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News - 2015 archive

Latest News and Press Releases from Paxton Pits Nature Reserve - most recent at the top
December 2015
Welcome back! (article by Ray Matthews taken from Kingfisher 45) 
It’s with much pleasure and anticipation that we welcome Aggregate Industries’ re-opening of the quarry at Paxton Pits. The company’s decision was announced by Estates Manager Graeme King at the official opening of the Hayden Hide in October, marking the end of a 5½ year period in which the quarry has been ‘mothballed’.
So why should The Friends get excited about the return of diggers, conveyors, processing plant and lorries rumbling up and down to the quarry? Put simply, the re-opening should herald realisation of the first phase of the plan to extend Paxton Pits Nature Reserve from its existing 192 acres to over 700 acres - details here.
June 2015
Phoenix at Paxton Pits
(article by Ray Matthews taken from Kingfisher 44)
Like the mythical bird, the Hayden Hide has risen from the ashes. Just eight months after the much loved wooden structure was burnt to the ground in an arson attack, a gleaming new metal hide has filled the void – and to judge by the many compliments received from visitors, it is more comfortable and affords better views than its predecessor.
State of the art hides, particularly vandal proof models (hopefully), do not come cheap, either in terms of cost or effort. The final cost will be about £23,000, with just over half of this being funded by The Friends. We are enormously indebted to Huntingdonshire District Council for funding the remainder in what everyone appreciates are very difficult times for local authorities. The Council’s support is surely a measure of just how much Paxton Pits Nature Reserve is valued across the community.
The effort has come from The Friends and HDC working in close partnership. David Cobham, leading for The Friends, and Senior Ranger Jim Stevenson, researched and costed the various alternatives for replacing the hide. After much debate, The Friends Trustees and the Rangers settled on a customised metal container with a variety of viewing windows, benches and arm rests to suit all sizes. But the picture window is undoubtedly the ‘big hit’.
Yet again, volunteers and Rangers worked seamlessly together, and with our three contractors, to get the best result. A welcome addition has been a screening hedge planted by the children of the Wildlife Trust Watch group from the Environmental Education Centre. Just a few finishing touches are yet to be completed, including putting back the refurbished dedication plaque which was all that survived the fire.
The ‘bottom line’ to this story is that the Reserve’s supporters have stood up to the mindless actions of the few. Our valued hide has been promptly replaced with something better, showing to all that we care about Paxton Pits Nature Reserve for its wildlife and for the opportunity it gives us to enjoy it. The Friends, empowered by its membership, is proud to have played a key role in this. Thank you for your support.
May 2015
Paxton Pits Nature Reserve Wins Trip Advisor Award

All volunteers at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve are very proud that the Reserve has been given a 2015 Excellence Award by Trip Advisor.  This award is given to establishments that consistently achieve great reviews on the Trip Advisor web site. PPNR is the number one visitor attraction in the St.Neots area.
The Chairman of the Friends Of Paxton Pits, Mike Thomas, said he was delighted to hear of the award and it was recognition for the team of Volunteers who welcome visitors in the Visitors' Centre and work on the Reserve led by the small team of Rangers.  Senior Ranger, Jim Stevenson, acknowledged that each month volunteers put in approximately 150 man days of work on the Reserve.
Picture: A visitor being greeted in the Visitors' Centre by Volunteers, image by Ray Matthews
April 2015
Nightingales are at Paxton Pits

Senior Ranger, Jim Stevenson lead his Spring Tick & Twitch Walk on Sunday (26th April) as part of the  Annual Migration Watch Day at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve.   During the day over 75 different species of birds were spotted, fifty of these on the Tick & Twitch Walk.  Among those spotted were of course Nightingales but also some less common visitors to the Pits including Ring Ouzel, Marsh Harriers and Hobby.
Nightingales are well known for their singing and Paxton Pits Nature Reserve is a really good place to come and see and hear them.  In England Nightingales are rarely seen much further north than Paxton Pits where each year usually more than twenty mating males make their nests.
Early May is an excellent time to see and hear our visiting Nightingales and on Tuesday and Thursday (5th & 7th May) there will be volunteer led walk walks from the Paxton Pits Visitors' Centre at 7.30pm each evening, each walk costs £2.50 just turn up and pay on the night. Refreshments can be purchased in the Visitors' Centre after each walk.
On Sunday 10th May at 5.30am why not join a guided walk to enjoy the dawn chorus of Paxton Pits Birds?  After the walk you can enjoy a light breakfast in the Visitors' Centre.  The cost for the walk and breakfast is £4 and must be booked (01480 406795) or you can just join up for the walk and pay £2.50.
Pictures - on the Tick and Twitch Walk (Peter Hagger); Nightingale (Kevin Loader)

