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Head Keeper Sam McKinlay and the Collection Team once again have their hands full with breeding season underway among the threatened and endangered birds they care for at Arundel Wetland Centre.

The Keepers have many breeding species to track and will house the hatchlings and their families differently, depending on species, size and threats.

Obvious nests in exhibits

Birds like the Bewick’s swans pair build a big nest (see photo) and hatch their eggs outdoors in the exhibits they live in. The pair at Arundel are currently sitting on eggs for a thirty-two day incubation period. The Keepers will be watching to see if there are cygnets hatching from mid-June.

Tucked away in nesting boxes

Some ducks nest in their exhibits inside green wooden boxes built by the Keepers at the wetland centre. These boxes vary in size and shape for the species using them and make it easier to check on the birds regularly. Keepers have an eye on the bufflehead ducks (see photo) and hooded mergansers. Both species have chicks pipping in the shells, about to hatch any minute! These young families will quickly be moved into the netted duckery enclosure after they hatch to benefit from extra protection. (see photo)

Special treatment for endangered species

The eggs of some endangered species are placed in incubators and the youngsters reared in tanks by our Keepers. These scaly-sided merganser chicks (pictured above) hatched in May – here Padme is 7 days old while Obi is 3 days old. Scaly-sided mergansers and Meller’s ducks that breed at Arundel Wetland Centre are part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) to maintain healthy population of healthy animals in Europe. This work is essential for conservation work with these species.

All these birds are all the first wave of the breeding season which will have the Collections Team busy through till the end of the summer. The next wave may include red-breasted goslings, red shoveler ducklings and Philippine ducklings in the next month or two.

Will they, won’t they

The Keepers are waiting to see if our pair of trumpeter swans lay eggs this year. The male is quite young (three years old) and the pair are not showing much interest in nest building despite being given logs for privacy and a tonne bag of nesting material!

Some of the birds that hatch out this season at Arundel Wetland Centre may remain here while others may be moved to other WWT centres across the UK. Endangered species belonging to the EEP programme may even end up abroad in other countries as part of conservation programs.

Arundel Wetland Centre is open every day from 10am-4.30pm. The 65 acre wetland reserve has buggy friendly, paved, level pathways and sturdy no-slip wooden boardwalks. The boat rides, pond dipping and the wildlife hides are wheelchair accessible. There is free parking with the Water’s Edge Café and a WWT shop onsite.  Visit for more information.