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LWT bid success for second ToE grant

Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment – ToE whom assess, process and award Network Rail’s grants, offered LWT another chance to bid for money and we are delighted to announce that we were successful,  we have been awarded £31,558.00 and in April 2024 we will receive the first 50%.

The entire amount will be invested in creating;

  • New islands from the South spit, aimed at creating habitats for breeding waders and Shelduck
  • Reshaping and raising the old shingle island by 16″ to above summer flash flooding levels
  • Creating a significant shallow water and marsh area mid way along the East shore

North Spit Hide at Lea Farm Lake – Planning Permission Granted

LWT are thrilled to announce their planning application for the new hide at the North spit, has been successful and this now places us in an exciting time to plan the construction elements and plan the build dates, which will most likely be from 1st August 2023.

LWT hide drawing 011122rr

We all know inflation is a factor for everyday items now and we anticipate some, or perhaps many of our cost estimates will now have increased, so if we can take this opportunity to humbly ask that if anyone whom has not already donated towards what will turn out to be an outstanding new hide, then please do so if you can at the GoFundMe page, the link is here

Waitrose Screen at Lea Farm Lake now open

LWT are delighted to announce that the Waitrose Screen at Lea Farm Lake (LFL) is now open, all members can access the screen from the Loddon path via a new gate approximately 250m past Ron’s hide.

The screen offers views previously out of sight from Ron’s and when the Phragmites reed bed is mature, then cut each autumn, we expect fantastic views of many more Snipe, Jack Snipe, Water Rail, Egrets, Teal, Garganey, Kingfisher and lots more

The gate has a combination padlock with the same code as Ron’s hide, but at this location we require the lock to be put back on and scrambled on entrance, but as always members can escort passing non members to show them what the facilities they can use if they join.

Guided Walk Prize Draw

I have finally drawn the 3 names from the 160 people who generously donated, joined or renewed from October to late April when we hit 500 members for the first time.

To add some suspense please click on the link to find out if you were a winner and expect contact from me in the coming days : Draw Video

Thanks to everyone who took part and raised money towards to the new hide.

Landmark membership number achieved

LWT is delighted to announce we just hit 500 memberships for the first time.

This is the first of several milestones Fraser Cottington has set for LWT and this is seen as the beginning of the next era of our charity and one where we are certain we can cover all our overheads as relatively new land owners.

As promised, Fraser will be carrying out a draw and offering three guided walk prizes to lucky winners, the draw and names of the winners will be announced soon.

Our next mission will be to communicate with our entire membership to ask how we can offer;

  • More value
  • New services
  • Grow and retain even more members
  • Grow a sustained income

Planning Application Notice – 220665

LWT received the planning application notice for the new hide and have duly placed that notice on Ron’s hide gate, for all to see and comment if required. Fraser met with a planning officer on site this week and we now await a positive response, for which we have been given an estimate time frame of around late April.

Assuming we get that positive response, LWT then has a lot of work to do investigating which materials have the longest lead times, so we can commence building at the beginning of August as hoped.

For those involved in the timber/carpentry industry, do can get in touch if you believe you can help us source our materials in a time and cost efficient manner.

LWT receive a £1,000 ‘Give a Little Love’ donation from Waitrose Woodley

LWT is delighted to announce we were selected to receive a donation from Waitrose Woodley as part of their new ‘Give a Little Love’ charity donation scheme. Fraser Cottington went to the Woodley store to meet Jackie and Dawn who run the charity giving scheme at that store and presented him with a cheque on the 1st December.

Fraser Cottington, Dawn & Jackie – Waitrose Woodley

“LWT is incredibly grateful to Waitrose Woodley for this generous donation, we’ll be putting it to good use as soon as the weather allows – the plan is to build a mini bird watching hut in a quiet marshy corner of Lea Farm Lake, which, as the vegetation matures will offer outstanding views of Kingfishers and Egrets all year and Water Rail, Snipe and hopefully Bittern in the winter”.

“The timing of this donation couldn’t be better, we carried out major habitat improvement and expansion work in 2020, this donation will enable us able to add yet another facility to view and enjoy the wildlife, we hope to get it built before the 2020 breeding season”.

Everyone is able to become a member of LWT and start enjoying the birds immediately click here to join

Appeal for volunteers for weekdays

Dear all our members, things are going amazingly well on site and in the background, it’s literally never been a more exciting time for LWT and our members.

Most of you already know LWT volunteer needs have greatly increased – both on and off the nature reserve. To rise to these needs we now need to arrange a weekday work party, once a month to start with, over the winter months.

Right now, we need about 10 people or more to support chainsaw work at Lea Farm Lake and on Lavell’s boundary and the best day for our chainsaw man – Keith is a Monday, or Tuesday, so if you can help, please contact me on, add I’ll add you to our list to help out.

