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‘Human swan’ flight with migrating birds sparks volunteer plea at Welney Wetland Centre

WWT Welney Wetland Centre volunteer Shaun O'Driscoll pictured with a Bewick's swan.
WWT Welney Wetland Centre volunteer Shaun O'Driscoll pictured with a Bewick's swan.

Interest in a conservationist’s flight alongside thousands of swans as they make a 4,500 mile journey from the arctic to the UK has sparked a plea for volunteers.

Sacha Dench is currently flying by paramotor – paragliding with a propeller strapped to her back – with Bewick’s swans as they make their way to the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust’s (WWT) Welney Wetland Centre for the winter.

Sacha is working with the WWT on its Flight of the Swans conservation project, which is hoping to shed light on the steady decline of Bewick’s swans whose numbers have almost halved in the last 20 years.

Now interest in the flight has prompted the Welney Wetland Centre to appeal for volunteers so the story of the Bewick’s swans can be shared when visitors come to the centre to see their arrival.

Chris Cavalier, WWT volunteering development officer, said: “We won’t be asking volunteers to go up in a paramotor, but by supporting WWT people will have the chance to inspire visitors about the conservation work that the organisation carries out.

“Welney attracts the highest number of Bewick’s swans that overwinter in the UK, and we’re also hoping to attract new volunteers as interest in Sacha’s Flight of the Swans project reaches new heights.

“WWT is committed to raising awareness of the important role that wetlands play in today’s society, and in the wealth of species we have here in the UK. The support of volunteers is key to our work, at home and abroad, and we welcome applications from people of all ages and from all walks of life.”

WWT Welney volunteer Tony Winchester said: “The sensation of feeding hundreds of swans and ducks that have flown to Welney from all over the continent is incredible and makes volunteering a joy.

“Helping people to connect with our wildlife is so rewarding. From seeing families experience the flight in for the first time to seasoned enthusiasts looking out for the return of their favourite swans, the joy that these magical birds bring is truly wonderful.”

To get involved in volunteering at WWT Welney Wetland Centre you can visit: www.wwt.org.uk/support/volunteer-with-wwt, email: volunteer.welney@wwt.org.uk or call: 0208 4094460.

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