Reed bed boardwalk
This SSSI reed bed (designated Site of Special Scientific Interest) is a one of the largest in Sussex. Reed beds are a priority habitat for nature conservation in the UK and WWT are working hard to restore and maintain this vital habitat for wildlife.
This stretch of the boardwalk, beside the Meadow Maze, is a great spot to look for water voles. To the right is nesting box number four designed with nesting holes against the trunk especially for tree creepers. Ahead an old water butt wedged in a tree top is a nesting box for owls. Across the small bridge you enter the reed bed.
Along this section the reeds tower overhead and wave gently on all sides, punched through by channels cut in on a six year rotation.
Make frequent stops along the way to listen out for reed buntings and cettis warblers. Look up to see the majestic Offham Hanger, where peregrines and buzzards soar.
Along the way read the Field Notes boards with tips on spotting wildlife, while the Discovery Trails offer titbits relating to our themed events.
A small side path leads you to the reed chamber, a building and sculpture created by artist Chris Drury in 2002.
This chamber, made on the floating boardwalk within the reed bed, is thatched with reeds and, via a lens and mirror, projects the image of the waving reed tops within.
The sculpture becomes a large camera obscura. By placing a lens or aperture in the roof and making the floor white, the reed chamber brings what it is outside, inside.
The structure is made from willow battens supported by curved chestnut poles.
Thatching is by Chris Tomkins. During the 25 years Chris Drury has been creating art, the themes in his work have included nature and culture, inner and outer and microcosm and macrocosm.
Here you can see how wetland converts to woodland as tree leaves build up, decomposing into soil. Look here for water rails in winter. The nesting boxes often house blue tits.
Wetlands secrets and reed bed hide
The reed bed stretches onwards past the thatched building of wetland secrets and around the reed bed hide.
Wetland secrets houses a display of wetland plants and how man has used them as food and medicine throughout history.
The reed bed hide looks out over the reed bed. Grit tables beside the hide are to entice wintering bearded tits. Pipistrelle bats nest in boxes alongside the hide and in its rafters.