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Birdwatchers get in a flap as rare squacco heron flies in to WWT Welney

Posted on 02 Jul 2012

Squacco heron by Chris Baines
Squacco heron by Chris Baines

Birders have been gathering at WWT Welney in Norfolk this week to see an extremely rare squacco heron which arrived on the weekend.  The reason why it has turned up in the UK is unknown as these birds normally spend the summer in Southern Europe.

This record is the second for the site at Welney and one of only a handful for the county.  Squacco herons breed mainly in Eastern Europe with a few sporadic sites in Spain and France.

Warden, Steve Wiltshire, commented: “It is always exciting to see a rarity on site but this particular individual is a very striking bird in its full breeding plumage.  The breezy weather over the weekend meant that the plume of feathers on the back of the neck has been in full flow”.

“The bird has been making itself at home in the shallow flooded washes in full view of our reedbed hide and seems quite content fishing in the ditches amongst all the other birds”.

At the end of the weekend the bird was moving further South along the reserve so the team are hoping to partially open the summer walk during the week to allow access for visitors to continue looking for it.

WWT Welney is open 7 days a week, (except 25 December) from 9.30am to 5.00pm during the summer.  The centre is the perfect place to explore the open landscape of the Fens as much of the area once looked.  Flooding of the Ouse washes provides essential feeding and breeding grounds for birds, insects, amphibians, reptiles and mammals such as the water vole.  The eco-friendly visitor centre has an excellent cafe, gift shop with elevated views of the Fen landscape complete with family friendly and disabled facilities including buggy access, wheelchairs and mobility scooters for hire.

To check on the latest status of the heron and all our other sightings  on our wildlife sightings page here.