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Swans head to the Fens from their summer homes in Artic Russia and Iceland

Visitors to WWT Welney on the Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border will again be able to see thousands of swans return to the area after completing incredible journeys from their summer homes in Arctic Russia and Iceland. The wetland site is putting on a range of events to allow people to get closer to the swans and witness what is widely believed to be one of the season’s most spectacular events in UK nature.

Whooper swans from Iceland far outnumber the much rarer Bewick’s swans from Arctic Russia, but this is one of the few places where these winter travellers can be seen side by side along with our native mute swans.

After spending their summers in the far north, pairs who have successfully bred have now shown their cygnets the migration for the first time.

Along with daily commented swan feeds, there will also be weekend events where visitors can watch these beautiful birds in a special setting.

WE-Bob Ellis-Whooper swans on Lady fen wetland. PHOTO Bob Ellis

Whooper swans on Lady fen wetland. PHOTO Bob Ellis

On Saturday and Sunday evenings, the site is hosting Floodlit Swan Feeds where, from the comfort of a warm hide, people can witness the birds flying in at dusk to have their last meal of the day. And on selected dates throughout winter, early risers can watch the birds waking up on the wetlands with one of the reserve’s wardens.

Whilst the swans are the stars of the show, there is much more to enjoy. From flocks of red-headed pochard ducks, to shoals of wading birds like godwits and plovers and the captivating views of birds of prey with harriers and owls.

Or you can take a walk with a guide to encounter charismatic hares and deer that also call these wetlands home.

Emma Brand, events and marketing officer said: “Winter is such an incredible time for the wetlands at WWT Welney. Thousands of birds arriving for winter mean it is the busiest time of year for numbers of wildlife.

Whooper swans on water PHOTO: Steve Jones

Whooper swans on water PHOTO: Steve Jones

“The daily coming and going of swans as they fly out to fields and return to roost is a familiar routine for the people living and working around the Ouse Washes landscape. Sharing this spectacle with visitors is a huge part of the work the staff and volunteers enjoy most about this time of year.”

Welney is open daily 10am-4pm Monday to Friday, 10am-7.30pm Saturday and Sundays for winter. Only closing on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Dates for the diary (

Swans awake morning events:
Sat 16, Sun 17 December
Sat 20, Sun 21 January
Sat 3, Sun 4 February
Sat 17, Sun 18 February

Swan feeds:
1 November – 29 February, 12noon & 3.30pm daily
4 November – 25 February, 6.30pm on Saturdays & Sunday only

Find out more:

 About WWT Welney:

  • WWT Welney Wetland Centre is open all year except Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
  • WWT Welney manages over 1,300 acres of wetland habitat on and around the Ouse washes.  These wetlands are internationally important for many species of wintering wildfowl and nationally important as summer breeding grounds.
  • We put people at the heart of all our work because conservation needs support to succeed.
  • WWT Welney is largely accessible to all with buggy and wheelchair friendly pathways, comfortable hides and disabled and parent & baby facilities.
  • WWT members enjoy free access to all ten wetland centres and are kept up to date with developments through an award-winning quarterly magazine, Waterlife.


  • Our natural world is in trouble. But, at WWT, we know there’s a wondrous solution. You’ll find it wherever water meets land.
  • Wetlands are super-powered ecosystems. But we are losing them at a staggering rate. These wildlife-teeming, flood-buffering, water-purifying, mood-lifting, carbon-sinking habitats need our help.
  • Whooper swans display on ice.  PHOTO:  Simon Stirrup

    Whooper swans display on ice. PHOTO: Simon Stirrup

  • That’s why we’re on a mission to restore wetlands and empower everyone to do the same. From getting muddy outdoors and taking action, to forming partnerships at a scale we’ve not seen before and rallying governments worldwide, we’re leading the way. We’re sharing the wonders of wetlands and building a global community of nature lovers who will champion wetlands and help wildlife bounce back.
  • WWT is a charity that is actively restoring wetlands in the UK and globally. But we can’t do it alone. Every action we take together, large, or small, will help wetlands burst with life once more. Because when wetlands flourish, all life will flourish.


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