July, 2011

Lakenheath Fen

Lakenheath Fen
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Lakenheath Fen

  • I could walk all day!

    We have just had one of my favourite events of the year: The long walk. This walk of around 10 kilometres involves walking all the way from the visitor centre right down to Botany Bay SSI, the most westerly point on the reserve. This walk only takes place one or twice a year, as it involves walking on paths that are usually closed to the public.

     

    We started off in lovely sunshine and after admiring some lovely plants, we got down to the western edge of Trial Wood. There were at least five marsh harriers soaring overhead enjoying the thermals, and a hobby was hunting over the river.

     

    As we got beyond Joist Fen viewpoint, two cranes appeared from north of the river and flew into the grazing marsh not too far away from where we were standing. There were plenty of bearded tits pinging in the reedbeds, but surprisingly they weren’t showing very well, and we only got fleeting glimpses.

     

    As we were sitting having our lunch on the riverbank near Botany Bay, we were admiring the view all the way back to the visitor centre, which really was a sight to behold. An extremely showy kingfisher was perched on a branch as we started walking towards the centre, and it was eyeing up two common terns that were fishing nearby.

     

    Slightly further down, a bittern flew out of a pool very close to the pool and provided a fantastic view as it flew across the whole width of the reserve. A Cetti’s warbler was alarm calling nearby, although it was keeping out of sight as useful.

     

    Perhaps the highlight of the walk was when we had almost got back to Joist Fen viewpoint. Cranes were bugling nearby and shortly after three flew in and this provoked a heck of a reaction. It seemed that Little and Large, the other pair, were feeding in “their spot”, and a bugling match continued for at least ten minutes after that.

     

    We got back to the visitor centre for a well earned rest, and it was a real treat to have done this walk on such a lovely day. We will be running a similar walk next year, so if you are interested, keep an eye on our event programme.

  • Craning your neck

    Some lucky visitors to the reserve on Wednesday were treated to a very unusual sight: A bittern in a tree from New Fen viewpoint. Although this sounds completely bizarre, young bitterns are occasionally seen perched in bushes and small trees, although there cryptic camouflage doesn’t work quite so well in these circumstances! Perhaps it was trying to demonstrate its “bitterning” stance when it freezes and points its bill to the sky in an attempt to become invisible!

     

    Both pairs of cranes and the youngster have been seen fairly regularly over the last couple of days. However, when they have been seen on the ground, it has usually been a case of waiting for a bird to pop its head up as they are feeding amongst quite tall vegetation. As always, the best place to head for is Joist Fen viewpoint, especially for seeing them in flight.

     

     

     As reported in my previous post, a family of jays near the visitor centre having been keeping us entertained by mimicking buzzards, so we can often be found craning our necks upwards to look for soaring raptors only to discover that it is just the jays again! However, two “real” buzzards were seen soaring just south of the railway line this afternoon, which was a welcome sight.

     

    Other things to look out for during the coming weeks are hobbys as they pelt around gracefully searching for dragonflies and large insects. It is also the time of year when turtle doves starting flocking up before migrating south. Look out for them on the telegraph wires on and around the reserve, especially north of the river. Spotted flycatchers are also still around, especially in the poplar woods.

  • Willdife explorers summer club

     Stuck for ideas for what to do with the children over the summer holidays?  Why not come along to the Wildlife Explorers summer club which will meet every  Thursday throughout  August from 11am-12.30pm.

     

     These free fun sessions will be full of fantastic fenland flora and fauna. There will be a different theme for each meeting, from bug hunts to pond dips, and will involve both indoor outdoor activities.

     

     The theme for the first meeting on 4 August  will be barn owls.  So if you fancy getting stuck into some barn owl pellets to find  out what the locals have been eating, then this is your chance! There also be an opportunity to make a barn owl mask that can be decorated and taken home as a memento.

     

    These sessions are free and there is no need to book. All children must be accompanied by an adult. If you would like more information, please phone 0184 2 863400 or e-mail lakenheath@rspb.org.uk.