RSPB Bird Hide, Udale Bay Reserve

Replacing an end of life hide with a larger structure that feaured an interpretation space and full access for wheelchair users.

The RSPB's Udale Bay Reserve is a peaceful, intertidal bay on the Cromarty Firth which is home to thousands of waders, ducks and geese. With our experience of working in protected natural habitats, Bell Ingram Design was engaged to replace an end of life hide on the site with a new, larger structure that would include an interpretation space along with full access for wheelchair users. 

The design approach was for an all timber structure with larch cladding which was left untreated allowing it weather naturally to a silvery finish. The building was set on stilts to minimise its impact on the immediate surrounding ground, which in turn allowed the retention of adjacent trees and shrubs.

Careful consideration was given to the ergonomics of the seated viewing windows so that all of these could be used by both wheelchair and non wheelchair users avoiding the typical approach where only a single dedicated wheelchair viewing window is provided. A large floor-to-ceiling viewing window was incorporated providing a panoramic view over the bay, another wall included child height windows allowing up close viewing of the bird life in the trees and shrubs next to the building. Dedicated space was also provided for an artwork by a local artist which fills the hide with colour depicting the changing seasons along with the range of seasonal birds that visit the Reserve.

The building has proved to be very successful, we were very pleased to read the following entry in the Visitors' Book from RSPB members visiting from England shortly after the building’s opening: "What a fantastic hide, we have never seen such an excellent hide catering for all ages, well done!"

With feedback like that, we consider that 'Job done'!

Murray Fleming

Tel: 01463 717 799

Article posted on 03/08/2020

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