Washington lies on the banks of River Wear between Newcastle and Sunderland and provides an inspirational example of how sound conservation management allows wildlife to thrive even in the midst of urbanisation and of the benefits a green and tranquil place brings to urban communities.
The centre gets its distinctive feel from its groves of ancient and plantation woodland, the oldest of which, Spring Gill Wood, is carpeted with bluebells and wood sorrel in spring.
Water for the neighbouring ponds and wetlands is cleaned by one of the centre’s two reedbeds.
The other is a breeding and feeding haven for reed buntings (a national priority bird), reed warblers, sedge warblers and a variety of dragonflies, as well as invertebrates and amphibians.
The site’s largest body of water is Wader Lake – a premier viewing point for shoveler, tufted duck, oystercatcher, lapwing, redshank, little ringed plover, curlew, common tern and, recently, avocet.
One of the North East’s largest heronries can be seen across the lake and grey herons often visit the nearby stretch of river.
Among the site’s exotic waterbirds are pink Chilean flamingos and Eurasian cranes, a bird which became extinct in Britain 400 years ago but is now poised for reintroduction.
- Bee orchids
- Grey herons
- Reed bunting
- Song birds