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Wildlife spotting hints and tips

Posted on 30 Nov 2020

For many of us, spotting wildlife is a key part of a visit to WWT Washington, and while our hides are sadly closed, we wanted to give you some great hints and tips on where to spot various wildlife without having to step foot in a hide!

Woodland birds

The Lookout is a large, open bird spotting screen hidden in middle wood. This is around 100m walk from our much-loved Hawthorn hide and offers just as much wildlife action. Bullfinch, great tit, coal tit, willow tit, chaffinch, robin, nuthatch, great-spotted woodpecker, dunnock, long-tailed tit and many seasonal highlights will be flitting around this area, providing fantastic photography opportunities with regularly topped up bird feeders and natural perches, as well as much-need peaceful time in nature.

Our Centre feeders which are just outside our exit doors to the east of site are also regularly visited by many species of woodland birds including bullfinch, great tit, chaffinch, dunnock and more. It can get quite busy with even sparrowhawks descend upon the area to hunt.

Hollowood is a haven for woodland birds. While many visitors use it as a walk-through to other areas of site, if you take the time to stop and listen, you can hear so much calling and song, and you begin to notice that the trees are bustling with life. Treecreeper, wren, blackbird, robin, collared dove and wood pigeon are often around and can be heard and seen.

The relaxing sound of the stream happily trickling through Spring Gill woods and the surrounding meadows is not the only sound here. Many birds frequent the trees around this area with jay squabbling, blackbird calling and many smaller woodland birds calling this place home. Redwing are also around at the moment with dozens spotted daily, calling, flitting and vigorously feeding on berries around the hedgerows and tree lines around all of site! Fieldfare have also been spotted around site too!

South Wood is the area of trees around the dragon fly and amphibian ponds, and is often a great place to see goldcrest. The tall alder trees behind the ponds are showing great siskin numbers at the moment too, definitely one to listen and look for.

The footpath along Wader Lake offers many smaller birds refuge. Goldcrest are often seen here, with various tits, wren, redwing and blackbird all making the most of the seasonal berries on offer.

Waders and water birds

Window on the Wear offers great views of the river Wear, with goldeneye, goosander, grey heron, cormorant, curlew, redshank and various sandpipers often spotted along the shorelines. Kingfisher are also often seen with their vibrant blue plumage often speeding just above the water's surface. High tides do bring Eurasian otter sightings as well as the odd grey seal so watch out for those.

The area around our River Viewpoint (just along from Northumbrian Water hide) also has lovely river views leading both towards the lagoon, and downstream towards the coast. During low tides, you can sometimes see tracks in the mud just below the railings, quite often belonging to otters. Waders like to make the most of the mud during low tides, with birds such as curlew, redshank and black-tailed godwit using their longer bills to hunt for invertebrates and crustaceans beneath the surface.

Saline Lagoon meadow is a great viewpoint to see the lagoon and the wildlife around here. At this time of year, the meadow is often busy with curlew and lapwing, while the lagoon itself welcomes teal, wigeon, mute swans, kingfisher and little egret. We have created a 'look-through' area just beside Lagoon View hide, which offers views of the lagoon and its wildlife a little closer too. Keep an eye out for grey partridge too, as they have been frequently seen around the meadow.

There are many great wildlife moments to be had during the autumn and winter period, so book your tickets and make the most of nature on your doorstep.