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Nature / Bird hide aims to give wildlife enthusiasts better experience at Spiggie Loch

The existing store at the Loch of Spiggie. Photo © Google 2021

A PURPOSE-built bird hide could be coming to the Loch of Spiggie to allow people to view the local wildlife in sheltered surroundings.

The RSPB is keen to replace its existing boat store at the edge of the loch, which is a designated nature reserve and an important area for wildfowl.

It is one of Shetland’s most important lochs for whooper swans, while the area also plays host to species like lapwing, tufted duck and redshanks.

In a statement to the council’s planning department, the charity said: “This fully accessible hide on the reserve will offer visitors shelter from the elements and an opportunity for existing and new audiences to engage with the reserve and the RSPB’s conservation work, enjoying close views of wintering wildfowl, deepening their connection with nature.”

The existing boat shed has been in place since the early 1980s, but it is now in “significant disrepair” and needing replaced.

The hide will also act as a store.

The RPSB also proposes to resurface the parking area at the building.

In a move to try to create habitat for wildlife, the charity also plans to install two floating ‘tern rafts’, measuring three metres by three metres in size, on the loch.

The RSPB said climate change and overfishing has led to significant declines in tern populations over the last six decades.

As summer visitors, terns are only in Scotland for the breeding season, and they need a safe place to go about their business.

The RPSB is leading a partnership called Terning the Tide, which aims to work with local communities, land owners and school groups to protect, create and enhance tern breeding sites in Scotland.

Tern ‘rafts’ should provide suitable breeding sites located away from potential sources of disturbance and predators, and one of the key locations mooted in the project is the Loch of Spiggie.

The main frame of the raft would be constructed from galvanised steel, with floats fixed underneath, and it would be filled with gravel.