TV Presenter and Naturalist, Mike Dilger, will be the special guest at this year’s Festival of Swans event at WWT Welney Wetland Centre.
Numbers of wintering swans, ducks and wading birds peak on the Ouse Washes this month, and along with a mix of low water levels and cold weather forecasted, we could be in for an incredible winter wetland scene.
Present conditions at Welney Wetland Centre are relatively low water levels. This will mean that Mike Dilger will only need to wear welly boots to walk along the edge of the lagoon in front of the main hide and feed the swans – slightly less water to contend with since his last time feeding the swans in a dry suit with a floating barrow. Visitors will be able to watch Mike feeding the swans, join him bird watching from the hide or even hear about his adventures filming with WWT at his talk.
Visitors will also be able to hear about Bewick’s swan conservation from WWT team members Kane Brides and Dr Kevin Wood. Kane has travelled to Artic Russia to tag Bewick’s swans and Iceland to tag whooper swans as part of our ongoing monitoring of these two migratory species. Kevin has monitored the wintering population of Bewick’s and whooper swans around the Ouse Washes to assess this stage of their year, and whether it has played into the decline of the Bewick’s swan population. Photojournalist, Ben Cherry, was a volunteer with the Flight of the Swans project and so has travelled the autumn migration of the Bewick’s swans from Arctic Russia to the UK alongside them. Dutch Bewick’s swan expert, Wim Tijsen, will be talking about how the Bewick’s swans fair in the Netherlands, on his 25th year of following the Bewick’s to the UK.
The low water levels mean that the Welney Wash Road is open, as well as all the hides and footpaths on the reserve. Pools of water in front of the hides and a few shallow flooded washes around the reserve are the current roosting options for the swans, meaning that a few prime locations on the reserve are the best spots for viewing the Bewick’s and whooper swans.
The Festival of Swans weekend provides the perfect opportunity for visitors to find out more about the rarest swan species found in the UK, from some of the key people working to protect them and their wetland homes.
10am Event starts
10am Mike Dilger guide in the hide with visitors
1-2pm Mike Dilger with panel of speakers for questions
3.30pm Mike Dilger feeding the swans Saturday and Sunday
For a full list of events and visitor centre facilities including directions, go to WWT Welney’s page – http://www.wwt.org.uk/visit/welney
Press release from WWT Welney Wetland Centre