Coronavirus shuts Lyndon Visitor Centre - but people can still see ospreys at Rutland Water
A wildlife conservation charity has closed its visitor centre and cancelled all events amid coronavirus fears.
But Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust has also stressed that its reserves will remain accessible.
It means nature-lovers will still be able to see the ospreys, which have just returned to their nest near Lyndon Visitor Centre on the banks of Rutland Water.
In a statement, the trust’s CEO, Tim Graham, said people who feel well enough should still connect with nature as long as they keep a respectful distance from others.
Announcing the closure of the centre, he said: “Following recent updates from the Government with regards to COVID 19 we have taken the difficult decision to cancel all our events and volunteer activities until the end of April. We will also be closing Lyndon Visitor Centre until further notice.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused, we know this is a difficult time for everyone and we hope you can understand. We are regularly and carefully monitoring the developing guidance and situation.
“We will follow all guidance from authorities and prioritise the well being of our staff, volunteers and visitors.”
Despite the actions taken, Mr Graham urged people to stay connected with the outdoors, whether they are under self-imposed isolation or not.
“We still encourage everyone to stay connected to nature,” he said. “If you feel well enough, our nature reserves will remain open and accessible for people to continue to enjoy, but please practice social distancing and be respectful of others.
“If you are in self-isolation why not try and get some fresh air in the garden or look for signs of spring from the window? We will be posting lots of things on our social media channels over the next few weeks to keep our spirits up and give you ideas on how to stay wild from home.”
He added: “Most of our staff will be working from home where possible, so please be patient with us as we may take a little longer to respond to messages and phone calls.”
People can still view the ospreys at Lyndon Nature Reserve from the Waderscrape and Shallow Water hides. There is also a webcam set up so they can observe the birds of prey from the comfort of their homes.
Ospreys arrive at Rutland Water between March and September each year.
The population in Rutland has risen steadily since the birds were reintroduced to the area in the 1990s.
Historically, ospreys were widespread throughout the UK, but were driven to extinction by man, according to Rutland Water Nature Reserve’s website.
In 1954 ospreys naturally returned to Scotland and began breeding, but due to their instinct to return to their place of birth they were not spreading south into England.
The Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and Anglian Water worked together on a project to bring the osprey back to England.
It proved a success and since the first breeding took place in 2001, 117 young ospreys have fledged from nests in the Rutland area, of which there are now eight.