The Wash is a vast estuary that stretches for over 100 square miles on the
north west margin of East Anglia, running from Skegness to Hunstanton.
of the largest estuaries in Britain, and offers a rich range of wildlife for nature
|The Wash - rich in wildlife|
This outstanding coastal wetland is made up of huge intertidal banks
of sand and mud, salt marshes, deep channels and shallow waters.
and sandbanks are jam packed with wildlife, feeding on marine life.
the tide is low, huge sandbank islands are revealed, which support a great variety
of wildlife including birds and seals.
One of the best places to appreciate the seals is Seal Island, the
biggest single colony of Common Seals in Europe.
The Wash is full of fish
like cod, herring, mackerel and squid which the seals feast on.
see the seals at close quarters as they haul themselves onto the sand banks for
four or five hours whilst the sand is exposed.
Despite their name Common
Seals are a lot less common in the UK than Grey Seals, and tend to be found on
the eastern coast.
Wildlife watchers can visit the colony all year round,
but the best time to come is June or July when the Seals have just had their pups.
Wash is one of Britain's most important winter feeding areas for waders and wildfowl.
Large numbers of migrant birds such as Grey Plovers, Dunlins, Oystercatchers
and Godwits arrive in the autumn to feed on the rich supplies of foods found in
the sands and mudflats.
The best time to see large flocks of waders is
on a rising tide between September and early May.
The Wash National Nature
Reserve is accessible by the Peter Scott Walk.
Many sites away from the
footpath on the sea wall are extremely dangerous and should only be explored with
an experienced local guide.
The Wash has a number of other habitats of conservation significance,
including saline lagoons, shingle structures and dune complexes.
area of The Wash which boasts a wealth of wildlife is Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve
with a variety of scenery ranging from sand-dunes and salt marshes to sandy shores.
This unspoilt coastline on the Lincolnshire coast has important communities
of plants, animals and wintering birds.
Oyster catchers and waders have
made their home on the mudflats.
The Wash Study Centre, run by Lincolnshire
Wildlife Trust, runs events and activities in the Gibraltar Point area throughout
Snettisham Nature Reserve is a great place to witness one of
the UK's great wildlife spectacles.
During a high tide, wading birds are
pushed off their feeding grounds on the vast mudflats of The Wash to roost on
the shingle banks and islands in the gravel pits in the reserve just in front
of the RSPB hides.
A great time to visit is in the middle of winter at
dawn or dusk when you can see of thousands of pink-footed geese in flight, flocking
between their safe roost site on The Wash and farmland inland where they feed
on the aftermath of the sugar beet harvest.
In the summer, large numbers
of common terns and black-headed gulls nest on the reserve and there is a spectacular
display of shingle flowers.
The RSPB produces 'Birdwatcher' tide tables
which include details of the best tides for watching roosting wading birds and
the best phases of the moon for seeing winter wild geese flights. Priced 50p,
it can be obtained from the RSPB.
Safety Note - Keep to paths and
do not stray into areas where they may be quicksand and dangerous tidal conditions.
Visitors are advised to stay on the seawall.