TWO new bird hides have been installed at the Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve near Witherslack.

They give visitors a vantage point from where they can see an array of woodland birds along with the reserve's two breeding ospreys.

One of the new hides is trained on the osprey nest where Cumbria Wildlife Trust (CWT) expects the birds of prey to return to breed in late March or early April.

The other overlooks a new bird feeding station, which is attracting a wide range of woodland birds.

Reserves officer Paul Waterhouse said: “The new feeder has been incredibly popular and among the interesting birds we’ve seen recently is the scarce tree sparrow with its chestnut-brown crown, a much shier bird than that of its cousin, the house sparrow. "As well as the attractive green and yellow siskin, we’ve also seen brambling, goldfinch and redpoll. The covered wooden screen is like a mini hide, so visitors can sit and watch the birds in comfort, while not disturbing them.”

Along with the two new covered birdwatching areas, visitors can also enjoy new benches and picnic tables which have been installed around the 350-hectare nature reserve.

“We are very grateful to an individual donor and to Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund for their grant of over £17,000," said Mr Waterhouse. "Their funding has helped us make the visitor experience here at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve even better.

"Most of the Tarmac grant has been used to clear 15 hectares of invasive plant species, such as rhododendron and western hemlock, allowing us to ensure that this precious peat bog can thrive and stay such a wonderful habitat for Cumbrian wildlife.”

As part of the Tarmac Limited Landfill Communities Fund grant, CWT is also producing backpacks for children, so that young visitors can get the most out of coming to the nature reserve. They will include binoculars and spotter sheets and will be available to hire at the nature reserve from the start of the osprey season.