Work has begun on constructing a welcome area at the new Point of Ayre national nature reserve.

Some 106 acres of barren gravel pits at the Point of Ayre are being transformed into a wildlife haven by Manx BirdLife.

When complete, the new welcome area will act as a focal point for visitors meeting on the reserve and will provide a seating area as well as interpretation about the wildlife that can be seen there.

With the reserve opening to the public later this year, it is just one of several areas of work that the charity will be completing on the reserve in 2024.

It is hoped that a further 120 acres will become part of the national nature reserve after Island Aggregates completes quarrying operations on their present site.

And in the longer term, a third area could be included when quarrying ends altogether, bringing the total to potentially more than 450 acres.

So far guided walks have been taking place by invite only, and have proved very popular.

Further down the line there are plans for an education centre and visitor centre, the aim ultimately to create a centre of excellence for nature conservation, environmental education and citizen science.

The reserve boasts a mixed habitat of freshwater, marsh and coastal heathland, as well as scrubland that attracts warblers and other migrant birds. It’s an important site for migrating and wintering birds with 178 species recorded here.

Manx BirdLife has an initial 49-year lease with Island Aggregates. Work to restore the quarry back to nature was delayed by Covid but got into full swing in 2022.

An impressively large hide has been built together with a viewing point at the far end of the large lake.