BBC Springwatch abandons plans to use new Paxton Pits viewing platform

THE BBC’s Springwatch team and naturalist Iolo Williams had been expected to make use of a new viewing platform overlooking the heronry and cormorant colony at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve when they were due to film there tomorrow (Tuesday) but have had to pull out at the last minute to compensate for bad weather in Wales.

Mr Williams returned to help out at the Ynys-hir RSPB Reserve, near Aberystwyth, after it was been evacuated because of flooding.

And the BBC cameraman had to leave to finish up a story of a peregrine family on a church in Bath where the chicks were about to hatch, said Jim Stevenson, senior ranger at the nature reserve.

The platform at Paxton Pits has recently been completed by Huntingdonshire District Council’s countryside services team.

Birdwatchers know that, if you can see the birds, they can see you, and that’s why the nature reserve has special hides, screens and plantings to get people close to wildlife without disturbing it, a council spokesman said.

“However, there are times when people just want to get a good view of the scenery in general, and that’s when a viewing platform is ideal. It also acts as a boon to small children, who can’t see over the hedges, and people in wheelchairs who view from a sitting position.

“If you have a camera or telescope on a tripod, a platform gives you a good flat base to set up on.”

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Mr Stevenson added: “The viewing platform is already being used quite heavily and we’ve had a lot of positive remarks from visitors.

“The first group to use the finished platform was Castle School in Cambridge. The children have a mixed ability and always love visiting Paxton Pits where the volunteers and staff make them very welcome. They had also advised us on how to make our ramp more wheelchair-friendly.”

The location has been used for filming in the past, particularly with Ray Mears and the BBC Natural History team. The work was carried out by countryside services rangers Matt Johnson and Matt Hall, and the materials were paid for by the Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve and the district council.