Bird hide destroyed in blaze rises from ashes after crowdfunding appeal

The Mill Hide at Loch Leven National Nature Reserve in Fife was destroyed following a fire in February 2021. 

New bird hide at Loch Leven National Nature Reserve unveiled following fire Lorne Gill/Neil Mitchell via NatureScot

A bird hide destroyed in a devastating blaze has risen from the ashes following a £30,000 crowdfunding appeal.

The Mill Hide at Loch Leven National Nature Reserve in Fife was damaged beyond repair following the fire in February last year. 

A crowdfunding appeal to rebuild the hide raised almost £30,000 and the remainder was funded by NatureScot, which manages much of the National Nature Reserve. 

On Friday, NatureScot chair Mike Cantlay and reserve manager Neil Mitchell were joined by Kinross Beavers as well as representatives from the local community and businesses to officially open the new bird hide.

Mill Hide in the Loch Leven National Nature Reserve was destoyed by a fire in February 2021.NatureScot

The new building, which has been named Phoenix Hide, has been designed with a more open back to discourage anti-social behaviour and includes a new camera to better record incidents.

Mr Cantlay said: “To see the new Phoenix Hide rise from the ashes has been wonderful, and it just would not have been possible without the incredible efforts of the local community, businesses and the wider public. Today we want to thank each and every one for making this day possible.

“The level of support has been truly heart-warming and demonstrates the importance of this special place for nature for the local community and beyond.

“As Scotland’s nature agency, our aim is to inspire many more people to value our natural world and I know that this beautiful new hide will play a vital role in doing that for generations to come.”

Mill Hide in the Loch Leven National Nature Reserve. NatureScot

Mr Mitchell, who oversaw the hide rebuild, said: “When the Mill Hide was destroyed last year we were all absolutely devastated. After the fire, what really came through was what a much-loved place it was for people near and far to come and connect with nature.

“We were determined to do all that we could to rebuild the hide and can’t express how grateful we are to the local community, businesses and visitors who contributed so generously to making it happen.

“The new building looks wonderful and I’m sure staff and locals alike are all looking forward to having this special place back again. If you’re visiting in the next few months, you can look out for lots of fluffy young ducklings snacking on the rich insect and plant life of the loch, mute swans raising their cygnets, while herons, kingfishers and osprey can all be seen fishing too.” 

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