Arundel officially opens new aviary for 75th Anniversary

WWT Arundel Wetland Centre celebrated the official opening of the Coastal Creek Aviary and the Pelican Cove exhibit on Thurs 10 June. The evening’s activities also toasted the 75th Anniversary of the Wildfowl &Wetlands Trust and the 45th year since Arundel Wetland Centre first opened.

Kevin Perberdy, CEO of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and Barnaby Briggs, of the WWT Council of Trustees were on hand to greet 30 local supporters of the wetland charity including Tony Hunt, the Mayor of Arundel and Andrew Griffith, MP for Arundel and South Downs and members of the Kleinwort Trust. Kevin Peberdy spoke about the history of the WWT and of Arundel Wetland Centre while Barnaby Briggs spoke about wetland habitat creation and restorations planned for the future.

Arundel Wetland Centre Manager Tim McGregor said “Together with the recently opened Pelican Cove area next door, home to magnificent Dalmatian pelicans, Coastal Creek maximises bird welfare while providing a brilliant experience for visitors, and it’s hopefully the first of more developments to come.”

Guests toured the 40 metre long Coastal Creek aviary, home to sea ducks with a diving tank with underwater views escorted by Head Keeper Samantha Halpin who oversaw the project work of contractors during the lockdown in 2020. Next door the Dalmatian pelicans were a bit lazy in the heat, only catching a few of their fish offered by keepers at their new Pelican Cove exhibit.

However visitors dined on canapés made from Sussex ingredients, followed by trips through the reedbeds on the wetland boat safari to round out the evening of the outdoor special event.

Development timeline

Work on the two exhibits began in Nov 2019 by moving birds and relocating the fish and eels. Tree works began that December and earth moving began in January 2020 after the area had dried out a bit. The Covid 19 pandemic in 2020 temporarily stopped work during the first lockdown but construction resumed in June and finished in December. The deep diving tank and the equipment to flow water around the exhibit and out into the natural treatment reedbed were installed early in 2021.

In Feb 2021 the Collection Team began introducing sea ducks and waders into their new aviary including new species like stunning spectacled eiders. Avocets and redshank were added in late March with the pair of tiny redshank often taking flight around the large netted aviary.