Also before Christmas, we have 400 plants to go in the ground, so we urgently need a team of up to 20 people to help us do that too. It will be a case of bring a fork and spade and we’ll show you what to do.

More work is planned in 2022, I just need to gauge the level of support for week days, but whatever happens we MUST raise the number of work parties each year by 50% or more.

There is plenty of other lighter work we really need to get on top of each year, from staining fences, trimming vegetation, re-hanging nest boxes, serving drinks at our work parties, to manning a table to greet members of the public when we are working near a footpath – helping to grow our membership.

I’ll let you know more about how folks can help me do charity promotional events early in 2022, but if you do have experience, or are just happy chatting and engaging with the public, basically telling our story to grow our membership, then please do contact me

Thanks, Fraser

Chief Visionary Officer

Colour ringed Little Egret originated from Walthamstow

The North Thames Gull Group & Southern Colour Ring Group were delighted to hear about our sighting this week of the Little Egret ringed at Walthamstow 15th May 2019 and have been very kind to provide this link to it’s history : Here

Saying – “Many thanks for sending in your sighting to the North Thames Gull Group and Southern Colour Ringing Group. Great one this is a first sighting of a bird ringed in 2019 at Walthamstow. Proves fledging which is good and shows that many of our birds that just seem to disappear do get off and turn up elsewhere”

It is always fascinating to get colour ring details, so do all keep an eye out and send details to Fraser

An incentive to reach LWT’s goal of 500 memberships

LWT membership levels are at all time highs, around 469 which is fantastic in itself. Many people will be aware Fraser Cottington said he was dedicated to growing membership and with next year’s building of the new North Spit Hide and another announcement we hope to make soon, we think there are lots of reasons to join.

For everyone who makes a donation on the GoFundMe link, or anyone who joins as a new member, or even re-joins if you’ve dropped off for more than 18 months, your name will go into draw. Fraser is offering three prizes in the form of his time as your personal bird guide;

Fraser Cottington has been visiting the Dinton Pastures area since 1981 and very few people can offer his depth of knowledge on where and when to see certain birds, so don’t delay, get your name in the hat and join , or donate to LWT as soon as possible.

1st Prize : A personal guided tour of all of Dinton and Lea Farm Lake for up to 4 hours – This can also be banked and used a dawn chorus walk in April 2022
2nd Prize : A 3 hour guided walk to any young person with up to 3 friends and their families
3rd Prize : A personal guided tour for the last 2 hours of light, to see various evening favourites such as Bittern, Woodcock and hopefully Barn Owl. This has to be used by 1st March 2022
In all cases it can be a family and I will tailor the walk to your desired focus, so if you want to learn more about calls and song, or gulls, wildfowl, or anything else, I can do all those things
GoFundMe link is here

Lea Farm Lake – North Spit Hide formal EA & planning application imminent

It’s taken a while to fund raise enough, to get specifications set out and to get the people arranged to build, but we are pretty much there and are about to go ahead with Environment Agency permission paperwork. One requirement is that the floor level will be above the 1:100 year flood level, which was required for Ron’s, so this week we arranged a surveyor to take the levels off Ron’s and position a marker post on the North Spit.

We cannot say 100% until we commence materials purchasing that we have all the money we need, because of the many shortages and price increases of various elements, timber being one example. But all we can say is we’ll keep everyone informed and add that if you haven’t already donated towards the hide, please do go to our GoFundMe page and give as much as you can afford.

Extra work party 15th August

The end of the bird nesting season is upon us and we have lots to do, so we are having extra work parties for most of the rest of this year. 15th August is about increasing the speed of growth and spread of the Phragmites in the Network Rail created diggings. We need people with spades and wellies to help us transplant the reed roots (Rhizomes) in spade sized big muddy clumps so they carry on growing into late autumn. If you have a wheel barrow you don’t mind getting muddy, bring that too. Meet Lavell’s car park 09:50.

Ron’s hide at Lea Farm Lake re-opening 12th April

Note – Booking of Ron’s hide is no longer required since most Covid restrictions have been lifted.

In line with the Government’s step 2, LWT will be re-opening Ron’s hide on 12th April, from 05:00.

As before access will be via the Visibook application, bookings are only available to LWT members

A full list of rules must be read and can be downloaded here

Use of the hide is limited to 1 household at any one time and a maximum of 4 people

  • Masks must be worn when more than one household is using the hide
  • Hand sanitizer must be brought with you
  • The outer gate MUST be locked upon entry to ensure those who have not booked cannot just walk in

PLEASE NOTE : The padlock access code is emailed to you upon booking


  • Share the padlock code with anyone
  • Stay in the hide beyond your booking slot, WhatsApp Fraser Cottington and he will confirm if you can remain in the hide
  • Allow anyone through the outer gate, if they are booked they will have the code

Appeal for new Treasurer

Our existing Treasurer is looking to step down in the not too distant future, meaning LWT is looking for someone to replace him and help us manage our income and expenditure.

