October 21st, 2016

String of vandal attacks sees Leamington bird hide removed

A BIRD hide at a Leamington nature reserve is being removed after the latest in a string of attacks by vandals.

The hide, at Leam Valley Nature Reserve, was put up in memory of dedicated volunteer Jack Watkins who was warden at the popular nature reserve for many years.

But the hide, overlooking the wetland, has been a constant target for graffiti and arson in recent years and Warwick District Council can no longer afford the cost of repairs.

Warwick District Council neighbourhood services spokesman said: “With great regret the Leam Valley wetland bird hide is being permanently removed.

“Warwick District Council can no longer fund the continual repair cost, caused by wanton destruction and misuse over a number of years.

“The hide was provided by a grant as part of the wetland creation scheme, and dedicated to the warden who sadly died after many years of volunteering on the reserve.”

To keep the memory of Jack alive, Warwick District Council will erect a new, simpler wildlife watching screen with a plaque dedicated to him.

Annie Talbot, senior conservation specialist for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, said: “Whilst we are saddened at the continued vandalism of the bird hide, we will be replacing it with a screen that will enable the many visitors of this beautiful and popular semi urban nature reserve to continue enjoying the birds and wildlife that thrive here.

“The site remains a lasting testament to the commitment of Jack Watkins and his passion for the natural world.”

Leam Valley is part of Newbold Comyn and has many habitats including woodland, grassland, marsh, ponds and the River Leam itself.

The reserve is owned by the district council and managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. Trust staff work with the council to look after the reserve with help from volunteers, who cut the grassland, make sure the trees are healthy and control invasive plants.