Yesterday I made a visit to Radipole while my wife and daughter went into town. Whilst there, I came across the recent work that had been done on the reserve for the benefit of visitors. The reserve information centre had been refurbished and I was interested to see the improvements.
Sadly, the information centre was very underwhelming and didn't impress me one bit. It could be that it isn't fully finished, so I don't want to be too harsh. The first thing you notice is that it now offers refreshments and is no longer a shop. This has been laid out well, in the limited space offered by the building. The visual side of things to offer information on the Weymouth reserves could be improved immensely though, in my mind. A huge picture board, only showing a photo of a Kingfisher, is a waste and could, and should, show photos of the reserves other stars as well. I just think the space available could be better utilised from an information stand point. After all, it's suppose to stimulate interest and encourage people to go out and explore the reserve, having been stimulated by what they've seen in the centre.
Out on the reserve itself, there have been a few boardwalk constructions. Let's start with the one that is down the path from the concrete bridge on the way to the shelter, on the Buddleia Loop. I feel this offers nothing to the visitor and the money could have been better spent elsewhere. Carrying on around the Buddleia Loop, we come across a boardwalk proper. This is ace and I really can see this being popular with visitors. Without being too encroaching upon the habitat, it seems to carry you out into the world of the reedbed. Walking back to the centre, we come across a raised boardwalk which offers an elevated view over the reedbed. What a great shame! It's brilliantly constructed, but it offers nothing when it comes to views and in my view is in the wrong place. As a birder, if a reserve offers the best views of the reserve in order to help locate birds and other wildlife, then surely this also enhances the visits had by schools and novices in order to spark that interest. the raised platform would have been better placed overlooking the back of Teal Bay. This is the bay you see from the centre.
Whilst I fully realise the reserve is there to cater for the unconverted, if you make it birder friendly, you're already on the way to helping convert those very people.