The Coastal Creek aviary is closed and the Reedswamp exhibit is undergoing restructuring work. We've had to temporarily restrict some activities, including hand feeding. Find out more here.

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New life & nesting birds to spot this spring

The wetlands are awash with new life and nesting birds this May. Here are some tips of what to look out for during your spring visit.

Nesting Kingfishers

We have two pairs of kingfishers nesting onsite this spring. One pair of kingfishers have been spotted cleaning faecal sacs out of a nesting hole in the artificial bank on the Arun Riverlife lagoon. This indicates they are caring for at least one hatchling in the nest. Watch for them from the Discovery hide - the birds also spend time on the perches out in front of the bank. Below is footage of the kingfisher pair who nested on Arun Riverlife in 2021. They are in this same spot this year. Photo above of a kingfsher bringing fish to feed young is courtesy of visitor Mike Jerome.

A second pair of kingfishers have been using holes in the Sand Martin nesting banks that sit on the large lagoon. The Sand Martin hide windows are closed but you may catch sight of them through the glass.

Swirls of sand martins

Sand martins, swallows and house martins are stopping off at Arundel Wetland Centre now on their way northwards, returning from winter homes in Africa and Europe. Some sand martins stay and use the nesting banks attached to the Sand martin hide to raise chicks. The amount of birds in this small colony has been increasing for the past four years so we hope this number will build again this year. The martins and swallows are easier to see on cloudy days when they hunt the flying insects that are pushed closer to the water by cooler air. Look up while you stand near the Sand martin hide and in the Wildlife garden. The martins are fast fliers!

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Sand martins at the Sand Martin hide nesting bank Photo: WWT

Oystercatcher couples

Two pairs of oystercatchers have arrived onsite again this spring. One pair are nesting on the large island in front of the Coastal Creek aviary. In previous years oystercatchers have nested on the gravelled roof of the Sand martin hide (see clip below), in the open space of the Tundra pen and in the middle of the construction zone for the Pelican Cove exhibit!

The second pair is hanging about the the islands near the Sand martin hide and on the hide's roof.

Look for lapwing chicks

Lapwings have paired up and are nesting on the wet grassland in front of the Lapwing hide and Ramsar hide. Three chicks have been spotted across from the Ramsar hide. The work really starts now for the doting lapwing parents to protect their chick from crows, herons and herring gull predators. The adults give a warning call when danger is spotted and the chicks crouch and freeze, blending into the grass and dirt. The parents fly at any attackers, mobbing them until the threat flies away.

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Lapwing chicks blending in, newly hatched out across from the Ramsar hide Photo: WWT Andy Burns

Greylag goslings, coot chicks and mallard ducklings

It’s the time for spotting fluffy ones of all descriptions across the wetlands. Greylag geese families are wandering the pathways, young goslings in tow nibbling the grass. Mallard ducklings bumble after their mums in the ditches and ponds. Fluffy, black moorhen chicks peep after parents to feed them in the Woodland loop.

In spring what is a treat for our eyes can become a treat for larger wetland birds. Herring gulls, grey herons and birds of prey hunt chicks so it’s natural for them to make off with little ones from the ponds and ditches across the site.

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Want to visit to see what's springing out for yourself?

Spontaneous days out are back and you no longer need to book in advance! But if you'd prefer to book your visit online and save time at the till, click below.