and maintenance, and managing the facility is taking up a large amount of staff time in a period when we need to concentrate our effort on the reserve as a whole. 

Our priority at Lochwinnoch has to be maintaining and improving the site’s important habitats for wildlife. We have a number of projects already underway, such as the new rafts on the lochs and a sand martin bank in front of the Channel Hide. We’re also bringing in new management practices around the reserve, including rotational cutting in the fen to allow early successional species to flourish and create more winter open water habitat, green haying on the meadow to encourage more wildflowers, and management of the channel edges to encourage more invertebrates and improve the conditions for feeding wildfowl and waders. We hope this will not only provide more homes for nature, but encourage a wildlife spectacle that can be enjoyed by everyone. 

We are trying to open up the reserve for as wide an audience as possible and are looking at the needs of all our visitors. In the last year we've installed new safety barriers in the car park, refurbished the natural play area, and put in new drainage and borders along the trails to help us keep them open. We’re also looking at our provision of hides and screens going forwards, to help people get closer to wildlife without causing a disturbance. 

We’re sad to see the photo hide go, and we understand that it will be missed by those who have used it. But we are also keen to hear how we might meet the need of photographers in other ways around the reserve as we go forward. Thank you very much for your support, and if you’d like to talk to us about this in person, please do just pop into our visitor centre.  

  • Thank goodness the photo hide is being discontinued. Ive never agreed with photo hides as members of the RSPB have to pay an extortionate fee to use that fee to the advantage of the average RSPB member and get an advantage over everyone else and get a closer view of birds and other wildlife. I just hope other RSPB reserves do the same as I've posted about this in other threads and blogs about this over the last few years and i feel very strongly about this.