THOUSANDS more birds have flocked to Rutland Water this winter.
The nature reserve has seen an increase of 8,000 birds making its home there during the cold months.
Usually about 15,000 birds gather at Rutland Water, but last month 23,000 were recorded.
Tim Appleton, who manages the nature reserve at Rutland Water, said it could be because smaller waters nearby have frozen over.
He said: “This could be why Rutland Water is taking extra birds, even though a lot of the reservoir is frozen over too.
“These figures which we have indicate how internationally important Rutland is. To get this amount of birds coming here is remarkable. We have got all sorts of birds flocking here, including rare ones like the American wigeon.
“It is the second ever we have seen in 35 years and is the only one in Britain at the moment.”
Mr Appleton said about 110 species of bird are making their homes at the nature reserve at the moment and that anyone who visits could see up to 50 different types.
He said: “The birds come here because of the open water and because we have so many here at the moment we are taking steps to put out food to look after them.
“Anyone who wants to help look after the birds is invited to come to Rutland Water to seek specialist advice on what they can feed them.”
The nature reserve is hoping more people will be able to volunteer to help out now that Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust has been awarded an £8,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The money will enable the trust to draw up detailed plans for a project focused on enhancing chances for volunteers.
The nature reserve is managed by the trust in partnership with Anglian Water.
Trust director Simon Bentley said: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund will enable us to fully work up our proposals for an exciting project focused on volunteering at Rutland Water Nature Reserve.”
A new Volunteer Training Centre will also be built.
Anyone with ideas can call Becky Corby on 01572 770651 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.