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Natural spectacle sees thousands of swans migrate to Norfolk for winter

PUBLISHED: 16:57 30 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:57 30 October 2019

WWT Welney has already started to see the arrival of the whooper swans from Iceland. Picture: Sacha Dench.

WWT Welney has already started to see the arrival of the whooper swans from Iceland. Picture: Sacha Dench.

WWT Media Production

The first migrant swans have started to arrive at a wildfowl trust's Norfolk site, after a 2,500-mile journey to reach the UK.

The birds migrate to the UK during the winter, making their way to the wetlands of the Ouse Washes in Norfolk. Picture: Steve Jones.The birds migrate to the UK during the winter, making their way to the wetlands of the Ouse Washes in Norfolk. Picture: Steve Jones.

As snow begins to fall in Arctic Russia, migration has begun for the Bewick's swans, which migrate to the UK during the winter, making their way to the wetlands of the Ouse Washes.

Fewer numbers of Bewick's swans are arriving in the UK as warmer winters allow them to survive through the winter months in countries like Germany, Poland and even Estonia where fresh water and food is available.

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WTT) has already started to see the arrival of the whooper swans from Iceland at its Welney Wetland Centre, near Wisbech.

Emma Brand, marketing and events officer, said: "The recent cold weather in Iceland means we are getting more and more whooper swans arriving every day and we had our first Bewick's swan back from Arctic Russia on the reserve last Friday.

A pair of whooper swans in flight. Picture: Kim Tarsey.A pair of whooper swans in flight. Picture: Kim Tarsey.

"Recently we've only had a thousand but we're still a stronghold for Bewick's and whooper swans at the Ouse at Welney."

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The centre covers 1,300 acres and is managed by 15 staff and 40 volunteers who look after and monitor the birds.

Hetty Grant, warden at WWT Welney said: "Winter may not seem like the obvious time to get outside and explore, but some of the UK's best wildlife spectacles take place at this time of year.

"Thousands of birds are making their way south to escape cold weather further north and take advantage of the relatively mild conditions found in the UK.

"We always look forward to seeing the first flocks of whooper and Bewick's swans returning as autumn progresses.

"These birds are joined by flocks of wigeon, teal and black-tailed godwit that fill our wetlands and provide inspiring views.

"Despite their winter range of Bewick's swans moving West, Norfolk is still a stronghold for this species with over 1,000 of these beautiful birds joining 10,000 whooper swans here each winter."

The Welney Wetland Centre is open during the winter from 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 8pm Saturday and Sunday.

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