Brand new habitat for our wintering birds at Welney

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Eight years in the making, a new wetland habitat area at WWT Welney Wetland Centre has finally been completed after almost a decade of work, and will soon provide a more stable home for wintering birds.

Lady Fen was made possible thanks to a partnership project between the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), Waste Recycling Environmental Limited (WREN) and the Environment Agency.

Leigh Marshall, centre manager at WWT Welney, said: “We are delighted that our partnership with WREN and the Environment Agency has worked so well in providing this extra wildlife habitat.

This habitat will support some of the rarest wading birds in the UK and give them the best chance to increase their population!”

The wetland creation started in 2006 with the first 38 hectares, this most recent section takes the total area of the wetland habitat to 114 hectares. This is in addition to the traditional reserve which lies on the Ouse Washes.

The increased periods of deeper and more prolonged flooding of recent years on the Ouse Washes have had a detrimental effect on the condition and availability of the habitat for wetland wildlife.

This new area will create a more stable wetland habitat with no chance that it will flood uncontrollably.

This will provide the perfect site for wintering birds like Bewick’s swans and wigeon to roost and feed, additional waterways for water voles to colonise and vital areas for rare breeding waders, such as black-tailed godwits, to raise their chicks during the summer months.

The most dramatic difference has been putting the overhead power lines that ran through this section of land underground.

This was a vital step in the creation of these wetlands in order to encourage swans to use this area, because power lines pose a threat to swans when they are flying in low light conditions.

Julie Foley, the area manager for the Environment Agency, said: “It’s been a pleasure to work with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Welney over many years and to see the land change into a valuable wetland habitat that is attracting internationally important birdlife.”

Lisa Green, programme manager for WREN’s Biodiversity Action Fund said: “WREN is very happy to help fund a project that will restore and revive some of the UK’s most threatened habitats.

“The Trust’s project has created valuable wetland to benefit wintering wildfowl and breeding waders and enhance the enjoyment of the site’s many visitors.”