A new project hopes to save endangered birds at a Cotswold Water Park nature reserve.

Whelford Pools is the home to birds such as teal, pochard, gadwall, shoveler, willow warbler, marsh tit and mistle thrush, however all are on the red or amber lists of birds of conservation concern.

The red list highlights species at risk of extinction and in urgent need of action, while the amber list is the next most critical group.

For many years Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust have managed the reserve for wildlife but have struggled to tackle bigger jobs that required extra resources.

Thanks to a generous £20,000 donation from Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund, as well as donations from the Charles Irving Charitable Trust and other foundations, a £25,000 project is underway to improve the nature reserve not just for the birds, but for visitors too.

The Better for Birds at Whelford Pools project team of staff and volunteers have been carrying out several large practical tasks, including improvements to the woodland, reedbed and grassland areas of the reserve.

The reed bed will be cut back to encourage regrowth, creating more habitat for those species which nest and forage there, including reed bunting and starlings.

More grassy areas have been kept open and scrubby bushes have been cut back to create soft habitat edges, enabling berry-bearing plants to flourish.

This will add to food resources for birds, create a mixture of long and tall grasses for bird nesting and providing better habitat for invertebrates.

The woodland edge has been tamed to allow sunshine onto the water and prevent too much leaf litter from landing in it.

The wet woodlands have been coppiced to increase the amount of deadwood; creating ideal habitats for insects and improving food resources for warblers, martins and swallows, as well as the four species of bat recorded on the reserve.

Visitor facilities were in a poor condition; the main bird hide was very old and in need of regular maintenance, whilst the only other bird hide on the nature reserve, despite having an accessibility path to it, offered seated access to the viewing areas which restricted its use by wheelchair users.

Now, a brand new accessible hide has been installed, with a special low viewing area for visitors with limited mobility and pushchairs.

Tim Bevan, senior reserves manager south at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust said: “This project has not only helped us to improve the habitat management at Whelford Pools for many species of bird, but the new hide will be a terrific and accessible place for visitors to enjoy the sights arising from these improvements.

"A big thank you to our funders.”

The hope is that not only will this project give declining birds a helping hand, but that it will also encourage more visitors to experience the wonders of the nature reserve, and the wildlife that calls it home.