Happy New Year!

We thought we’d kick 2020 off by giving you an update on the progress of the Kingfisher Viewing Hub.

Here is what we’ve been up to in the last few months…

Our fantastic team of Habitat Management volunteers completed their work clearing vegetation to allow access for contractors and creation of Water Vole habitat. Windows, benches and artwork were removed from the old hide.

Mike Langman, the talented original artist visited the reserve and spent some time retouching the existing artwork and delivered two brand new Water Vole pieces. The existing artwork will be reinstalled in the new Viewing Hub. We’re so pleased with the new artwork but we’re going to keep it a surprise for when the Kingfisher Viewing Hub opens later in the year!

The old Kingfisher Hide has now been demolished. After standing for around forty years on the reserve and allowing thousands of visitors to see and enjoy our Kingfishers we are sad to see it go. However, we are very excited for this new chapter that will allow the continued enjoyment of our breeding Kingfishers and other wildlife for many more years to come.

Any reusable materials were removed from the hide before it was demolished with any unusable materials being burnt.

The site of the old Kingfisher Hide and the future Kingfisher Viewing Hub

What’s happening now?

Our contractors are now working on constructing the concrete base for the new Kingfisher nesting bank which will be located to the left of the current one. We hope that this new bank will provide an easy second option for the Kingfishers in future years when the current nesting bank is no longer suitable. Depending on weather conditions the final stage of concreting the bank will be completed by the end of the week. Our volunteers will then work on creating nest chambers and sand layers.

Our contractors are starting to extend the pool and clear ditches to improve water movement and enhance viewing. We are also creating Water Vole habitat on the right of the pool. The habitat development will include a series of vegetated ‘fingers’ for burrowing and profiled banks to create feeding areas especially suited for Water Voles and designed so visitors to the Hub will have good views into the newly created habitat.


Construction of the new Kingfisher nest bank base.

What’s next?

Unfortunately, the project encountered a few bumps in the road (as you would expect with a project of this scale) due to poor weather conditions and unexpected building control guidelines. These bumps have resulted in a delay to the completion of the project so although our aim was for the project to be completed by the end of February, we will now be continuing work into March.

To ensure we minimise impact on the Kingfishers we have selected some elements of the project that will be delayed until the breeding season has ended. The work that will be carried out in March will be an access ramp and path to the Hub and the fitting of internal features so disturbance to wildlife will be reduced.

Gilleards – our hide contractors – are currently fabricating and then assembling the new Hub at their site in order to ensure seamless construction at the reserve. We are expecting Gilleards to commence construction of the new Viewing Hub in mid-February and work should take around three weeks to complete.

This is a busy and exciting stage of the project where lots will be happening so expect more frequent updates and photos!

Please keep an eye on our website, community blog, RSPB Rye Meads and our Facebook and Twitter pages for further project updates.

Website: www.rspb.org.uk/ryemeads

Community Blog: https://community.rspb.org.uk/placestovisit/ryemeads/b/ryemeads-blog

Twitter: @RSPBRyeMeads

Facebook: @RyeMeadsRSPB (currently appears as ‘RSPB news & views for London, Berkshire and Surrey’)