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Each season brings a different experience at our nature reserves. In spring, the air is filled with birdsong as they compete to establish territories and attract a mate. In summer, look out for young birds making their first venture into the outside world. Autumn brings large movements of migrating birds - some heading south to a warmer climate, others seeking refuge in the UK from the cold Arctic winter. In winter, look out for large flocks of birds gathering to feed, or flying at dusk to form large roosts to keep warm.
Spring is an exciting time of the year, bringing the return of breeding waders and wildfowl and the passage of migrants such as ruffs and hundreds of Iceland-bound black-tailed godwits. Lapwings, snipe and redshanks breed in large numbers, along with mallards, gadwalls, shovelers, tufted ducks, shelducks and mute swans. The birds are visible from any of the 10 hides, and you will have the added pleasure of hearing their many calls while they perform their courtship displays.
The summer is a difficult time to view birds due to the long grass on the reserve. However, you will be able to see mute swans with their cygnets and broods of mallards and tufted ducks in the ditches. Yellow wagtails can be seen on the banks very close to the hides and you could catch a glimpse of a kingfisher on one of the rivers. Marsh harriers sail past the hides and little egrets, hobbies and barn owls are a regular sight. Dragonflies can been seen on the rivers along with butterflies and many species of wildflowers and grasses.
The beginning of the autumn is usually a quiet time for birds on the washes. It is the beginning of the transitional period for migrating birds to leave for warm climates and the return of wildfowl from northern Europe and Russia. The real action starts at the end of October with the return of migrating wildfowl, and the first of the Bewick's swans returning from northern Europe.
The winter months can host some of the most spectacular birding opportunities available in the eastern region. When water levels are ideal, the reserve maintains 100,000 wildfowl and waders.
You can expect to see whooper and Bewick's swans which have journeyed from Iceland and northern Europe. Ducks include large flocks of grazing wigeons; mallards, pintails, shovelers, and gadwalls will be seen feeding in shallow waters along with teals hiding in the longer vegetation. Tufted ducks and coots dive for food in deeper areas.
Large numbers of waders use the washes as well, including lapwings, golden plovers and black-tailed godwits (Saturdays can be subject to shooting disturbance on private land). Hen harriers, short-eared owls, peregrines and merlins hunt over the washes and surrounding farmland.