Welney’s swans

We’re visiting Norfolk again; our last chance to say farewell to Nana and Grandad’s house – the house I grew up in. They’re moving out at the end of this week, all being well. Being back has reminded me that when we were here just a few short weeks ago we visited Welney Wetland Centre. It is literally on their doorstep so it seemed like the perfect adventure.

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//image source: Welney Wetland Centre Facebook page//

Every winter swans migrate here in their thousands. They put on a stunning display each evening after dark when the conservation centre staff provide supplementary food. You don’t have to be a wildlife enthusiast or a bird lover to appreciate the drama and beauty, especially as the main hide is enclosed and heated (yeah, this is my type of wild!).

The boys loved it as much as I hoped they would. Feeding time is around 6:30pm so the excitement began simply by leaving in the dark to take the short drive along the bumpy fenland road. This is real isolation for the uninitiated. The boys were busy looking out for the barn owls often seen along this stretch of road but didn’t get lucky on this occasion.

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//image source: Welney Wetland Centre Facebook page//

Nowadays the Welney centre boasts a rather stunning architect-designed eco visitor reception; a far cry from the very humble shed they had back when I used to visit as a child. It was a very windy evening which made the walk across the new bridge that links the centre to the hide even more exciting.

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We’d not told the boys what we’d gone there to see so when they walked into the hide and were faced with swans as far as the eye could see, the gasps were audible. It’s one of those things that you really need to see yourself to appreciate.

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They listened pretty well to what the conservation officer said during her talk, and came up with some thoughtful questions, too. It made me realise, again, just how much Boy1’s confidence has grown and how much more he learns by seeing and doing.

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Boy2 was completely over the moon with the way the swans were fed (with corn from a floating wheelbarrow kept buoyant with a spare tyre). If he doesn’t invent something sometime during his life I’ll be shocked!

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We are lucky to have family living just a couple of miles from this wonderful experience. Given its out-of-the-way location I doubt Welney WWT Centre would be on most people’s to-do list but I urge you to make the effort during the winter months when the swans grace Welney with their presence. My boys came away tired but describing their visit as an ‘exploration’ and an ‘adventure’.

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