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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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West Cumbrian nature reserve recovering one year after devastating fire

A nature reserve which was ravaged by fire a year ago today is well on the road to recovery.

Siddick Ponds was devastated by arsonists when they deliberately torched the site and for the past year a dedicated team of staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly in an effort to revive the popular site.

Endangered species were killed as the fire spread through their habitats and many others fled the scene.

But the wildlife and rare birds are now returning to Siddick and those responsible for the reserve are positive about its future.

Raegan McKay, the new Workington Nature Partnership officer, said: “We will be carrying out much more survey work at Siddick Ponds to monitor which species of birds are returning to nest but we are all really encouraged by the early presence of bitterns, which we feared could have been lost to the site as a result of the fire.”

Over the past year trees have been planted, new bird and owl boxes erected and an otter holt constructed and now in use.

Reed beds which were damaged by flames have grown back and rare and endangered birds including three bitterns have so far returned for the current nesting season.

New fencing has also been put up in key areas to provide added protection to the wildlife and their habitat – predominantly from disturbance by dogs.

Allerdale council, which owns the reserve, has worked alongside partners Natural England, volunteer groups and the Friends of Siddick Ponds Nature Reserve to rebuild the fire-damaged site and encourage wildlife back to the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Efforts at the site have been aided by the new Workington Nature Partnership, formed late last year by Allerdale and Workington town council.

Ms McKay added: “The support of volunteers at Siddick Ponds has been invaluable with them carrying out jobs such as scrub clearing and the cutting down of reed beds.

“However, more volunteers are always welcome and if anyone is interested in helping out, please get in touch with me by calling 01900 702702.”

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