WWT Wetland Centres
The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) is the UK’s leading wetland conservation charity. It was founded by Sir Peter Scott, a British ornithologist, conservationist, painter, naval officer, broadcaster and sportsman, as the Severn Wildfowl Trust in 1946.
Today the trust manages 10 reserves with visitor centres covering over 20 square kilometres and supporting over 150,000 birds. Together they receive over one million yearly visitors who come to enjoy the fantastic bird watching, trails and walks, seasonal events, and outdoor activities for children.
Located at the foot of the South Downs Arundel Wetland Centre is a 65 acre haven for wildlife. Due to the proximity of the Downs, the centre benefits from a water supply that has been naturally filtered through layers of chalk.
Arundel’s lakes, reed beds, channels and waterfalls are home to an abundance of British wildlife including many small birds such as tits and warblers as well as a large number of international wildfowl . The collection of over 1,000 species of ducks, swans and geese includes the rarest goose in the world – the Hawaiian goose.
In the summer you may be lucky enough to spot a kingfisher darting amongst the trees along the river bank, and look up to see kestrels, peregrines and buzzards swooping above you.
Home of BBC’s Autumnwatch 2015, Caerlaverock Wetland Centre is a rugged and beautiful destination offering open space and tranquil wildlife watching.
The centre is famous for its vast flocks of over-wintering water birds, including up to 40,000 barnacle geese from Arctic Svalbard and large numbers of pink-footed geese and whooper swans.
In the summer you can see ospreys and other raptors hunting over the Solway and stay overnight for the chance to see a barn owl.
WWT Castle Espie
The waterfowl collection at Castle Espie is home to the largest collection of ducks, geese and swans in Ireland and many birds are tame enough for you to hand-feed them, giving you the opportunity to see water birds such as the red-breasted goose, goldeneye and rosybill up close.
Castle Espie also has an outdoor duckery which is open all year round to visitors. During the summer months the duckery becomes home to a huge number of duckling, goslings and cygnets, many of which are hand-reared and includes a number of endangered species.
Llanelli Wetland Centre is a 450 acre mosaic of lakes, scrapes, pools, streams and lagoons next to the salt marshes and shore of the scenic Burry Inlet.
Birds gather in vast numbers in the lagoons nearest to the estuary, including black-tailed and bar-tailed godwits, curlew, pintail, shelduck, shoveler, snipe and teal.
Breeding birds on the site include redshank, lapwing, reed warbler and reed bunting and sightings of little egrets and bittern are becoming more frequent.
You will also find some international species at WWT Llanelli including Caribbean flamingos.
Bringing the countryside to the city, London Wetland Centre is just 10 minutes from Hammersmith and is home to hundreds of species of water birds including beautiful American wood ducks, elegant smews and noisy white-face whistling ducks.
On the grazelands expect to see sightings of ringed plovers, dunlin, greenshank, oystercatchers and green and common sandpipers in the spring, while in the autumn migrating raptors such as osprey will be passing through.
The centre includes six hides, perfect for both watching wildlife and photography and is a wonderful place for a relaxing walk through the scenic paths that meander among the lakes and meadows if you need a break from urban life.
WWT Martin Mere
Covering 376 acres, Martin Mere reserve really comes into its own during the winter attracting huge flocks of pink-footed geese and wigeon, whooper swans and rarer visitors such as the snow goose.
You will also find wintering birds of prey such as peregrines, merlins and the endangered hen harrier as well as birds that are part of the breeding programme including cranes and flamingos.
Experience the cacophony of the daily swan feed as up to 2,000 whooper swans gather for food along with thousands of shelduck, wigeon and pintail.
Slimbridge nature reserve provides shelter and food for flocks of swans, geese and ducks in the winter and is an ideal breeding ground for waders in the summer months.
During the late spring, the estuary comes alive with waders including ringed plover, dunlin, sanderling, common sandpiper, curlew, godwits and greenshank .
During winter don’t miss the warden’s commentary as he feeds the thousands of wintering wild birds and hundreds of Bewick’s swans that have flown all the way from arctic Russia to be here.
Washington nature reserve is a wild yet tranquil place where visitors an immerse themselves in a diverse mix of habitats and wildlife across 25 hectares of meadows, woodland, lakes and ponds.
WWT Washington’s saline lagoon is an example of one of the UK’s rarest habitats; wildlife varies across the seasons but birdlife includes breeding oystercatchers, teal and shelduck.
In autumn wading birds, such as greenshank, black-tailed godwit, ruff, whimbrel and snipe, heading south stop to refuel and more than 1,200 migratory curlew swoop down to roost at dusk, one of the largest inland freshwater curlew roosts in the UK.
Set in the heart of the Fens, the reserve is the winter home to 1,000s of swans and ducks from northern Europe and the Arctic, Over 8,000 Bewick’s and whooper swans winter here along with wigeon, lapwing, mallard, pintail, pochard, teal, and plovers.
As flocks of swans finish feeding in the surrounding fields for the day they make their way back to the reserve during dusk creating a beautiful spectacle in the sky and the best opportunity to see the birds in large numbers.
At the bird feeding stations you will see an abundance of colourful garden birds such as goldfinches, blue tits and chaffinches which are joined by a few unusual visitors like bramblings in the winter.