A sand martin bird hide, located in the reedbed nature reserve at Watermead Country Park, has been named in honour of a lifelong bird enthusiast.
Keen conservationist Ken Goodrich, who was from Birstall and died in 2020, set up the Leicestershire Garden Watch survey long before the RSPB developed the idea nationally, and captured all the Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society (LROS) records digitally, which now total more than one million.
The bird hide was opened in a ceremony led by senior park ranger, Dale Osborne and attended by Ken’s wife Jean Goodrich, as well as nature specialists from across Leicestershire. Among those attending were representatives from the Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society (LROS) – an organisation for which Ken had previously held several roles and was later made Honorary Vice President.
Watermead Country Park is run by Leicestershire County Council in partnership with Leicester City Council. It has played a fundamental role in creating a haven for wildlife with its wide range of wetland habitats including extensive reedbeds, wet woodland, wildflower meadows, rough grassland, open water and ponds.
Councillor Lee Breckon, Leicestershire County Council lead member for resources, said: “We are delighted to name the sand martin hide after Ken Goodrich, who made such a positive and far-reaching contribution to conservation and who was committed to sharing the joy of nature with people. We hope that future generations will continue to be inspired by his passion for bird watching and encourage everyone to visit the sand martin hide to learn more.”
Sand martins are in the long list of globally threatened or declining species and are affected by factors including loss of suitable nesting banks or feeding sites. Seeking to address some of these issues, Ken Goodrich was the driver and inspiration behind the building of the sand martin wall in 1993, located opposite the hide, with assistance from the Birstall Birdwatching Club, of which he was an early member.
Visitors to Watermead County Park can find out more about sand martins and the work of Ken Goodrich through a series of new information boards, funded by LROS on display inside the hide. People are also being invited to help collect species data during their visit by recording information about any sightings they may have. This will contribute to the growing body of knowledge about sand martins and their interactions with the wall.
The Reedbed nature reserve is open on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 9am-3pm, and on Sundays from 9am-1pm.
To find out more including how to get involved in the sand martin data collection project visit www.leicscountryparks.org.uk/watermead-environment-and-nature/