Swan feeding at Welney

ANYONE wanting to witness the unique spectacle of seeing wild swans being fed at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust at Welney, should visit in the next few days.

The wardens at WWT Welney will be saying goodbye to winter visitors including whooper swans, Bewick’s swans and the pochard at the daily 12noon and 3.30pm feeds which finish on Sunday March 13.

Thousands of migratory swans use internationally important wetlands sites like the Ouse washes throughout UK during the winter. One of the best places to see them is from sites like WWT Welney, which offers views across the 1000 acre reserve to witness these birds in their natural environment.

As winter lessens its grip and the days start to draw out, these majestic birds will start their incredible migrations back to their breeding grounds. For Bewick’s swans this means flying 2,200 miles across the continent to Arctic Russia. We have started to hear reports of Bewick’s swans being sited moving East; although numbers are still strong at Welney, with brilliant opportunities to see them as they return onto the reserve to roost at dusk.

The whooper swans will start their migration a little later as they make their way, 1,200 miles to their breeding grounds in Iceland. Both species of swan will have made themselves ready for this journey by feeding up on carbohydrate-rich food sources like waste potatoes, grain and sugar beet tops from this season’s harvest, which they find in the surrounding arable land.

Jon Smith, WWT Welney Conservation warden said: “The Ouse Washes holds the largest UK roosting site for both Bewick’s and whooper swans. The reason they migrate to sites like WWT Welney is for the safe roosting site coupled with excellent feeding grounds.”

“Seeing the swans depart marks the end of the winter season, with all the other wintering wildfowl also starting their migrations. But March through to May is a really interesting time of the year, with all our spring arrivals and passage migrants using the reserve. We’re now in for a very busy time out on the washes with breeding birds displaying, nesting and raising chicks. Whilst out on the relatively immature wetland areas, Lady Fen and Bank Farm, visitors can see hares boxing from the comfort of the Wigeon cafe”

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Emma Brand, WWT Welney Events & Marketing Officer said: “We are always sad to see the swan feeds come to an end and the swans moving away but the summer is just as exciting as we hold events including bats & barn owls and canoe safaris or our big buddies events for the younger wildlife enthusiasts.

WWT Welney is open daily from 9.30am – 5pm from March – October, with free entry for members. A full list of the summer events as well as wildlife sightings can be found on the website at www.wwt.org.uk/welney or follow us on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/WWTWelney.