Wildlife ignores social distancing – so Minsmere must remain closed

Minsmere is set to stay shut to protect the wildlife. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Minsmere is set to stay shut to protect the wildlife. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Restrictions on taking exercise may be easing – but the RSPB’s Minsmere is unlikely to welcome visitors for some time, because the birds and the bees haven’t got their heads around social distancing!

There are some public rights of way at Sutton Hoo. Picture; PAUL GEATER

There are some public rights of way at Sutton Hoo. Picture; PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

After two months of no people being around, wildlife has stopped worrying about keeping away from the paths in the reserve – and at the height of the breeding season, some rare species have nests too near public areas for comfort.

A spokeswoman for the RSPB said: “Despite some very slight changes in lockdown restrictions, all our nature reserves remain closed to the public for now. Our priority will be to ensure that we only reopen a reserve when we have everything in place to keep our members, visitors, volunteers and employees safe.

“We also must make sure that the wildlife that calls our sites home is ready to receive attention after a couple of months completely on its own. With reports of rare species nesting on and near busy paths, it’s going to take us some time to make sure they are safe too. We ask that you bear with us in these difficult times and check our website regularly for updates.”

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The National Trust also has some countryside across the region – and some car parks have been reopened so visitors can park before walking in this countryside.

The trust has countryside at Sutton Hoo and Dunwich Heath which is crossed by rights of way that have remained open for exercise during the lockdown, as well as open land at Ickworth Park. It also has some smaller pieces of land across the county, like Kyson Point at Woodbridge.

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Car parks at some of its smaller sites have been reopened so people can drive there for exercise – but other sites will take longer.

A spokeswoman said: “For several weeks we have been working on plans to reopen our places. We are really looking forward to welcoming visitors back.

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“We’re closely following government guidance at all times and are now considering the detailed plan. The safety of our staff, volunteers, visitors and local communities remains our priority.

“We have started opening some car parks in England, in line with government advice, so people can access fresh air, open space and nature. Car parks which are staffed and have facilities will take longer.

“All opening decisions will be guided by local judgement. It’s important that we avoid hotspots developing for the safety of visitors and local communities, and we may not open places where this is too great a risk.

“For the moment our pay-for entry places including houses and gardens, remain closed. Any reopening will need to be phased and gradual. In order to maintain social distancing when they reopen we plan to introduce a pre-booking system. The latest government guidance about outdoor ticketed venues means they remain closed for now.

“We are very grateful to our members and supporters for helping us work through these plans, and for their continued loyal support.”

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