Threat to nesting birds in parts of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire as Welney and Ouse Washes flood

Black-tailed Godwit and snipe could suffer as wetlands remain flooded

Flooding has meant the loss of nests for several species of wading birds at both Welney and in the Ouse Wash network.

High water levels mean ground usually dry at this time of year is under feet of water, and birds such as the lowland snipe which nest on the ground in wetland areas, are struggling.

This year's unprecedented April rainfall has see A1101 closed at Welney much later than usual as the land belonging to the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) is flooded.

Several species, including the black-tailed Godwit and avocet rely on being able to nest on dry areas within the wetland which provides a food source for chicks.

Even the resident mute swans at Welney may be forced to skip breeding this year as they are unlikely to lay again if their nests have been washed away or flooded.

The Environment Agency has also had to pump water onto the Ouse Washes network in Cambridgeshire where snipe habitually nest.

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'It is looking like one massive inland lake,' said Emma Brand, of the WWT at Welney.

'The whole lot is flooded, although we do have Lady Fen and Bank Farm which are areas not under water and some of the birds will nest on there instead this year,' she said.

But some birds, including the mute swans, invest so much energy in nest-building and laying eggs that if their efforts are in vain they may not have a second go in the same year.

'It is still quite early, so there is time for them but some may not bother for a second time,' said Ms Brand.

Other species such as the avocet and red-shank may leave the area they traditionally nest in to find drier ground.

The A1101 was closed on Friday as water levels rose at Welney and a spokesman for the Environment Agency said it would remain shut for 'several days' as the flood plain was needed to accommodate the huge amount of rainfall.

'Some areas have had close to 300pc of the normal amount,' said a spokesman.

Meanwhile the resident Whooper swans Romeo and Julietta have remained at Welney and their cygnet has not migrated to Iceland with the other birds but has stayed with its parents.

The young bird is the first to have been raised in Norfolk since 1928. Romeo had stayed with his injured partner last year in a show of devotion, but he too was injured and neither are now able to fly to Iceland which is the traditional breeding ground.

Staff at Welney did not know if the cygnet, the sex of which is still unknown, would fly off when the Whoopers left a few weeks ago but it looks set to stay.

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