As most of you will know Blashford Lakes nature reserve is managed by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust one of the many charitable Wildlife trusts around the country that between them manage tens of thousands of hectares of our very best wildlife habitat. As charities we seek donations from supporters, visitors and others to enable us to keep going. Perhaps contrary to the belief of some, membership income only supports a very small part of the work the Trusts do. So it is at Blashford that we ask for cash donations from our visitors, in addition some people also give us useful things like a sack of bird food or their time as volunteers.
At other times we get “Donations” that are less welcome, one such was a large drinks chiller that was “donated” out of the back of a van this morning.
This is one donation that may well cost us a bit to dispose of. However they don’t call me “Sherlock” for nothing (or actually at all), but I have some leads as to how it got there and even where it might have come from. You can watch this space for further exciting instalments!
Dealing with this kind of thing is just one of many ways that we end up having to spend money on the reserve that brings no benefit to either wildlife or visitors, very frustrating and unfortunately not at all uncommon.
The reserve is run as a partnership with the two water company landowners (Wessex Water and Bournemouth Water) and New Forest District Council and they provide the site and pay some of the running costs. However the Wildlife Trust also covers a share of the costs and raises all of the money for facilities such as bird hides, paths etc. and their maintenance.
Our average donation per visitor is about 30p, which annually amounts to just about sufficient to cover the costs of emptying the cess pit, filling the bird feeders and providing a tern raft. It is perhaps not surprising that at a lot of reserves you will be asked to pay £3 or £4 to get in, actually not bad value for half or even a full day out. A few years ago we asked people what they thought a visit to Blashford was worth and the average came out at £3.75, or about the price of a pint of beer or a fancy coffee (or perhaps a not very fancy coffee!). So if you can make a donation when you visit it will be VERY welcome, although we have all the white goods we need, so no more of those please.
Today’s birds were, like the visitors, rather damp, but they included the bittern at Ivy North hide and the black-necked grebe out on Ibsley Water.
Off to go sleuthing………