A mindless vandal kept birdwatchers from an internationally-important nature reserve for two weeks after pouring engine oil over four of its six hides.
It cost the Wildlife Trust about £250 and took a dozen people several days to clean the hides, at Titchmarsh Nature Reserve, which forms part of the recently-designated Special Protection Area of Nene Valley, after someone poured oil over the seats, shelves and floor last month.
Lucy Ryan, reserves officer for the Wildlife Trust, said: “It’s mindless. It’s of no benefit to anyone, including the person who did it.
“It’s just time and money for us to repair the damage.”
A team of four staff and eight volunteers had to plane off the surface of the seats to remove the soaked-in oil after the vandal struck between midday on January 8 and 9am the following morning.
The hides were closed until Monday last week.
Birdwatcher John Showers, 64, of Rothwell, who visits the reserve a couple of times a month, said: “It’s utterly mindless. It seems that they have a grudge against the reserve, birdwatchers or the Wildlife Trust.”
Ms Ryan said youngsters scrawl graffiti or kick boards out of the hides to burn a couple of times each summer and illegal campers sometimes leave rubbish, but this act was of a new level.
A police spokesman said: “Criminal damage is always distressing for the individual or community affected by mindless vandalism. When it affects an area of outstanding natural beauty like the nature reserve, it becomes increasingly so.
“The reserve is open to the public at all times. In order to ensure these beauty spots remain as accessible as they are at present, please let us know if you have any information about the perpetrators. Don’t let the vandals win.”
Anyone with information can call police on 101, 03000 111222 from outside the county or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.