Hides re-opening this Monday!

These views will be yours again!

Tern Hide looking north-east
Ivy South Hide looking north-east

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust has maintained the stance that our hides would re-open again in line with step 4 of the transition out of lockdown, ever since the Government revealed its roadmap in the Spring of this year.

That day has, finally, arrived, and as such the hides at both Blashford and Testwood Lakes will be open daily from Monday 19th July.

Clearly this transition out of COVID-19 restrictions is not without risk as the number of cases and hospital admittance continues to accelerate both nationally and, critically,  locally, and for this reason, and in order to give ALL of our visitors the confidence to use our facilities we will be asking that everyone wears a face covering while using a Hide, that they open sufficient windows to ensure a reasonable air circulation and that everyone observes a 1m+ social distancing between themselves and others not of their party.

We know of course that our hides can be very popular with photographers as well as birdwatchers and respectfully remind EVERYONE that with the number of people able to safely use the hides limited, if the nature reserve is busy with lots people wishing to view the wildlife from the hides it will not be appropriate for any individual to “set up camp” in a hide, but rather they should leave and allow other visitors to enjoy the views after a reasonable length of time.

We will be reviewing how the reopening goes in light of visitor feedback and, of course, as circumstances and/or government guidance changes, and will amend the way we ask visitors to use the hides, or close them again, accordingly.

Since the pandemic started our income has plummeted – both that which we normally generate through our educational visits and events, but also that which we normally receive from our visitors in-lieu of a reserve entry fee.

Even on those days when the site has been busy, which has been often, our visitor contributions have been well down on what we would normally expect.

This may, or may not, be a perceived reduction in benefit which some visitors may have been feeling for as long as the hides have been closed, not appreciating the costs that are involved with our maintaining the excellent footpaths around the site, providing toilet facilities, wardening it in light of antisocial behaviour, particularly last Summer, and continuing to manage the site for nature conservation.

Regardless of the reasons for the reduction in donations that we have seen, we are very much hoping that with the hides open again visitors will dip their hands into their wallets again. We absolutely do rely on your donations to continue our work at Blashford Lakes so thank you in advance and anticipation of your future generosity!

Please bear in mind that we will always endeavour to open our nature reserves but that, with our limited staff numbers against an ever increasing number of people being required to self-isolate, that it is becoming an increasingly likely possibility that there will be times when with very little, if any, notice, we will be unable to open on occasion.

Should this situation arise we will always let people know via Twitter (https://twitter.com/bobservablelife?lang=en,https://twitter.com/jimday22857614?lang=en or https://twitter.com/HantsIWWildlife), the website (https://www.hiwwt.org.uk/nature-reserves/blashford-lakes-nature-reserve) and, of course, this blog, just as soon as we are able to do so, so do keep an eye on all of these channels, especially before planning a visit from any distance away. And if you do arrive and find that we have been paralysed do take advantage of the fact that there is a very beautiful part of the New Forest just down the road and over the cattle-grid!

2 thoughts on “Hides re-opening this Monday!

  1. Good afternoon Jim.
    Thank you for the long awaited news re the Hides. Regarding photographers setting up camp, indeed I agree 100% with what you have stated however there will be the old and bold who will just sit in the best hide like they have always done and ignore the rules.
    On the second point regarding funds and costs. Some of us pay Hampshire wt on an annual basis and to that end have a membership ticket. I think a day at Blashford should be paid for either by ticket from the office or a charge for car parking. I know this would not be easy to police but a sticker similar to Titchfield Haven could be used and sooner or later people would get the message.
    Just my point of view as I love The place and hate to see people taking advantage and not following the rules
    Regards
    Bruce Greaves. Photograpy interests.

    • Thank you for sharing your point of view Bruce and rest assured that your observations are received in the manner in which they were attended. With respect to your first point I fear that you may be right, but very much hope that commonsense and decency will prove us both wrong, although of course only time will tell. We have not wished to be too prescriptive in opening the hides but will, as I said in the blog post, keep things under review and if this means imposing stay times in the hides, or even closing them again, this is what we will do.

      The subject of an entry fee to Blashford Lakes of some sort has come up before and will almost certainly come up again! As things stand at the moment it is unlikely to be something that will be introduced for a number of reasons, including the fact that the nature of the site is such that there are multiple entry points and an entry fee would therefore be difficult, if not impossible and certainly ineffective financially, to enforce. Secondly the nature of the Trusts membership and its status with HMRC is such that we are unable to offer membership “perks” like free entry to a nature reserve which is otherwise charged for without impacting on what taxes we may reclaim back (or something along those lines, I’m no accountant!) &, to date, the Trust has not felt that it is in it’s best interests to consider changing this
      status.

      Thank you for your annual membership- this genuinely helps the Trust both politically and financially but I will also add that we are also grateful for any additional contributions members are able to make (appreciating that some will not be able to do so) towards our work at Blashford Lakes directly if they have enjoyed our facilities.

      Look forward to seeing you soon!

      Jim

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