Our centre is now open - please be aware when planning your visit that part of our site remains closed for now. There will be no otter or flamingo talks and we are currently unable to allow any feeding of our birds - read more and plan your visit here.

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Falcated ducks show off their plumage!

Falcated ducks show off their plumage!

It's been almost 7 month since our falcated ducks hatched in our specialist on-site duckery, but oh how grown up they've become! Our falcated ducks have gone through quite a transformation since hatching in early July last year (2021). Their fluffy downy feathers were incredibly cute and while they had subtle differences to other ducklings, they appeared to most to be the traditional yellow and brown ducklings that you would expect to see from many other duck species. BUT, their true plumage comes through once they reach adulthood and, at 6 months old, the plumage of the male of the species truly come into its own. Closely related to gadwall and of similar size, falcated ducks are are dabbling ducks, so you can regularly see them ducking their heads underwater with their bottoms in the air searching for food under the surface of ponds and lakes. Appearance The females, like many duck species, are a variation of neutral browns with a slightly darker head and pale neck line. The males show an impressive iridescent "crown" with colours of copper and green. Their long 'tertials', (flight feathers) at the bottom of their wings are long, almost hook-shaped. They raise their crest when flirting with females, which makes for very impressive viewing and generally they provide fantastic photo opportunities. Where to view falcated ducks at WWT Washington Our falcated ducks are in Close Encounters, which is a 2 minute walk from the visitor centre. Alongside our resident common eiders, red shovelers, smew, goldeneye and black swans, they make a fantastic addition to this busy exhibit. They're very placid and friendly often found near the waterfall - the team think this may disturb the mud in that area and bring up tasty insects to snack on! In the wild These birds breed in many parts of east Asia, including Russia, China and Japan, wintering in southeast India. There is some conservation work being carried out for this species by various organisations. Like many species, they face threats in the wild due to hunting and habitat loss and are classed as near threatened. There is some positive news that their numbers for now appear to be stable, so fingers crossed things stay this way! We'd love to see your photos of our falcated ducks, so feel free to share them with us on social media @wwtwashington

COMING SOON - LEGO® Brick Wetland Safari and workshops

COMING SOON - LEGO® Brick Wetland Safari and workshops

**COMING SOON**We're incredibly excited to announce that our popular LEGO® Brick trail will be returning this spring! Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for exciting news about our LEGO brick trail, plus fun, interactive workshops.Be the first to hear about our LEGO® workshopsSign up to hear when our popular workshops will be going live for booking!I WANT TO HEAR FIRST

Make a splash at the North East Puddle Jumping Championships!

Make a splash at the North East Puddle Jumping Championships!

Who will make the biggest splash and be a Puddle Jumping Champion? Join us this February half-term at Washington Wetland Centre, as children and adults alike grab their wellies, get outside and take part in our annual puddle jumping championships – guaranteed fun whatever the North East weather! Warm up in the puddle jumping practice zone before challenging your family and friends to a race around our Welly Boot Camp obstacle course, complete with a splashtastic puddle jumping finale to show off your creativity. Take a shot at our welly shy or frog-themed bean bag toss – who will score the most points? – before having a go at hands-on crafts in the Discovery Centre. What better way to blow away the winter cobwebs and release everyday stress than having a splashing day out together? WWT Washington centre manager Gill Pipes said: “We know that people love nothing more than to splash in puddles, so we’re giving visitors of all ages the chance to channel their inner splasher and enjoy some gentle competition with this fun event. “We also believe that children who love puddles can grow up to be adults that love the outdoors, so through these championships we’re gently nurturing a passion that may help protect wetlands and the wildlife that depends on them for years to come.” The event is self-led throughout the day during February half-term (Sat 19-Sun 27 Feb), just pick up an activity guide at the admissions desk and have a splashingly good time. Look out for a fab competition to enter too! Puddle jumping is included as part of normal admission or free for WWT members (small cost for crafts). Admission tickets can be pre-booked here https://bit.ly/WAadmission Share your splashes at #puddlejumping

Centre is now open as of 1 Jan 2022

Centre is now open as of 1 Jan 2022

We are pleased to that we are now reopen as of Saturday 1 January 2022 and can’t wait to welcome you back. We’ve have been working with the relevant government agencies and taking measures to protect our birds and to prevent the spread of the disease after avian influenza was confirmed in one of our exhibits. Protecting the birds in our care and those seeking winter refuge on our reserve remains our utmost priority. Whilst we are very pleased to be able to open again to visitors, one small section of our site must remain closed temporarily (see map below for details). This is a UK Government requirement to help us protect the birds here and prevent the spread of avian influenza. Please rest assured that our expert team are continuing to take very good care of all of our animals, including our flamingos and other birds within the closed section. Visitors can still see our other birds and family of Asian short clawed otters and our wild reserve is open as usual with access to Wader Lake, saline lagoon and Hawthorn Wood hides. Read our winter highlights blog for some ideas on places to go and wildlife to look out for during your visit. We have created a map of suggested routes so you can still enjoy our site at this wonderful time of year (shown below) and this can be picked up at our admissions desk. We also have some free spotters guides at admissions which showcase the wild birds you can see across site. Our café will be open with a selection of hot and cold drinks and snacks and our gift shop is also open. We can’t wait to see you all and would like to thank everyone once again for your kindness and support. Read more about Avian Influenza on the UK Government website(Please note that for the meantime, there will be no otter or flamingo talks and we are currently unable to allow any feeding of our birds)

