A new ‘living classroom’ was unveiled during a free open day at the Pagham Harbour local nature reserve on Saturday.
More than 250 people visited the reserve to see the new facilities, which include a re-built dipping pond for children boasting a platform for wheelchair access.
A new outdoor classroom shelter features bug hotels, while a newly-elevated wildlife-watching hide has improved disability access.
The improvements, which are designed to help the local community to get closer to nature, were funded by donations from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Friends of Pagham Harbour, the Sussex Ornithological Society and others.
They were officially opened on Saturday by a special guest – the naturalist and wildlife presenter Mike Dilger – who said he was ‘delighted’ to attend with his family.
Mr Dilger said: “The sun beat down on everyone who visited this fabulous reserve and the all the youngsters had a blast as they tried their hand at pond-dipping, kite-building and mud-sifting.
“For me, personally, it was great to see how busy the RSPB have been with the building of their state-of-the-art hide and education centre, but the highlight will always be the birds - and to see the thriving tern colony capped off a brilliant day... ‘kerr-rick’!”
Nic Scothern, RSPB South East’s Regional Director, said: “Our reserves are not just places for nature, they are places for the whole community to discover and enjoy.
“RSPB Pagham Harbour is a living classroom, and with support from local funders and National Lottery players through the National Lottery Heritage Fund we hope to educate and inspire people of all ages to care for the wildlife around them.”
The reserve, which is free to visit, is open all year round and runs a range of events throughout the year.