Work on the 360 Project has started.
Soon, tenders will go out to potential contractors to start building the new boardwalk and 360° Observatory. Two new posts that are part of the project will also be advertised: a Conservation Officer and a Learning Officer. We have one objective with this project - to make Cors Dyfi reserve and the new 360° Observatory one of the most exciting and inspiring places in the UK to come to experience and learn about wildlife and the natural history around us.
A room with a view - taking wildlife watching to a higher level (Click to see bigger image)
With a new team of staff complementing the current Dyfi Osprey team, visitors will receive the Rolls-Royce standard of wildlife experience. We aim to make this the gold standard, a premium service. The pointy end of the aeroplane.
Gone are the days of reading poorly designed, moss and rust covered interpretation panels in the rain. We will engage with visitors in a new and modern way, befitting the richness we see around us. Cutting edge technology using iPads, sound systems, HD cameras, stunning military grade observation binoculars and new technologies that haven't even come to the market yet. Continuing on from the Dyfi Osprey Project model, we will also use the best format of visitor interpretation yet invented - actually talking to another human being. There will be experts on hand in key areas to explain what you can see, hear and feel around you, and we will be hosting workshops in the 360° Observatory on all manner of subjects. Botany, bird ringing, wildlife art, moths, geology, bird calls, invertebrate identification, otter and nightjar events, dragonfly days, wildlife photography. The list is almost endless!
Getting the perfect shot - explained
Thank you to everybody that commented after the first 360° Observatory blog. Three main questions were raised in the comments section, Facebook and Twitter. Here they are explained:
1. Disabled Access
Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust want everybody to benefit from this project. We have based 'inclusiveness' as a key objective at every stage of the design and planning process.
- New toilets will be disabled friendly
- New boardwalk will be wider than standard boardwalk widths to allow two wheelchairs to pass
- For people that find it difficult to walk far, we will have a wheelchair lease system. The boardwalk will be 500m in length from the visitor centre to the 360° Observatory. There will also be someone available, if required, to assist in travelling between both areas at all times
- More and better disabled parking bays in the car park - right next to the visitor centre, just a few feet away
- The 360° Observatory will be built over 2m (around 8 feet) above ground level. We will ramp the boardwalk up to the 360° Observatory at a gradient of 1:20, reaching and exceeding DDA (Disability Discrimination Act 1995) recommendations. Furthermore, the approach to the 360° Observatory will be staged with level 'landing' areas
- For people that use a wheelchair but can walk a little, the stairway to the top level of the 360° Observatory will be staged (rather than a spiral staircase for example) with rest points
- All the viewing windows at all levels will be low enough for wheelchair users to see through comfortably
2. Are we too close to the ospreys?
In a word, no. Each bird species has a 'circle of confidence' which is different for each species (think of robins and magpies and how close you can get to each of these). Additionally, individual birds of the same species have varying degrees of confidence depending on their life experiences and where they hatched. Ospreys in some parts of America will practically nest just outside your kitchen window!
"These humans are strange animals aren't they.." (Hellgate nest, Missoula, Montana)
We know how much 'disturbance' Monty and Nora will tolerate. After all, they do nest just 55m away from a main railway line..
Click 720 or 1080 for HD resolution
The 360° Observatory will be built over 200m away from the nest (kind of behind Monty in the first clip of the video). The main Dyfi Junction station platform is more or less the same distance away from the nest as the 360° Observatory will be, with people moving around and making noises. The ospreys are used to this. Moreover, the ospreys will only see one side of the 360° Observatory, the gable end side (right hand side of the first image above). The part of the 360° Observatory that is external has been designed to be the other side, blind side of the nest, so that the ospreys will not see anyone moving around other than through windows.
We have one year to build the 360° Observatory and we'll do our very best to finish it before the ospreys return in 2013. If we can't however, we will not risk building while the birds are here.
We designed the Dyfi Osprey Project from the ground up with the community at it's heart. Volunteers play a fundamental role in every aspect of it's operation, whether that be the everyday running of the project, or one off events like The Big Pull.
The 360 Project will be absolutely no different.
106 volunteers helped with The Big Pull on March 1st, Tim and John Parry start us going..
The 360° Observatory will enable visitors to experience the most amazing views of the ospreys and the other wildlife on the reserve and Dyfi River. We will need more volunteers to help us explain, translate and interpret what's happening around us. If you fancy joining us as a volunteer, look out for more details in the new year.
Over 8,000 hours were donated by over 100 volunteers at the Dyfi Osprey Project in 2012, the most yet. Purely in financial terms, that's the equivalent to over £100,000 on an average wage basis. Incredible.
360° Observatory - amazing views of amazing wildlife linked together by amazing volunteers (Click for larger image)
There is a lot of hard work in front of us and no doubt the odd hurdle or two. I will keep the updates coming throughout the winter so that by next March, we'll all know where we're up to. Again, if you have any questions, please ask them below or on Facebook/Twitter, and I'll answer them in the next update in a few weeks.
Onwards and upwards. Literally.
"Hey, Blodwen, we won't be able to hide on Cors Dyfi from now on innit.."