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‘The natural environment doesn’t stop for coronavirus’ - Birds return to reserve to breed

PUBLISHED: 14:54 27 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:47 28 April 2020

Essential conservation work continues at Welney Wetland Centre, despite being closed due to the coronavirus. Picture: Kim Tarsey

Essential conservation work continues at Welney Wetland Centre, despite being closed due to the coronavirus. Picture: Kim Tarsey

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A Norfolk nature reserve is a “hive of activity” as birds and animals return for nesting during spring.

Essential conservation work continues at Welney Wetland Centre, despite being closed due to the coronavirus. Picture: Georgette TaylorEssential conservation work continues at Welney Wetland Centre, despite being closed due to the coronavirus. Picture: Georgette Taylor

Essential conservation work at Welney Wetland Centre, near Wisbech, is carrying on as nature continues and birds, insects and plants emerge, with warm and sunny days signalling them to become active.

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WTT) site, which has been closed due to the coronavirus, has seen wading birds, such as black-tailed godwit, lapwing, snipe, redshank, avocet and little ringed plover, setting up territories and laying eggs.

Duck breeds such as garganey, shoveler, teal, tufted duck and mallard are also finding safe locations to nest.

Emma Brand, events and marketing officer, said: “While it is a highly unusual spring for people, nature is still able to go about getting ready for one of the busiest seasons – spring.

Essential conservation work continues at Welney Wetland Centre, despite being closed due to the coronavirus. Pictured: Centre manager, Leigh Marshall. Picture: Leigh MarshallEssential conservation work continues at Welney Wetland Centre, despite being closed due to the coronavirus. Pictured: Centre manager, Leigh Marshall. Picture: Leigh Marshall

“This constant in our lives is what we need during such a strange time, to give us focus.

“Water levels have been dropping since the winter flooding, making the wet grassland ready for all the ground-nesting birds that rely on wetlands to breed.”

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The centre’s reduced team has been managing water in ditches and pools to ensure muddy areas are kept wet and insect-rich for the chicks to feed in once they have hatched.

Essential conservation work continues at Welney Wetland Centre, despite being closed due to the coronavirus. Picture: Emma BrandEssential conservation work continues at Welney Wetland Centre, despite being closed due to the coronavirus. Picture: Emma Brand

Leigh Marshall, centre manager, said: “Spring is an incredibly exciting time of year with birds, insects and plants all starting to look their best.

“The herds of cattle coming back onto the reserve make it even more of a hive of activity.

“But this spring Welney isn’t feeling like itself and the reason for that is the absence of people.

“The team of incredible staff and volunteers and the members and supporters who get to enjoy it when they visit make Welney what it is.

Essential conservation work continues at Welney Wetland Centre, despite being closed due to the coronavirus. Picture: Leigh MarshallEssential conservation work continues at Welney Wetland Centre, despite being closed due to the coronavirus. Picture: Leigh Marshall

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“During my daily essential checks maintaining the site, it is really clear how different this is to how we normally operate, and wanting to share this with people but not being able to is the hardest part of carrying on through this crisis.

“We need the support of people to make sure we can continue to care for wetlands and wildlife, as the natural environment doesn’t stop for coronavirus.”

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