Wildlife site gets new tower hide
Natural England’s Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve, in Somerset, has a new tower hide. One of England’s most important wildlife sites, the new tower allows elevated views over the lakes and reedbeds of Meare Heath and the Avalon Marshes, while providing improved access to the reserve for visitors. Shapwick is home to such rare UK species as Bittern, Bearded Tit and Marsh Harrier, and is a prime spot from which to witness Starling murmurations in winter, as well as a large variety of mammal and insect life. The former peat beds are visited by thousands of visitors every year and the new hide was built using donations to a crowdfunding campaign in December last year, which raised the £17,000 needed in a very short time. The opening ceremony was attended by more than 40 supporters of the project, and was officially opened by Dr Andy Clements, board member of Natural England and Director of the BTO. A partnership between the Loro Parque Fundacion and the Amorentia Estate in South Africa may have solved a conflict between parrots and bees. The endangered Cape Parrot has been badly hit by a lack of suitable tree cavities used by the species for nesting. The erection of nest boxes should have helped solve the problem but for one thing; honey bees, which have outcompeted the parrots for the boxes. Last year, however, the partnership implemented a ‘push-pull’ method of pest management to free the boxes for the birds. The push consists of a safe permethrin insect repellent to dissuade the bees from using the nests. The pull comprised bee traps set close to the nest boxes. These traps when full were taken to the fruit and nut orchards on the estate where the bees were transferred to specially built hives. Researchers hope that this will now enable the parrots to nest, while also providing much needed income from beekeeping for local communities.