WWT Welney, January 2019

For the first time for some years all of the Welney Reserve hides were accessible using the footpaths. This year, the excess water from the Old and New Bedford Rivers was contained within the flood control area, thus attracting thousands of swans, geese ducks and waders. The Reserve is most famous for the hundreds of Whooper swans which fly the 1200 miles non-stop from Iceland to over-winter in thearea. Fewer numbers of Bewick’s swans migrate from Arctic Russia to Welney andother UK sites to spend their winter with us before returning in the Spring to breed.

Our Group enjoyed a welcome coffee whilst looking over Lady Fen, with very few birds on show, except for the many tree sparrows, gold finches and reed buntings on the feeders. We walked over the bridge into the centrally heated main hide where we enjoyed close up views of the Whooper and Mute swans They were outnumbered by scores of mainly male pochards. Interestingly the female pochards migrate further south into France and other parts of mainland Europe. Being female they must know something!!

A very impressive sight was a huge raft of roosting black tailed godwits on a mud bar. A recent count showed around 1700 birds on the reserve. And the WWT have had some success in rearing chicks and releasing on site.

One of the wardens gave the usual interesting introduction to Sir Peter Scott, the WWT and then talked about the visiting migrant birds on view. The birds were then fed from a wheelbarrow which this year didn’t have to be floated out on an inflatedcar inner tube!

Out total of 35 species was marginally boosted by a few waders seen from the outlying hides. And we recorded two mammals!

We thought that lunch was somewhat improved in quality from previous years. Long that may continue. A few birdy cards were purchased before we made for home after another Welney Winter Birding spectacular!

Species seen:
Tree sparrow, house sparrow, goldfinch, reed bunting, blue tit, blackbird, dunnock, robin, rook, crow, whooper swan, mute swan, greylag goose, pinkfoot goose, BH Gull, herring gull, LBB gull, pochard, gadwall, mallard, tufted duck, teal, wigeon, coot, moorhen, pintail, shoveller, shelduck, black tailed godwit, redshank, dunlin, snipe, little egret, redwing, field fayre

Roe deer, rabbit

Peter Heath