Birds stopping off to ‘speed feed’ at Norfolk reserve on way south

L-R: Yellow wagtail CREDIT Roger Rawson/WWT

L-R: Yellow wagtail CREDIT Roger Rawson/WWT - Credit: Archant

Migrating birds have been stopping off at a west Norfolk nature reserve to 'speed feed', ahead of their journeys to southern Europe and Africa.

The flurry of activity at WWT Welney Wetland Centre, near Downham Market, means new birds are dropping in daily.

They need to stock up on food to keep their energy levels high and use the reserve like a service station.

Louise Clewley, Welney warden, said: 'The reserve acts like a giant airport, with birds on international journeys dropping in to rest and feed on the insects available.

'Then, when conditions are right, they take to the skies again and continue moving south to their wintering grounds.

'Our team of staff and volunteers work throughout the year to make sure the habitat is able to provide these incredible birds with the ideal place to stop.

'We move the cattle around the reserve to get the best finish on the vegetation through their grazing and to 'poach up' the edges of the pools to reveal insect-rich mud.'

Most Read

Frequent avian visitors to the reserve include green sandpipers, yellow wagtails and hobbies, who are all destined for Southern Europe and Africa.

Emma Brand, a spokesman for the centre, said: 'We had about 30 green sandpipers passing through the other day, and they are gone today.

'As they are flying in the skies they look down to see any pools of water, and then they sweep down. You can see them all feeding in the mud.

'We get extra birds dropping in at this time of year. They are coming from further north, in Scotland and Scandinavia. It's hard to tell if they come back each year, because they are not tagged.'

Have you got a story about nature? Email