Willow Tree Fen has been closed since January 2021 due to the presence of common cranes and work started this week (30 November) to create new visitor facilities to allow the public to utilise the site from Spring 2022.
The work will involve removing the central track, allowing water to move across the site better, thus improving it for the cranes and other wildlife. The spoil from the track will be used to raise the car park to the level of the adjacent bridge, creating a raised area for the public that overlooks the whole reserve.
Eventually, the car park and Counter Drain bank will provide a walk with viewpoints looking over the site, allowing people to safely enjoy the reserve and the birds, away from the road. New scrapes and pools close to this new viewing area will be created, drawing in wildlife to enhance the spectacle for visitors.
This means that the circular routes at Willow Tree Fen will not reopen. The Trust is very aware of the implications for our visitors and this is not a decision that has been taken lightly. However, the Trust have a clear duty to do what we can to maximise the chances of success for the cranes. We have consulted widely over the best course of action including from the UK Crane Working Group, the RSPB and a noted UK expert with years of experience in working with breeding cranes.