Manx Wildlife Trust (MWT) has opened its first members-only nature reserve at Ballachrink in Braddan.
MWT Ballachrink Nature Reserve features two lakes, three open meadows and a mixed broadleaved wood, the 11-hectare reserve forms part of the 25-hectare Renscault and Ballachrink Bird Sanctuary.
Although MWT originally acquired the site in 2011 it had previously been closed to visitors.
MWT volunteers, the ‘Midweek Muckers’, have been working hard with reserves manager, Tricia Sayle, to make the reserve more accessible.
Works have included path improvement, waymarking, a new bird hide by the largest lake and screening to reduce bird disturbance.
There are also some new information panels in the hide itself.
Leigh Morris, MWT chief executive said: ‘It’s brilliant to see MWT Ballachrink Nature Reserve opening to our members as a special place they can engage with Manx nature.
‘The first time I visited the reserve almost four years ago I was amazed at what a wonderful place it is, and I’m delighted that more people can now experience it.
‘The MWT nature reserves that are open to all the public will always remain so, but we are now considering how our MWT members (and volunteers and supporters) can access the other nature reserves we own, but that are currently closed to all. Ballachrink is a test case for us, both in terms of member interest and the impact on nature.
‘I personally hope we can open more of our reserves to members in future, but we need time to assess fully how this works at Ballachrink.’
The two lakes and two overflow ponds in the Ballachrink reserve were created by the previous owners to provide nesting habitat and flight ponds for winter migrating wildfowl.
They are surrounded by a mix of largely planted broadleaved and coniferous trees and many planted shrubs.
The site also includes three open meadows on the west side which are sheep grazed.
It’s a been described as a great place to see Teal, Tufted Duck, Grey Heron, Treecreeper and Goldcrest.
Members and volunteers of MWT will now be able to visit Ballachrink by permissive access during daylight hours all year round.
Membership of MWT can be obtained from as little as £30 a year from mwt.im where a full list of publicly accessible nature reserves can also be found.