Gloucestershire based architects, Millar Howard Workshop Ltd are working on the transformation of Sir Peter Scott’s former home here at Slimbridge, into a brand new museum.

Sir Peter Scott was the founding father of conservation, so it is no surprise that wildlife and specifically the preservation of several types of wildfowl have been integral to the development of Scott House. The timings of the construction phase and even the site visits have been meticulously planned, yet still require complete flexibility as wildlife abides by its own unpublished schedule.

Avoiding disturbance to the Bewick’s swans

The Bewick’s Swans have been of particular focus for this project. Bewick’s are renowned worldwide for their annual visit to Slimbridge each winter, yet these birds remain very timid around humans. They are easily frightened and could become unsettled if they see an unfamiliar person or even a silhouette of a person, so it’s imperative all construction workers are clear of the external site before they arrive for the winter here in the UK.

To reduce the likelihood of disturbance or disruption to the Bewick’s swans every possible scenario has been thought through and suitable contingencies have been put in place to avoid unexpected occurrences, which could cause delays and increase costs.

Being the first to know when the Bewick’s will arrive at Slimbridge

One of the strategies is maintaining open communications with a specialist in The Netherlands who is on standby 24 hours a day, watching out for the swans which are due to land there as part of their 7000km migration from Siberia back to the UK. Once they have landed on the feeding grounds in Holland the birds will spend some time gaining sustenance and strength before completing their final leg and arriving at the lake in Slimbridge.

Adapting construction plans if required

From the moment the first swan arrives this winter, the external work on the lake side of the building must be finished or have to be halted until they fly back to their Siberian breeding grounds again in the spring.

To date, the project is proceeding in accordance with the schedule and the external work is most likely to be completed in time for the Swans’ return to Slimbridge this winter.