Birds flock to new habitat in Welney
WADING BIRDS have stunned staff and visitors alike by flocking to the newly created habitat at Welney Wetland Centre.
The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), along with the support of the Environment Agency and Natural England, converted two areas of farmland in the hope of attracting more wildlife to the area. Their work has been rewarded with a dramatic increase in the number of sightings.
Leigh Marshall, Reserve Manager at WWT Welney, said: “The birds have turned up in such huge numbers and is just goes to show that there’s a real demand for this type of habitat.
“Many farms once included wet fields like these but it is estimated about 45 percent were drained over the 20th century which has undeniably had an effect on wader numbers around the country.”
The new habitat covering nearly 80 hectares can be seen from the cafe at the centre and has allowed eager visitors the chance to see birds rearing their chicks. In 2008 just five pairs of lapwing bred in the arable fields beside the Ouse Washes but this year 67 have been recorded in the same area including lapwing, redshank, little ringer plover and avocet.
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Mr Marshall said: “All around the world, populations of wading birds are declining, largely because their wetland habitats are being ruined.
“Globally 23 species of wader are red listed and another 20 species are heading in that direction. So we’re hugely proud to be able to report such a successful breeding season. It clearly demonstrates how important habitat is to conservation.”
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WWT created the wet grassland by digging a system of ditches, channels and scrapes into the former arable land and seeding it with native grasses.
Roger Gerry from Natural England also said: “The figures speak for themselves. This is a huge boost to wetland birds in the Fens and for everyone that comes to enjoy seeing them.”