Welney visitor centre forced to close for first time due to high water levels on Ouse Washes

THE visitor centre at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s Welney reserve was forced to close for the first time because of exceptionally high water levels.

A peak depth of 3.85m was reached on the Ouse Washes on December 1. It was the first time the visitor centre had to close since it opened six-and-a-half years ago.

The only other time the main observatory had to close was in 2007, when the Washes reached a depth of 4.28m. However, it was not during the winter so staff didn’t have to worry about feeding the swans.

A count carried out on Friday showed that there are 3,120 whooper swans and 407 Bewick’s swans already at Welney, 2,300 of which were out on the new wetlands next to the visitor centre.

Leigh Marshall, WWT Welney Reserve Manager, is encouraging nature lovers to come along and witness a memorable winter wildlife spectacle.

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He said: “Dawn at Welney is the best time to see the spectacle of the wild migratory swans leaving their roost.

“Now that there are hundreds of swans using the land next to the visitor centre, in addition to those already roosting in front of the main hide, visitors can enjoy swan filled skies.”

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WWT Welney manages more than 300 acres of wetland habitat, which are important for several species of wintering wildfowl and as summer breeding grounds, on and around the Ouse washes

The centre will be opening from 7am tomorrow and Monday, with refreshments available throughout the morning, and the main observatory will also be opened early.

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