For wetlands, spring and summer brings new life. Will you discover something new at your local Wetland Centre this season?
With a successful spring the efforts of the busily nesting birds will be rewarded with the hatching of their chicks. In early summer watch avocet, lapwing, redshank and common tern chicks as they become more adventurous, feeding in the shallow water. Ducklings and cygnets will be following their parents around the pools and ditches, sometimes catching a lift on the backs of mum or dad. Whilst in the hides, look up to see swallows and house martins swooping in, feeding their growing young. On the feeders at the Visitor Centre juvenile sparrows, goldfinches and reed buntings are fed by their attentive parents.
Through the spring and summer months it’s not just birds that can be seen from the hides as the Washes are home to around 600 cows. Their munching habits help manage the vegetation, creating perfect tussocky patches for nesting and feeding birds. As the cows head down to the water’s edge to drink, watch their hooves squelch the mud. These poached areas are ideal for feeding waders and their young. Look out for the reserve team riding trial bikes through the Washes, as they carry out their daily count of the cows.
Whilst enjoying the summer sunshine, why not venture along the Summer Walk, through the Washes to the River Delph? Listen for the songs of warblers, like the unmistakable chiffchaff and Cetti’s warbler as they proclaim their territories. Being out on the Washes really gives you a sense of the wide open landscape and allows you to enjoy the peace and tranquillity.
During the summer season the Washes burst into colour, with bright wildflowers such as great willow herb, flowering rush and marsh woundwort. Butterflies, bees and other insects will also be in abundance, nectaring on the profusion of wildflowers. Why not see how many butterflies you can spot and take part in the Big Butterfly Count (Fri 19 July to Sun 11 August)?
Warmer days increase your chances of seeing dragonflies and damselflies on the wing; June to August is the height of their activity. Up to 21 species have been recorded on site. Be on the lookout for larger hawker dragonflies patrolling the paths and ditches, darters perched on branches soaking up the sun, as well as the dainty blue damselflies skimming over the water.
Want to know what is living under the water surface? With all the equipment available at our two platforms, try your hand at some pond dipping. With each sweep of the net you may discover damselfly nymphs, pond skaters, ramshorn snails or even a water scorpion. With lots to learn, at weekends and select days during spring and summer holidays guides are on hand to help you with identifying those trickier critters.
Discover the nocturnal life on the reserve during our popular Bat and Barn Owl evenings. As the sun sets, barn owls hunt over the wetland meadows. Bats emerge to feed, sometimes flying right over your heads. Pipistrelle, noctule and daubenton’s are just some of the eight bat species to watch and listen out for as we head out along the paths. We return to the Centre to see moths fluttering around the light traps; from large, colourful hawk moths to tiny micro moths, smaller than your finger nail. For all details about events throughout the period go to our What’s On page at www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/welney/