New grant-funded discovery trail at BTO’s Thetford reserve to teach visitors about its wildlife

The British Trust for Ornithology has opened a new discovery trail at its Nunnery Lakes reserve in T

The British Trust for Ornithology has opened a new discovery trail at its Nunnery Lakes reserve in Thetford. Pictured (l-r): James Pearce-Higgins, BTO director of science; Emma Douglas, BTO head of fundraising; Bonita Johnston, BTO corporate and trust fundraising; and mayor of Thetford Terry Jermy. - Credit: Archant

Even novice bird-watchers can learn to tell their blackcaps from their marsh tits with the help of a nature reserve's new discovery trail.

The British Trust for Ornithology has opened a new discovery trail at its Nunnery Lakes reserve in T

The British Trust for Ornithology has opened a new discovery trail at its Nunnery Lakes reserve in Thetford. The Kingfisher viewing point on the trail. - Credit: Archant

The project by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is designed to educate residents and visitors about the vast array of wildlife which inhabits its Nunnery Lakes reserve in Thetford.

It was funded by a £12,000 grant from Tesco's Bags of Help campaign. Together with charity Groundwork, the scheme donates money – raised from the 5p plastic bag levy – to environmental projects.

After being voted into first place by shoppers in Thetford, Brandon and Bury St Edmunds, the BTO began the six-month project to craft its new 2km trail.

It follows the Little Ouse River through the nature reserve and is punctuated by viewing points and information boards, with a hide for avid twitchers at its far end.

The British Trust for Ornithology has opened a new discovery trail at its Nunnery Lakes reserve in T

The British Trust for Ornithology has opened a new discovery trail at its Nunnery Lakes reserve in Thetford. Thetford mayor Terry Jermy and BTO staff and volunteers with representatives from charity Groundwork and Tesco, which donated the money for the project. - Credit: Archant


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The trail contains two routes – one circular and one linear – which are designed to be suitable for families. To this end, wildlife checklists will be available from the BTO reception for children (or adults) to fill in as they venture round.

James Pearce-Higgins, director of science at the BTO, said: 'We are aware that many people know about the BTO, but do not necessarily know about the work we do or appreciate all the wonderful things which are in the reserve.

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'This trail is a great opportunity for us to help the public understand what is going on in the countryside around them.

'Hopefully it will encourage more people to come here and see what we have.'

Thetford's mayor Terry Jermy was invited to cut the ribbon for the discovery trail.

He said: 'I like to remind others and myself how lucky we are to have this space on our doorstep and the wildlife we have.

'This trail is an opportunity to remind people of that. We need the guidance and advice it can offer and I am so grateful that the BTO are here and sharing their knowledge with us.'

The BTO moved its base from Hertfordshire to Thetford in 1991.

The charity has 60,000 volunteers across the country as well as 150 staff, most of whom work at its Nunnery Lakes reserve.

To find out more about the discovery trail or download a map, go to www.bto.org/reserve

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