YOUNG bird watchers visiting a nature reserve at the North-East's second largest reservoir will now be able to twitch in style.

Northumbrian Water and Northumberland County Council have built a £20,000 bird hide which provides panoramic views over the nature reserve at Derwent Reservoir and beyond.

The hide is large enough to accomodate up to 20 able-bodied visitors and four people in wheelchairs.

Pupils from St Mary's Roman Catholic School, in Blackhill, Consett, will be at the reserve for the hide's official opening today.

They will learn about the surrounding woodlands and have the chance to plant a tree to mark the occasion.

Sir Fred Holliday, chairman of Northumbrian Water and a keen ornithologist, will open the hide at 11am.

He said: "Watching wildlife is wonderful - full of excitement and surprises. What is more, there is a different show every day, so you watch and watch again."

As part of the opening of the hide, a dawn-to-dusk vigil was organised for twitchers to spot the more elusive birds and creatures such as otter, red squirrel and osprey.

The reservoir was built 36 years ago, holds up to 11,000 million gallons of water and covers 1,000 acres. The reserve covers 300 acres of land and water and provides a quiet sanctuary for wildlife, including more than 100 species of birds