Dr Pam Taylor, the president of the British Dragonfly Society and the Norfolk dragonfly recorder led a walk around the reserve yesterday. Here is a list of what was seen:
Common Blue Damselfly
Small Red-eyed Damselfly
Small red-eyed damselfly is particularly notable, as it was only recorded for the first time here at Lakenheath Fen in 2010. It was first recorded in Britain in 1999, and to date it has a very restricted distribution in Essex, North Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and the Isle of Wight. We are very fortunate to have this species on the reserve, and it should be on the wing until September.
Several species of butterflies were also seen, including red admiral, gatekeeper, meadow brown and comma.
The weather this past weekend was a lot better than anticipated. After the two cranes went for a wander on Friday, we were slightly concerned that our other three would follow suit. However, they were seen in flight from Joist Fen viewpoint on Saturday, which was somewhat of a relief!
Also on Saturday, some lucky visitors managed to get this cracking photograph of a bittern:
Photograph by Les Bunyan.
Their luck continued, as they also photographed a red kite over the west end of the reserve. These graceful raptors are still quite scarce here, and quite possibly the same bird was seen over nearby Icklingham later on in the day.
In the afternoon, I lead another successful children’s walk and pond dipping session and as we got to New Fen viewpoint, we thought we were in luck, as a large bird of prey with a seemingly forked tail was soaring over the viewpoint.
Expecting it to be another red kite (or perhaps the same one), we all looked in anticipation only to find that it was a male marsh harrier with some missing tail feathers! This just goes to show that bird of prey identification is never easy, and you should always have a good look at them before you make your mind up. Oh well, it was great to see anyway!
Cranes are certainly the talk of the town at the moment. Every since one of our pairs fledged its first young in mid-July, it seems that there are mentions of cranes everywhere! This is great news though, as it is fantastic to publicise having such a stately bird on the reserve.
It started when I sent off a media release celebrating the success of the cranes to the local press. Before I knew it, I was on BBC Radio Suffolk yesterday lunchtime talking about them! Should you wish to listen to it, it was on Lesley Dolphin’s show from about 58 minutes. Our retired Site Manager Norman Sills is interviewed first, swiftly followed by yours truly!
I have also been reading The Norfolk Cranes’ story, by John Buxton and Chris Durdin. This is a fantastic read if you ever get the chance. It has helped to explain plenty of the bird’s behaviour that we have seen here in the past. It even explained what was seen on the reserve yesterday:
Little and large, our pair of cranes that didn’t manage to fledge young this year, were seen in flight from Joist Fen viewpoint. Now this doesn’t seem too unusual, but they were circling around and reached a great height, calling as they went. They then flew off high and east and gradually disappeared from view.
This behaviour is quite common after the breeding season, and means the birds have gone for a wander. There is nothing to worry about though, as they have done this several times before, and have always returned eventually afterwards! Let’s hope that when they return, they bring some more cranes with them!
Our resident family of three are still present, and if you spend enough time at Joist Fen viewpoint, you may get lucky as they fly over the reedbed. Also from this viewpoint, it is still well worth looking for bitterns, as they are being seen fairly regularly at the moment. Several marsh harriers are still around, and a male was even hunting near the visitor centre yesterday.
We had a very successful bat night last night, but it took a long time to get going! We were treated to great views of a hobby near East Wood just before it got dark, and as darkness finally fell, bats started to appear.
Along the western side of East Wood, we were treated to a noctule clip-clopping above us and a Daubenton’s trickling away in the distance. Common pipistrelles were having a feast over New Fen viewpoint, and it was great to listen to them having a good feed and socialise as they emerged for an evenings hunt.
Please note that the bat night this evening is fully booked. Unfortunately, we can only accommodate those who have booked in advance. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.
It has been extremely warm today. This makes walking around the reserve quite difficult. However, we braved the heat earlier on, and there were loads of lovely insects on the wing. There were brown hawkers whizzing around everywhere, and a female emperor dragonfly was sunning itself on a bush in Brandon Fen, showing how much greener it was when compared with a male.
As we reached the pond dipping area at the northern edge of East Wood, we were treated to the sight of a female banded demoiselle hunting like a spotted flycatcher from a perch near the waters edge. Although males look exquisite, with their iridescent blue bodies and black marks on their wings, the females are just as attractive with their emerald green bodies that make them look like little pearls in the sun.
Large numbers of common darters where whizzing around alongside East Wood, but they were very difficult to observe as they were flying too fast. We also had several fleeting glimpses of migrant hawkers, which is a dragonfly that we should be seeing a lot more of between now and the end of September.
There were plenty of butterflies on the wing, including peacocks, red admirals and meadow browns. The peacocks in particular were being incredibly showy, holding their wings out so their “eyes” were visible to us and any passing predators that might be tempted by a snack!
As it was so hot, most of the birds were keeping a low profile. However, a great crested grebe was keeping us entertained at New Fen viewpoint by snorkelling to look out for prey and suddenly disappearing underwater, only to reappear shortly after with a tasty morsel. A kingfisher provided a typically brief glimpse as it flashed across the pool.
Elsewhere on the reserve, two cranes were seen from Joist Fen viewpoint and several marsh harriers were hunting low over the reedbed, including one showy individual that was hunting near the visitor centre. A group of bearded tits were pinging away near New Fen viewpoint.