Spring is in the air at Welney Wetland Centre

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Spring is a time of year to be celebrated as an incredible array of wildlife returns to the UK for summer or emerges from their winter hideaways.

The race is then on to find a mate and produce the next generation.

Warmer days and longer hours of sunshine are the key ingredients for plant growth which results in the wetland habitat coming alive with insects and birds.

From tiny beetles and bees to towering great white egrets, there is so much to discover.

The first herds of cattle are returning to the reserve to start the process of grazing the vegetation for summer.

This keeps the grasses low, exposing the insects needed for birds to feed their young, more insects are made available when the cows walk through the muddy areas by the water’s edge.

The insects themselves benefit from the dung that the cows produce give them somewhere to lay their eggs.

All this activity around the herds of cattle attract insect feeding birds like house martins and swallows that swoop and weave through, catching food in flight.

Whilst brightly coloured yellow wagtail follow the cows on foot picking off any insects disturbed from the grasses.

One of the most striking birds to return for summer are the avocets with their bold, monochrome plumage.

But WWT Welney is not just a destination for birds, it is also used as a refuelling station for some species who have further to go.

Recent sightings of spoonbill, sandwich tern and ring ouzel add excitement to a day’s bird watching.

The variety of insect life is much wider than the species of bird and you can get much closer to many of them as they can be found along the footpaths or at the pond-dipping stations.

WWT Welney offers the perfect location to begin discovering the natural world, with facilities that enable visitors to connect with wetland wildlife and the fantastic landscape of the Ouse Washes.