New habitat will be perfect home for rare birds

new Lady Fen habitat at Welney

new Lady Fen habitat at Welney - Credit: Archant

A new purpose built wetland habitat has officially opened next to the Welney centre.

New Lady Fen habitat opened

New Lady Fen habitat opened - Credit: Archant

The creation of this additional wetland habitat, called Lady Fen, was made possible thanks to a partnership project between the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), Waste Recycling Environmental Limited (WREN) and the Environment Agency.

The wetland creation at Lady Fen started in 2006 with the first 38 hectares; the latest section takes the total area of the wetland habitat to 114 hectares. This is in addition to the traditional reserve which lies on the Ouse Washes.

The increased periods of deeper and more prolonged flooding of recent years on the Ouse Washes have had a detrimental effect on the condition and availability of the habitat for wetland wildlife.

This new area will create a more stable wetland habitat with no chance that it will flood uncontrollably.

New Lady Fen habitat opened

New Lady Fen habitat opened - Credit: Archant

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This will provide the perfect site for wintering birds like Bewick’s swans and wigeon to roost and feed, additional waterways for water voles to colonise and vital areas for rare breeding waders such as black-tailed godwits to raise their chicks in the summer months.

Reworking the landscape has involved profiling the ditches to give a shallow slope to the water’s edge, creating depressions from the edges of the ditches to provide splashes of shallow water, seeding the area with wetland grasses and planting sedges along the ditches.

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The most dramatic difference has been putting the overhead power lines that ran through this section of land underground.

This was a vital step aims to encourage swans to use the area, as power lines pose a threat to swans when they are flying in low light conditions. Lisa Green, Programme Manager for WREN’s Biodiversity Action Fund said: “We and our donor landfill operator, FCC Environment, are delighted to see funding generated from the Landfill Communities Fund going to The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

Opening of new Lady Fen Wetland at Welney

Opening of new Lady Fen Wetland at Welney - Credit: Archant

“WREN is very happy to help fund a project that will restore and revive some of the UK’s most threatened habitats. The Trust’s project at Welney has created valuable wetland to benefit wintering wildfowl and breeding waders and enhance the enjoyment of the site’s many visitors.”

Julie Foley, Area Manager for the Environment Agency, said: “It’s been a pleasure to work with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Welney over many years and see the land change into valuable wetland habitat that’s attracting internationally important birdlife.”

Leigh Marshall, Centre Manager at WWT Welney, said: “We are delighted that our partnership with WREN and the Environment Agency has worked so well in providing this extra wildlife habitat. This habitat will support some of the rarest wading birds in the UK and give them the best chance to increase their population.”

Visitors can enjoy views of the new Wetland area from the WWT Welney visitor centre. Members of the public will be able to access the site through guided walks run at WWT Welney. The hare walks run from Boxing Day through to the end of February 2015.

See the swans at Welney

See the swans at Welney - Credit: Archant

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