RESTORATIONS to part of a nature reserve that was destroyed in a fire have been halted as protected birds are nesting on the site.

Pershore residents were left devastated after a fire at Avon Meadows Community Wetland and Local Nature Reserve completely destroyed the pond dipping platform used by local schools and other groups to learn about wetland wildlife.

Liz Etheridge, Wildlife Sites Project Officer at Wychavon District Council, said: “Improvements to the pond dipping platform at Avon Meadows have been halted temporarily due to birds, including Cuckoos and Sedge Warblers, nesting in the reed beds. We are refraining from any developments at this time to avoid disturbing them. Visitors are still very welcome and there are plenty of activities to take part in.

Pond dipping is still available in other areas of the reserve, as well as bug-hunting and more. Since the fire, The Friends of Avon Meadows has received a fantastic response from the community who have generously fundraised and offered donations to help. We hope to make the popular platform larger and even better than before.”

The fire, on Wednesday, January 9 is thought to have been started deliberately. Thanks to fire fighters, the blaze was contained, preventing it from spreading further, into the nearby reed beds. Sadly the body of a frog that did not survive the fire was found.

The Friends of Avon Meadows, a registered charity posted on their website: “Many properties overlook the meadow and we ask that in future any suspicious behaviour be reported to members of the committee asap regardless of the time of day- a few more observers would also be useful.”

The Wetland was established in 2008 jointly by Pershore Town Council and Wychavon District Council and is supported The Friends of Avon Meadows. It comprises an area of 24 hectares beside the River Avon only a 5 minute walk from the town centre.

Originally water meadows, a series of flooded scrapes have been created as a haven for wildlife. There are numerous footpaths in the area and a boardwalk runs through the middle of the wetland so that visitors can get up close to the wildlife.