The role is not complex, Phil has set out an excellent set of documents making the job much easier, it just requires a diligent eye and someone comfortable with numbers.

If you can spare 1-2 hours per month and 2 hours for a bi-monthly for our Zoom calls please get in touch.

Night Heron now visiting Sandford frequently

After a gap of 8 days the Night Heron was found at Sandford Lake and stayed in view for nearly 1 and half hours, it was then seen arriving at Sandford again 3 days later (19th) and sat in a tree above the reeds near the hide for several hours in sheltering from the rain, allowing many locals to see this much wanted species.

And last night it was seen yet again flying in around 20.00 and sat near the same reeds close to Sandford hide.

You can see lots of pictures at Berksbirds

You can also see my videos on YouTube

We ask all visitors to please make a donation to LWT and at all times respect the birds welfare and the habitat managed by LWT and Dinton Pastures Countryside Service (DPCS), any behaviour by visitors that threatens the bird will not be tolerated.

First Night Heron in Berkshire for 33 years visits Lea Farm Lake & Dinton Pastures

Early morning 8th August a juvenile Night Heron, also known as Black-crowned Night Heron flew over low over Lea Farm Lake towards Dinton Pastures, but could not be found. Being crepuscular – active at twilight, it was probably heading to an unknown roost.

2 days later a local resident sent Fraser Cottington a picture of a ‘small heron like bird’ in the pond behind their house on the Western fringes of Dinton and the bird is immediately recognizable as a Night Heron, the story emerged that it was photographed by them on the 6th August, so local bird watchers are now frantic to track it down to see this very rare species, having only ever been seen three previous occasions.

The search continues and last night (10th), hopeful locals we treated with a consolation sighting of a Short-eared Owl flying over at dusk, a very uncommon bird indeed and especially now, as all previous sightings are in the winter, the last records being 9th Nov 2014 and prior to that 15th Nov 2005.

GoFundMe fund raising portal launched for new hide at Lea Farm Lake

Fraser Cottington launched a GoFundMe page to help raise money to pay for the new hide we really want to build overlooking the new marsh and reed bed at Lea Farm Lake’s North East bay.

Created 23rd July, generous donations have poured in from members and people wishing to remain anonymous too, as of today the amount raised is £2,015.00 and we hope we can keep spreading our message out to the wider bird watching community and local residents too.

The link to our page is here GoFundMe  please share the link to this page with anyone you know who loves birds and enjoys Dinton Pastures. Please do make a donation.

The aim is to raise £20,000 to add to LWT’s £8,000.00 and as soon as we hit our target we will commence the Environment Agency consent and Wokingham Borough Council planning applications. If everything goes to plan by late July 2021 we will be commencing construction and finished before the winter.

The proposed new hide, is set to be made out a 40ft sea container, like Ron’s will be on stilt legs to provide optimal viewing and ensure it cannot be flooded. A similar example can be found here but ours will be fully contained and locked.

Final count down to Network Rail project commencing

LWT volunteers were out in force Sunday 26th July preparing the Lea Farm Lake site for the diggers, marking out with tall pegs what must stay, what must be avoided and there is more work to be done 9th August after the grass areas behind the existing reed beds has been cut.

Then 17th August the diggers arrive and it’s full on huge excavations and some 2+ weeks later we’ll have a new marsh and the shallows for our single largest reed bed.

I’ll be posting regular updates here, on Twitter and on Facebook as things progress.

GoFundMe fund raising campaign for Lea Farm Lake North Spit Hide

LWT launched a fund raising campaign using GoFundMe platform as a simple, efficient way to raise £20,000 to go towards a new hide overlooking the Network Rail funded Phragmites reed beds and marsh, which commences 17th August.

LWT has around £8,000, but we need at least £20,000 to cover everything else, this campaign is live right now and the sooner we share and encourage all our friends to support their local conservation charity, the sooner we can all be enjoying the birds that will soon be using the habitat we are creating

Please donate today

Ron’s Hide at Lea Farm Lake re-opened

Following the latest government advice we have now re-opened Ron’s hide at Lea Farm, but under a strict booking only basis to members so that we can  limit numbers for social distancing and to manage track and trace.

The maximum people allowed at any one time is 4 people from 2 households

The remaining hides are the responsibility of Dinton Pastures Countryside Service, whom opened these hides and have also requested a limit to occupancy, but as public hides everyone must observe social distancing themselves to remain safe.

Colour ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull news

Another colour ringed gull – Blue ring B=W, was seen 21st June and a Bristol ringer named Peter Rock came back with news of it being ringed at the nest (no exact location but around Bristol) 24th June 2019. So a minimum of 83 miles in a straight line. Getting ring numbers can create another interesting angle to bird watching, for many of us it is fascinating to learn of a birds origins.