Paxton Pits bird hide replacement hit by coronavirus rules

Money has been raised for the new hide at Paxton Pits.

Money has been raised for the new hide at Paxton Pits. - Credit: Archant

Volunteers from a nature reserve’s friends’ group are desperate to get on site to rebuild a bird watching hide destroyed in a fire after funds were raised for a replacement.

But the coronavirus restrictions - which restrict gatherings - have hit the Friends of Paxton Pits who want to get on with the job of building a replacement Kingfisher hide at the St Neots nature reserve.

The original hide was burnt down on April 24 and a discarded barbecue is believed to have sparked the blaze, prompting fundraising campaigns which have now raised enough money for a replacement building.

Friends’ chairman Mike Thomas thanked donors for their support.

Brothers Alfie, 7, and Harry Saunders, 3, who live near the reserve, raised £1,125 by climbing the stairs at their home thousands of times to mark the number of kingfishers left, having set a £1,000 target.

Their challenge represented the 4,800 breeding pairs left in the UK which the hide is named after.

The brothers have been regular visitors to the reserve for exercise during the lockdown.

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Niki Evans’ son Caleb, 4, who is also a regular at the reserve, set out to raise £200 by running 100 lengths of his garden, but brought in nearly £500.

The friends’ group has also raised just over £3,000 towards the £5,000 cost of the project.

Mr Thomas praised the boys’ efforts, saying: “It has been incredible. We would like to invite them along when it has been done.

“It will only take about six days’ work from the volunteers. The lockdown is the issue, we need to know when we can get people in to do the work.”

He said the fundraising had taken them close to the target.

Mr Thomas said the hide had been constructed in such a way that a new building of a standard design could be attached to the existing base.

The Kingfisher hide had been built around three years ago. Firefighters were unable to save the building but prevented damage to the boardwalk.

Paths at the reserve remain open but the visitor centre and toilets are closed and events and working parties have been cancelled.