If you build it, they will come!

If you build it, they will come!

WWT Washington’s new Saline Lagoon Hide is seeing some amazing wildlife.

A specially designed hide introduced to bring wildlife and people closer together at WWT Washington Wetland Centre is proving a huge success since its opening earlier this year.

The 16-sided, accessible hide was officially opened in May and promised to help visitors get uncompromised views of the river Wear, Saline Lagoon and the wildlife both habitats bring. This has definitely been the case as birds such as little egret and kingfishers have been spotted over the past couple of weeks in the area. There have also been some spectacular sightings of a family of roe deer in the meadows, with one visitor even spotting the deer bounding right beside the hide – a truly spectacular sight and very encouraging sign!

Other birds on the Saline Lagoon include oystercatcher, common sandpiper and lapwing.

The eco-friendly, sedum covered roof has burst into life and amazing colour, creating a fantastic habitat for smaller wildlife and insects while being incredibly beautiful to look at.

The area has helped strengthen the biodiversity of WWT Washington’s nature reserve by connecting it to the River Wear. During high tide each month, the river breaches the banks and water flows freely into the lagoon providing a haven of fish and river goodness for wading birds; a true spectacle to witness.

The lagoon is an example of one of the UK’s rarest habitats and its brackish nature – a mixture of fresh and sea water – provides the ideal salinity levels for a unique range of wetland species.

WWT Washington centre manager Gill Pipes said: “We’re so excited that visitors are now seeing some amazing wildlife from the new hide – it’s exactly what we wanted from the project and we’re hugely grateful to HLF and all of our funders, as well as the contractors and WWT team that made this project come to life.

“The hide also provides motivation for our summer art project ‘Life’s what you make it’, where we’ve welcomed a community artist to work alongside visitors to create works of art and generally have a great time with them, using the wildlife they see as visual inspiration.

“Gillian Toulson has worked on a number of community based art projects, incorporating a closer connection with nature; so she was the natural choice to lead the project.”

Gillian will be in the barn 10am-12noon and 1-3pm every Monday and Tuesday throughout the summer holidays ready to help you create your own work of art to be included in our end of summer exhibition. Our guides will also be in the Lagoon View hide telling you all about the wildlife there and helping you to spot it using binoculars and ID books.

Gill added, “We can’t wait to see what visitors create – the amazing wildlife of the lagoon combined with people’s imaginations will make for a fascinating exhibition!”

The lagoon and hide projects were supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which gives grants to sustain and transform heritage in the UK, Sita Trust and other generous funders, including several donations from visitors.

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Did you know?

Mowbray Park in Sunderland city centre is one of the oldest parks in the North East. Restored to its former Victorian splendour, it has an intriguing array of art works.

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