While I completely understand that visitor numbers need to be controlled at Holme, this new system will understandably make most, if not all NWT members pretty irate! Reading Twitter this evening, I can see a lot of anger and disbelief already. As a birder, you go birding wherever you wish to on the day and most of the time, its not planned. When you are a member of an organisation, such as the NWT, RSPB etc etc, you expect to be able to visit their reserves and don't want to have book a car parking space the day before!!!
Personally I think the NWT have cocked up on this big time. As I said, they do need to manage the massive increase and pressure at Holme, its become insane, but they have gone about it the wrong way in my opinion. What they SHOULD have done, is to allow all NWT members to visit as normal (producing their membership card at the usual pay hut) and ALL non-members (beach visitors) to book on line the day before. So the system is a good idea, a brilliant idea in fact, but definitely should NOT include their members! Membership is the NWT's bread and butter – not a good idea to treat your members in this way.
If NWT headquarters decide this trial is a good idea and continues with it, they will lose a lot of their members and the NOA will gain loads of new members! I phoned Sophie (NOA warden) this evening to clarify the situation at NOA. If you are an NOA member, it won't affect you at all and you won't need to book or pay anything – simply park on the NOA car park as normal, dawn until dusk! I'm glad I'm an NOA member!!! I can see the NOA membership rising over the next few days/weeks ahead, especially with us heading towards peak migration in May!