Spring has sprung at your local wetland centre

Hello from WWT Welney Wetland centre, we are situated less than seven miles from the centre of Littleport. Plus we are on the same side of the Ouse Washes as you, so when the Welney Wash Road floods it does not affect access from the A10 and yourselves.

We see most of our human visitors during our winter season when about 10,000 swans return to the Ouse Washes, and we provide a fantastic place to watch the daily movements as the birds fly between the wetlands that they roost on and the arable fields they feed in. However, there is a greater diversity of species that call our reserve home in the spring and summer.

We are now fast approaching the breeding season of the birds that we enjoy to watch on the reserve. You may well have a favourite bird species that you regularly watch throughout the year in your garden, but you may also notice additional species turning up as the weather warms. Our wetlands are just the same in that respect, as swallows, yellow wagtail and little-ringed plover all join the mute swans and barn owls that are here all year round.

But our wetlands provide some very particular conditions for some very special birds – one such bird is the black-tailed godwit. Only around 60 pairs breed in the UK, most of which can be found on the Ouse Washes and the Nene Washes (towards Peterborough). These are what remains of what was once a much more widespread population.

Project Godwit, is a partnership between RSPB and WWT which aims to give this species of bird a boost in numbers with innovative conservation action. It is only thanks to major funding from the EU LIFE Nature Programme, The HSBC 150th Anniversary Fund, Natural England and the Heritage Lottery Fund that this project is able to exist. You can follow the godwits progress at www. projectgodwit.org.uk @projectgodwit www.facebook.com/projectgodwit or come down to the centre between now and June to find out more from us.

As well as trying to improve the future of wetland species we are also focussed on providing great opportunities for people to connect with healthy wetlands and the wildlife that these places support. Whether you have the time available to spend a whole day watching the avocets tending their nests and protecting their vulnerable chicks or only a half an hour to chance a sighting of a water vole or a kingfisher, we provide the best spots for everyone to access. In March watch in awe as huge numbers of golden plover get ready to move North, in April spot kingfishers on the ponds whilst enjoying a drink in the café, and in May bring the first person to see the avocet chicks hatching.

During term time the reserve is generally very quiet and a beautiful space to recharge your batteries, but we also put on extra activities on the school holidays to encourage younger visitors to explore the wetlands too. Dusty’s GIANT Duck Hunt at Easter is when we start our summer activities of pond dipping and bug hunting too. You and your family can help Dusty Duck find the GIANT yellow ducks which have got lost around the reserve from Fri 30 March – Sun 15 April.

Then on the summer Half Term, Sat 26 May – Sun 3 June you can return to take part in the Pond-dipping competition. The challenge is to find the most exciting and unusual creatures beneath the water’s surface. You’ll need to hone your netting technique to get the best catch. Take a closer look at the creatures in your tray to see how they are able to exist in the waterways and what makes them so special.

Tues 13 March

Hawk & Owl Trust Talk

An evening talk by Zoe Smith of the Hawk & Owl Trust, about their Norfolk reserve at Sculthorpe Moor and the Norwich Cathedral Peregrines.
7.30-9.30pm. £3PP, (£2 Friends of Welney members).

Fri 30 March – Sun 15 April

Dusty’s GIANT Easter Duck Hunt
Calling all kids – we’ve lost our GIANT yellow ducks and Dusty Duck needs you and your family to help him find them at Welney this Easter.

Tues 10 April

A year at Holme Dunes

An evening talk by Gary Hubbard, Warden at NWT Holme Dunes reserve.
7.30-9.30pm. £3PP, (£2 Friends of Welney members).

Sat 19 May
Bats & barn owls
Explore the reserve by night. Join our guide to watch barn owls coming out to hunt, use bat detectors to get insight into the lives of these incredible mammals and see which moths and other insects visit the light and scent stations.
8.30-11pm. £12 adults, £5 children

Sat 26 May – Sun 3 June
Pond dipping competition
Explore the reserve this spring and take part in the pond dipping competition.

Tues 12 June
Insects in North West Norfolk
An evening talk by Robert Smith of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, hosted by the Friends of Welney group.
7.30-9.30pm. £3PP, (£2 Friends of Welney members).

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