Winter wildlife spotting hints and tips

Winter wildlife spotting hints and tips

Winter in our wetlands is a truly wonderful place. Leaf-bare trees provide fantastic views of flitting woodland birds, while waders forage and feast in our many lakes, ponds and streams Below are some hints and tips on how and where to see the various fauna that calls our wetlands home this winter Woodland wildlife Hawthorn Wood hide is nestled on the edge of the woods and enjoys fantastic views of various birds including great-spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, chaffinch, blue tit, bullfinch and many more. Our feeders are topped up regularly all year round and many birds flit and forage around the trees and on the ground for food. Now is a great time of year to spot flocking long-tailed tit, siskin and redpoll who make the most of the feeders. The Lookout is a large, open bird-spotting screen hidden in middle wood. This is about 100m walk from our much-loved Hawthorn Wood hide and offers just as much wildlife action. Bullfinch, great tit, coal tit, willow tit, chaffinch, robin, nuthatch, great-spotted woodpecker, dunnock and many seasonal highlights happily flit around this area, providing fantastic photography opportunities with regularly topped-up bird feeders and natural perches, as well as some peaceful time in nature. Our centre feeders – just outside the building’s exit doors to the east of site – are regularly visited by many species of woodland bird including bullfinch, great tit, chaffinch, dunnock and more. It can get quite busy, with opportunistic sparrowhawk known to descend upon the area to hunt. Hollowood is a haven for woodland birds too. While many visitors use it simply as a walk-through to other areas, 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 both heard and seen regularly. The lack of leaves on trees offers more opportunity to great views, so eyes peeled! Spring Gill woods and the surrounding meadows enjoys wonderful sights and sounds of winter wildlife. The calming sounds of the stream adds to the atmosphere while many birds frequent the tree tops with jay squabbling, blackbird calling and other over-wintering thrushes such as redwing and fieldfare search for berries. Roe deer pass through here too, so keep an eye out for those bright white rumps bounding through the trees! Waders and water birds Wader Lake wildlife hides offer a fantastic place to watch wading birds. The heron hedge opposite Paddy Fleming and Diageo hides is a great one to keep an eye on at this time of year, with the hopes that grey heron will begin to frolick and nest in January. Exciting views of snipe, teal, wigeon, shoveler and curlew are not to be missed at this time of year. Northumbrian Water hide overlooks the lake with Wader meadow right beside it where many geese and red-listed lapwing can be seen. Look out for mistle thrush on the meadow too! Window on the Wear affords great views of the river Wear, with goosander, grey heron, cormorant, curlew, redshank and various sandpipers often spotted by the shoreline.Mute swan can be seen and kingfisher too; their vibrant blue plumage speeding along just above the water's surface. High tides sometimes 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) has lovely views up to the saline lagoon and downstream towards the coast. During low tide, you may see tracks in the mud just below the railings, quite often belonging to otter. Waders like to make the most of the exposed mud, with species such as curlew and redshank using their longer bills to hunt for invertebrates and crustaceans beneath the surface. Saline Lagoon hide is a great spot to sit and enjoy this unique habitat and its incredible wildlife. At this time of year, the lagoon welcomes teal, shoveler and shelduck as well as elusive kingfisher that perch on the various branches around the lagoon. There are so many amazing wildlife moments to be had during the winter months. It's a great time to explore new routes, spot new wildlife and absorb all that nature on your doorstep has to offer!

Avian influenza - centre update

Avian influenza - centre update

Cases of avian influenza are widespread in Great Britain and we have sadly had a confirmed case in our collection birds at Washington Wetland Centre. We are working with the relevant government agencies and are taking measures to prevent the spread of the disease. We will be reopening to visitors early in the new year. Once we open the centre, some areas of our animal collection will remain closed. This is a UK Government requirement to help us protect the birds here and prevent the spread of avian influenza amongst them. Our wild reserve will be open as usual with normal access to Wader Lake, saline lagoon and Hawthorn Wood hides. We know it may be disappointing not to be able to see some of our collection animals, but there will still be some fantastic sights to see and birds to find out on our reserve. We will share further opening information as soon as we are able to. Read more about Avian Influenza on the UK Government website

Give the gift that gives back to nature this Christmas

Give the gift that gives back to nature this Christmas

Make WWT gift membership top of your list this festive season

The art in autumn leaves

The art in autumn leaves

Autumn is the time of year we see a dramatic change of colour within nature. But the science behind it is really quite clever...

