Hundreds of Bewick’s arrive in time for Festival of Swans at Welney

SEVERAL hundred Bewick’s swans have returned to Welney Wetland Centre to the relief of staff who feared the worst after only four showed up before last week.

More than 4,000 of the swans are expected at the reserve, the largest roost of Bewick’s in Europe and on Saturday, the first 40 Bewick’s arrived after a 3,000km flight ahead of the Festival of Swans.

Leigh Marshall, reserve manager, said: “It is great to have our furthest reaching swans return in force as they are a flagship species for the WWT Welney and are one of the reasons that the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust’s founder, Peter Scott, saw the need to protect such an important wetlands site.

“It is really encouraging to see family groups at this early stage of the winter.

“The sooty-grey cygnets have undergone a huge migration, made all the more amazing by the fact that there are only a few months old when they have to do this for the first time.”


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Mild weathers and westerly winds slowed the migration from arctic Russia but north-easterly winds encouraged the mass of 3,000 swans who had gathered in Holland.

A full compliment of swans can now be seen at Welney after the arrival of mute, whooper and Bewick’s swans and visitors to the centre can see them flying at dusk and dawn from the warmth of the main observatory.

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Swan events include:

Winter wild swan feeds: Sat 22 October 2011 – Sun 11 March 2012, 3.30pm daily.

Thousands of Whooper and Bewick’s swans, ducks and other water birds spend the winter at Welney. Experience this from the comfort of our heated observatory as the wardens feed some of the birds accompanied with an expert commentary. Normal admission applies.

Floodlit wild swan feeds: Thurs 3 November 2011 – Sun 26 February 2012, 6.30pm, Thursday – Sundays only.

This magical spectacle of hundreds of wild swans fed under floodlight, whilst the rest can be seen roosting on the washes, is one not to be missed. Normal admission applies.

Midday wild swan feeds: Mon 26 December 2011 – Sun 11 March 2012, 12noon daily.

Thousands of Whooper and Bewick’s swans, ducks and other waterbirds spend the winter at Welney. Experience this from the comfort of our heated observatory as the wardens feed some of the birds accompanied with an expert commentary. Normal admission applies.

Early birders: Sat 26 November, Thurs 15 & Fri 30 December, Mon 16 & Sat 28 January, Sat 11 & Tues 14 February, entry at 7am.

An opportunity for visitors and members to gain early access to the reserve and witness the swans and other wildfowl waking at dawn and flying out from the roosting site to the surrounding fields. A warden will allow entry to the reserve at 7am. All hides will be open (weather and water levels permitting) including the main observatory. Reserve access only until the centre opens as normal at 10am. See website for more details. Normal admission price applies; Adults �7.10, Concessions �5.35, WWT members free. Booking essential.

Swan’s awake: Sat 19 November, Sat 3 December, Thurs 16 February, 6.30am – 8.30am.

Each night thousands of whooper and Bewick’s swans roost on the Welney washes. Enter the observatory or walk to Lyle hide in the darkness of an early winter’s morning and have a panorama of wetlands and wildfowl revealed to you as the sun rises. As the light increases hundreds of swans take flight, heading out to the arable fields to feed for the day. Return to the Wigeon Caf� for a hearty breakfast served from 8am onwards or watch the swans being fed from the main observatory at 8.30am. Participants are then free to do some early morning bird watching before the centre opens to the general public at 10am. See website for more details. �12 per person; booking essential. Optional breakfast - �6.00.

Bewick’s flight in: All Wednesdays – 16, 23, 30 November, 7 December, 25 January, 1 & 8 February, 4pm returning to the centre for about 6pm.

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