Visitors at WWT Welney in Norfolk can experience a white winter wonderland with a difference as thousands of swans return to the area after completing incredible journeys from their summer homes in Arctic Russia and Iceland.
To celebrate this migratory miracle, the wetland site is putting on a range of events to allow people to get closer to the swans and witness what is widely believed to be one of the season’s most spectacular events in UK nature.
Whooper swans from Iceland far outnumber the much rarer Bewick’s swans from Arctic Russia, but this is one of the few places where these winter travellers can be seen side by side along with our native mute swans. After spending their summers in the far north, pairs who have successfully bred have now shown their cygnets the migration for the first time.
Along with daily commented swan feeds, there will also be weekend events where visitors can watch these beautiful birds in a very special setting.
On Saturday and Sunday evenings, the site is hosting Floodlit Swan Feeds where, from the comfort of a warm hide, people can witness the birds flying in at dusk to have their last meal of the day. And on selected dates throughout winter, early risers can watch the birds waking up on the wetlands with one of the reserve’s wardens.
The events are a perfect pre and post-Christmas experience and a fantastic opportunity to leave the screens at home and explore the wildlife on your doorstep, taking in the sights and sounds of migratory birds arriving from distant lands.
Whilst the swans are the stars of the show, there is so much more to enjoy. From flocks of red-headed pochard ducks, to shoals of wading birds like godwits and plovers and the captivating views of birds of prey with harriers and owls. Take a walk with a guide to encounter charismatic hares and deer that also call these wetlands home. Not forgetting the landscape itself with huge skies, expanse of reed beds and the glorious trees which change from day to day during the winter months.
Emma Brand, Events & Marketing Officer said: “Winter is such an incredible time for the wetlands at WWT Welney. Thousands of birds arriving for winter mean it is the busiest time of year for numbers of wildlife.
“The daily coming and going of swans as they fly out to fields and return to roost is a familiar routine for the people living and working around the Ouse Washes landscape. Sharing this spectacle with visitors is a huge part of the work the staff and volunteers enjoy most about this time of year.”
Welney is open daily 10am-4pm Monday to Friday, 10am-7.30pm Saturday and Sundays for winter. Only closing on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Dates for the diary (wwt.org.uk/welney/whats-on/):
Swans awake morning events: Sat 16, Sun 17 December Sat 20, Sun 21 January Sat 3, Sun 4 February Sat 17, Sun 18 February
Swan feeds: 1 November – 29 February, 12noon & 3.30pm daily 4 November – 25 February, 6.30pm on Saturdays & Sunday only
Find out more: wwt.org.uk/welney