April 2015
Nature Reserve Welcomes New Family
For the second year running a wild Mallard duck has hatched a family in a Little Paxton garden and, with a little help from her friends, led the brood through village streets to the safety of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve.
Nesting high up in an ivy-covered Hawthorn tree, the Mallard produced 10 ducklings which then gathered with mum on the garden pond.  Householder and Friends of Paxton Pits Trustee Ray Matthews takes up the story...
“Last year she produced 9 ducklings and immediately made her way to Hayling Lake on the nature reserve.  It was exactly the same this year, only one week earlier.  Traffic and perceived threats from pets along the way needed to be negotiated, but it helped that she had a couple of human ‘guardians’ looking out for her and the brood.
The biggest obstacle this year was getting through our garden fence.  The goodwill and cooperation of our neighbours came to the rescue, allowing us to plan ahead and cut temporary ‘duck doors’ to speed her on her way.
So this particular female has added at least 19 ducklings to Paxton Pits’ wildlife, much to the pleasure of the volunteers and Rangers who put so much effort in to creating a safe haven.”
April 2015
Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve Celebrate Twenty Years (2)
The Friends of Paxton Pits celebrated their twentieth anniversary on Sunday 12th April with an Open Day at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve and had over 600 visitors.  There were displays for the visitors to look at and children's activities provided by the Wildlife Trust.  There was also a number of guided walks around the Reserve and visitors were able to enjoy free tea and cake.
A large birthday cake was cut by Ray Matthews and Trevor Gunton who were involved in the launching of the Friends twenty years ago and are still active Committee Members today.
The Reserve has a very busy period of activities over the next few weeks.  On Sunday 26th April at 10am Senior Ranger, Jim Stevenson will lead his Spring Tick & Twitch Walk.  The walk is free but walkers are asked to donate 10p for every species spotted.  Also on 26th April is the Annual Migration Watch Day when an attempt is made to record the Reserves bird population with a Dawn to Dusk watch at key points throughout the Reserve.  There will also be additional guided walks at 10.30am and  2.00pm at £2.50 per walker.
There is so much to see at Paxton Pits this time of the year with the first Nightingales arriving on 7th April and in early May there will be special Nightingale walks available.

Trevor (left) & Ray with a map of the Nature Reserve 
April 2015
Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve Celebrate Twenty Years (1)
It is now twenty years since a small band of volunteers decided to launch a Friends group to support Paxton Pits Nature Reserve. From those small beginnings back in 1995 we now have The Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve, the largest independent Friends Group associated with a single nature reserve in England and having over 2,550 members. Two of those early volunteers are still active on the Friends Committee - Trevor Gunton and Ray Matthews.
To celebrate their anniversary The Friends are hosting an Open Day at the Reserve on Sunday 12th April from 11am to 4pm. There will be free tea and cake for all visitors and a range of displays. Visitors will also get the opportunity to meet the Volunteers and Rangers. Guided walks around the reserve will be offered at 11.15am, 1.30 and 3.30pm.
In the Environmental Education Centre the Wildlife Trust will be providing a range of children's activities.
At 1pm Trevor and Ray will be cutting a celebratory birthday cake. Trevor, who has special responsibilities for recruiting members, said he was delighted The Friends now had more members than ever and looks forward to it continuing to grow so even more support can be given to the Reserve.
March 2015
Friends of Paxton Pits AGM

Over 120 people crowded into Little Paxton Village Hall for the Annual Meeting of The Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve. The officers led by the Chairman, Mike Thomas, were able to report another successful year for The Friends. A large number of events had been organised many linked to the 25th Anniversary of the Reserve. Financially The Friends had a record year with income at over £80,000.

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March 2015
New Hide Rises from the Ashes

Last July, people who regularly used Paxton Pits were upset to see that the well used Hayden Hide had been destroyed by a fire.
But now due to joint funding by Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) and The Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve a new and much improved hide is in place.  The new hide was delivered by lorry and crane to site only last Friday (6th March) and opened for use by the public this coming weekend.

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February 2015
New Home for Birds

The Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve has helped the residents of Paxton Hall Residential Care Home celebrate the British Trust for Ornithology’s National Nest Box Week 2015 by donating and installing a new home for hole nesting birds, in full view of the residents’ conservatory. 

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January 2015
Volunteering at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve

The Reserve is managed by Huntingdonshire District Council’s Rangers, who work in close partnership with “The Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve” charity. We could not achieve what we do without the 100+ individuals that make up our fantastic volunteer force. There are a diverse range of roles on offer; some volunteers are out in all weathers partaking in practical work, others carry out wildlife surveys, complete site patrols and lots more.

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Friends for 20 Years

Hard on the heels of the Reserve’s 25th anniversary, 2015 marks the first 20 years of The Friends.
The band of volunteers, which had led the community effort in support of Huntingdonshire District Council’s (HDC) creation of the Reserve in 1989, grew substantially during the first 5 years after the opening. The volunteers focussed on events, planning, practical conservation and staffing the Visitors’ Centre.

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