It is inevitable that when you work at a fantastic nature reserve like Lakenheath Fen, and you go on holiday, you are bound to miss some good stuff. So here is a whistle stop tour of reserve sightings from the last week. Starting on January 31st, one of my volunteers had an afternoon walk around the reserve and saw a wide variety.
He reported seven Cetti's warblers singing between Trial Wood and Joist Fen viewpoint. It is great to hear that so many of them have made it through the cold weather. Three cranes flew in from the north, and a bittern flew in front of Joist Fen viewpoint. Birds of prey were much in evidence as well. At least nine marsh harriers were hunting and two male hen harriers went to roost. A sparrowhawk flew over and a female merlin was pursuing some of the local corn buntings. Over ninety corn buntings went to roost, which is a very good count for the reserve.
The hooded crow was seen again on February 5th. This bird has been very elusive all winter, so it is good to hear that it is still around. One the same day, a male goosander appeared on the washland. It was still present yesterday (February 8th) so hopefully it will stay around for a while longer. These birds are rather scarce here, so it is a very good record for the reserve.
The weather yesterday was very pleasant for the time year, and with it came some interesting sightings. The most unusual was provided by 12 common buzzards flying east over the reserve together, which must have been a fantastic sight. The escaped harris hawk that has been roaming the Fens since last August was also seen nearby. Five cranes were seen from Joist Fen viewpoint, which is interesting in itself as our birds had disappeared once again for just under a week until yesterday! Two water pipits were seen on the washland and there was a good count of fifteen redshanks.
The weather has been pretty variable recently. However, the birds don't seem to mind. Sixteen waxwings flew west over Joist Fen viewpoint this morning. Although there have been quite a few of these funky looking birds around this winter, this is only the third record of this species on the reserve. Seven Bewick's swans flew over East Wood, probably en route to or from the Ouse Washes. A water pipit was on the washland, and there were also nine shelducks present.
Three cranes were showing well near Joist Fen viewpoint for most of the day, and the local marsh harriers have been displaying quite close to the viewpoint. The Harris hawk was also seen. Two bitterns were seen flying together yesterday evening (11/2), so hopefully this is a sign that they are thinking about the breeding season ahead.
Wildfowl numbers on the washland remain fairly high for this time of year. On Thursday morning, there were nine pintail on the washland along with a drake goosander and seven little egrets. Many of our resident birds are in full song now including reed buntings, song thrushes, mistle thrushes and chaffinches.
I am sorry to say that the Love nature quiz night this evening (Sunday February 13th 7.30pm-9.30pm) has been cancelled due to lack of bookings. We would like to apologise for this and any inconvenience caused. We are planning to reschedule the quiz on St Georges Day (Saturday April 23rd) with a slightly different theme so watch this space for more information about this event.