WashAn area of low-lying land which is allowed to flood in order to release pressure caused by high river levels and so to prevent flooding elsewhere. The best example is found in the Fens, between Denver (Norfolk) and Earith (Cambridgeshire), and is known as the Ouse Washes. Over half of this area has nature reserve status. In summer it consists of grazing land, with breeding birds such a Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa and Snipe Gallinago gallinago, while the flooded washes in winter attract huge numbers of wildfowl including the largest flocks of Bewick's Swans Cygnus columbianus in the British Isles.
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From Peter Weaver's Birdwatcher's Dictionary
Copyright © 1981 by Peter Weaver