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Welney Marshes

The team are at Welney Wildlife Reserve in Norfolk. Charlotte Smith helps out with the international swan census, and Sean Fletcher hears how mini donkeys are helping residents of a Welney care home.

The team are at Welney Wildlife Reserve in Norfolk. Thousands of birds flock to this wetland as it offers the perfect spot to roost, feed and shelter over the winter months. And January is a big month in the swan world as the international swan census takes place. Charlotte Smith helps out with the count.

Steve Brown is on the trail of the elusive cranes that live in the washes around Welney. Margherita Taylor sees how the reserve's staff control flooding on the wetlands, and Sean Fletcher hears how mini donkeys are helping residents of a Welney care home. Tom Heap investigates the threat posed by the alien species making their way to our shores, and Adam Henson has designs on his own mini wetland down on the farm as he starts creating a dewpond.

54 minutes

Last on

Tue 21 Jan 2020 04:00

Swan Census

Swan Census

Wintertime at Welney is a wildlife wonderland.

Thousands of birds flock to this wetland reserve, as it offers the perfect spot to roost, feed and shelter during the winter months. 

As early morning is the very best time to spot them, Charlotte has an early start so she can take part in the International Swan Census.

Every five years, volunteers from 20 different countries around the world head into the wild to count the swans.

To get this census completed, Charlotte is accompanied by Kane Brides from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, who guides her through this giant bird count.

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Crane Spotting

Crane Spotting

Cranes were once a common sight in Britain but they were driven to extinction in the 16th century through over-hunting and loss of habitat.

With a bit of careful wetland management though, breeding pairs begin to return to Norfolk in the 1970s.

Steve meets Norman Sills, who is a former RSPB reserve manager instrumental in re-creating the habitat that drew the cranes back to the Fens.

Norman has followed the Fenland cranes since they first returned and he’s devised his own way of keeping tabs on who’s who…by sketching them and their individual markings.

Invasive Species

Invasive Species
Tom investigates the threat posed by invasive species making their way to our shores.These are the flora and fauna that aren’t native to the UK but have been brought here – deliberately or otherwise – only to end up threatening the environment, other species… or even us! He meets Steve Trewhella, naturalist and author, who has found all sorts of creatures - from Caribbean Columbus crabs to Florida rock snails - washing up on Chesil Cove beach in Dorset.And at the Yealm Estuary in Devon, marine biologist Anna Yunnie shows Tom the pacific oysters that are now dominating their habitat.Many non-native species make their way into the UK attached to ships hulls - but Tor Ostervold is cleaning up the shipping industry's act with a robotic "lawnmower" that sucks off all sorts of critters that have hitched a lift into our waters.

Feathered Friends

Feathered Friends
Here, the area known as the Ouse Washes is designed to provide a vital flood overflow area to protect thousands of people and homes.But, with flooding happening at higher and higher levels, some key wetland species are being displaced, such as lapwing and black-tailed godwit.Margherita meets Leigh Marshall, who heads up the Welney Wetland Centre.In the past ten years, Leigh's overseen a massive project to create Lady Fen – a brand new habitat specifically designed for wetland waders.Hidden beneath the ground is a network of pumps and drains, allowing Leigh and his team to precisely control the water levels.And it’s working. They now have more than 200 breeding pairs of waders, as well as lots of other wildlife.

Mini-Donkeys

Mini-Donkeys

Welney is a place full of wildlife and beauty.  But imagine if you couldn’t get out to appreciate all that's on your doorstep?

Sarah McPherson is trying to change that – by bringing a little of the outside in for some of the residents of Welney village.

Sean finds out how her organisation is using mini-donkeys to help a range of dementia and special needs groups across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Sarah’s charity now has more than 30 regular volunteers and everyone gets stuck in when preparing for a visit.

Sean lends a hand, making sure Millie, Pippin and Bo Peep are ready to meet their public at a care home in Welney village.


Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Charlotte Smith
Presenter Margherita Taylor
Actor Steve Brown
Presenter Sean Fletcher
Presenter Adam Henson
Presenter Tom Heap
Series Producer Joanna Brame
Executive Producer William Lyons

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