I came across some old pictures the other day of the screens and boardwalk at Waltons when the visitor facilities were first put in (about 2003). I've taken some photos of my own as it is now to make a comparison.
Looking down the boardwalk to the bridge/pond etc 2003 approx
2012: Much softer look to it now. Of course there have been a few changes on the right of the picture since the first photo. Now we have a pond dipping platform, bench, log circle for the kids, log piles and a bench. This area is now the main focus for the school groups we have in. We also manage parts of the area as a bit of a meadow and the vegetation structure and diversity is changing slowly and beginning to look good.
2003: The bridge over the pond at the end of the boardwalk.
2012: A lot more growth in this area now (although one was taken in winter and the other in summer the difference is obvious).
2003: From the second screen at Waltons facing back to the first and the platform beyond.
2012: One of the biggest changes. They feel more private and there's a lot more natural screening from willow trees etc. Of course we have to manage these from time to time so they do not become too big and unmanageable. We also manage the edges of the boardwalk and screens regularly to keep it looking good and stop brambles and nettles etc from encroaching onto the walkways.
There could be more changes on the way soon - with plans to build and extra screen on the high bank which runs through the middle of Waltons. This would hopefully give the feeling of being right out in the reedbed. I will let you know more as the project progresses.
It takes time for a site to mature both in terms of it's habitat and the facilities it needs. The habitat seems to be maturing nicely with great results in recent years for breeding Bitterns and Bearded tits and more recently the fantastic sight of Great White Egrets feeding happily on the reserve. We have also put surveys out on the reserve in the screens to find out what things you like/dislike about the reserve and any changes you might like to see. If you haven't filled one out yet, please do and let us know your thoughts. There are pens and a postbox along with the forms at the first screen.