75-year milestone for WWT

75-year milestone for WWT

From saving birds from extinction to creating amazing nature-friendly habitats, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) – parent charity of Washington Wetland Centre – today celebrates 75 years of ground breaking conservation work and sharing the wonders of wetlands with more than 40 million visitors across the UK. Described by Sir David Attenborough as the “patron saint of conservation”, Sir Peter Scott founded WWT on the banks of the River Severn in 1946 with just 1,000 members and one site at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire. Since then, the charity has grown to ten UK sites, while creating and protecting thousands more hectares of wetlands around the world, supported by some 180,000 members. Here at Washington Wetland Centre, Sir Peter achieved his goal of bringing wetlands into an urban environment for the benefit of both wildlife and humans, opening our doors in May 1975. Today, we are home to 42 hectares of diverse habitats supporting a range of incredible wildlife and have engaged some 2.5 million visitors and 250,000 schoolchildren across the North East in the vital work that we do. Read more about our achievements to date here. WWT Chief Operating Officer, Kevin Peberdy, said: “Sir Peter Scott was an extraordinary man and in 1946 he had a vision – to create a safe haven for wild birds while at the same time bringing people closer to nature. “He understood that people and nature are part of the same intertwined ecosystem. He realised – ahead of his time – that our wealth, our health and our emotional wellbeing all depend on the natural world. He appreciated that showing people how amazing wetland nature is can ignite a passion to preserve it. “At WWT today we still hold these principals at the heart of everything we do. We may be a much larger charity than we were when we started back in 1946, but we still believe fervently in wetlands and what they can do – for wildlife and for humans, and increasingly for the planet. “If rainforests are the lungs of the planet, then wetlands are the lifeblood. As much as we need air to breathe, we need water to live. The conservation of our wetlands is essential to life on Earth.” Building on the passion of Sir Peter, WWT is now drawing on seven decades of experience to ensure wetlands are centre stage in the fight to meet global challenges. It aims to inspire one million people to take action for wetlands by spreading the word about the many benefits of these amazing habitats, not just for wildlife but for people’s everyday lives. The charity plans to achieve this through international conservation projects and its Wetlands Can! campaign. This focuses on the creation of 100,000 hectares of healthy wetlands across the UK to help combat the nature, climate, and mental health crises. WWT is calling for a ‘blue recovery’, where this ambition is incorporated into national and international policies to protect the planet, including strategies to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In its 75 years, WWT has had a huge number of achievements and hit many milestones. These include: Restoring and creating wetlands on every continent and along critical global flywaysBuilding a global network of over 350 wetland sites and organisations that share WWT’s passion for wetland protection and engagementWorking on action plans for over 30 threatened and declining wetland species and the wetlands on which they dependThrough understanding their value for wetland birds, helping protect over 700,000 hectares of the UK’s most important wetlandsHelping more than two million children to discover the magic of wetland wildlifeProviding a safe haven for 15 million migratory birds spending the winter at our UK sites “When we look back we realise what an enormous amount we have achieved”, added Kevin. “But of course the work isn’t done and we now look forward to taking Peter Scott’s philosophy of creating a world where healthy nature thrives and enriches all of our lives and applying it to the situation today. “None of this would be achievable without our incredible staff, volunteers and supporters and it is them I would like to thank as we join millions of other people around the world to work to ensure the future of the planet. “It won’t be easy but all of us here at WWT will think of our remarkable founder Peter Scott as we try to do our best for the wildlife and the habitats that he so loved.”

Top 10 things to do this Autumn at WWT Washington

Top 10 things to do this Autumn at WWT Washington

With the leaves turning those classic gorgeous oranges and browns and seasonal wildlife on the move, autumn is truly a spectacular time to explore WWT Washington. Check out our Top 10 tips for things to do

Elf Academy - recruiting at WWT Washington!

Elf Academy - recruiting at WWT Washington!

Help spread the festive cheer this December

Gift donation as part of Elf Academy

Gift donation as part of Elf Academy

As part of our Elf Academy Christmas event, we ask young recruits to bring along a pre-loved gift, toy or book in good condition that can be donated to local children's charities. This is a fantastic and eco-friendly way for us to show our support for these amazing organisations during a particularly difficult time. And it's also a great lesson for Elf Academy recruits to learn about the spirit of kindness and generosity.The donation forms part of the overall experience, with the recruits learning to wrap and label their own gift. Our Head Elf (AKA learning manager Joanne!) then takes them to our chosen charity - most recently several women's refuges and Barnardo's - where they help to make a huge difference to someone's Christmas.

We are open but some areas closed due to flood damage

We are open but some areas closed due to flood damage

While we will be open for visitors, there are a couple of areas that will remain closed due to flood damage.

Exploring our wetlands in the rain

Exploring our wetlands in the rain

Have a wild adventure whatever the weather

Kingfisher hints and tips of where to spot one!

Kingfisher hints and tips of where to spot one!

With increased sightings of this vibrant yet elusive bird, here's some tips on where best to spot them!