Now is the perfect time to come and experience the winter wildfowl spectacle at WWT Welney. The arrival of thousands of ducks and swans over the past two months will soon bring numbers to their peak.
Whooper swans coming in from Iceland can reach numbers of 8,000; whilst the smaller, shyer Bewick’s swans coming in from Arctic Russia number 3,000. To see the most swans a visit at dawn or dusk is best. The swan fly out from the reserve in the early morning and return at the end of the day in large flocks. The flight at sunset can be seen daily a short while after the commentated swan feed at 3.30pm.
If a visit is made at the end of the week, a floodlit evening swan feed can be enjoyed at 6.30pm after the flight in.
To watch the swans flying out of the reserve at dawn, join our guides at the Swan’s awake events on selected dates throughout the winter. Our Festival of Swans weekend in January is the perfect chance to find out more about the swans from a range of experts giving talk over the two days.
Alongside the swans tens of thousands of ducks migrate to the UK, heading south to us for winter. Whilst the swans are a beautiful pristine-white, the male ducks come in a range of colours. Wigeon with their chestnut heads, sporting a creamyyellow forehead blaze can be found grazing the grass in large flocks. Pochard with their bright red-heads can be seen right in front of the main hide at feeding time, diving beneath the water to catch the grain. Shoveler with their iridescent green-blue heads and large, flattened-out bill can be admired swimming face down in the water in circles drawing small insects and plant matter to the surface to feed on.
If water level remain reasonable in winter without too much flooding, we should be in for a treat with flocks of wading birds using the spits of land and muddy areas to feed and roost on. In particular, black-tailed godwits from Iceland have used the Ouse Washes more and more in recent years, with numbers topping 1,600 last January.
You can enjoy the spectacle, whether you patiently sift through the sea of godwits to find those individuals with coloured leg rings, or catch sight of the whole flock as they erupt into the air to evade predators.
The hares on Lady Fen have become one of the top winter highlights at WWT Welney and our walks with guides are the best way to fully appreciate them. Whether the ground is covered in snow making them stand out or, it is a sunny winter’s day encouraging them to think of spring, getting that bit closer to these evocative creatures is a fantastic experience.
We have the perfect setting and equipment for young explorersat WWT Welney. At Christmas, become a swan researcher and see if you have what it takes to monitor these special birds. Collect an activity backpack, complete with your swan researcher challenge and start to explore the reserve completing the tasks we have set.
February Half Term is the time to put a winter of welly-sploshing antics into effect at Dusty’s Puddle Jumping Championships. Bring your friends and family and see who can make the biggest splash with our special ‘splashometer’. As well as splashing about in puddles there’s lots of other fun activities to have a go at such as building bird feeders, watching a swan feed and going on a hare walk.