March, 2012

Lakenheath Fen

Lakenheath Fen
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Lakenheath Fen

  • Bird of prey days

    In a way, all of this fine weather is misleading. We all thought that it would bring in lots of summer migrants. In reality though, things have been happening fairly slowly. One possible explanation is it may be something to so with the weather conditions further south. I heard the other day that there is currently a large sandstorm over the Sahara, which would certainly slow things down. We hope it picks up soon!


    Anyhow, one of the main highlights from Monday 26 was an outstanding view of a grey heron from the visitor centre. The individual in question managed to catch a pike that was about the same length of its leg!


    It was wrestling with the fish for quite some time, much to the entertainment of us who were watching. Unfortunately, it gave up eventually and presumably the tasty pike became a meal for another lucky customer later on in the day.


    Meanwhile, out on the reserve, there were at least fifteen marsh harriers hunting near Joist Fen viewpoint. A peregrine was busy mobbing the harriers and a red kite was also seen hunting nearby.


    There was also plenty of bird of prey activity on Tuesday. There were five common buzzards over the west end of the reserve and a peregrine was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint. There were also two Cetti’s warblers and a treecreeper at the west end of the reserve. At least two bitterns were seen from the viewpoints over the course of the day.


    This morning there were two pairs of lapwings in Brandon Fen tumbling around the sky whilst making rather a lot of noise. At least eleven snipe flew out of the marsh. Presumably they where flushed out by a female marsh harrier that was lurking nearby. There were also seven bearded tits near west wood.


    Finally, the blue tits that are featuring in our nestcam in the visitor centre finally seem to have built a structure that roughly resembles a nest. It has certainly taken them long enough! We hope to see you soon.

  • A manic month for migration!

    The migration season is finally upon us. Hooray! We are all waiting with baited breath for each species to arrive. Just so you have an impression of what to expect and when, here is a list of our first migrant dates from 2010 & 2011.


    • ·         Garganey                                17 March (2010)                     14 April (2011)
    • ·         Hobby                                     19 April (2010)                       17 April (2011)
    • ·         Turtle dove                             28 April (2010)                       28 April (2011)
    • ·         Cuckoo                                   20 April (2010)                       15 April (2011)
    • ·         Swift                                       22 April (2010)                       24 April (2011)
    • ·         Sand martin                           20 March (2010)                      16 March (2011)  
    • ·         Swallow                                  25 March (2010)                     24 March (2011)
    • ·         House martin                         15 April (2010)                       4 April (2011)
    • ·         Yellow wagtail                       08 April (2010)                       4 April (2011)
    • ·         Nightingale                            25 April (2010)                       11 April (2011)
    • ·         Wheatear                                22 April (2010)                       10 April (2011)
    • ·         Grasshopper warbler             08 April (2010)                       06 April (2011)
    • ·         Sedge warbler                        04 April (2010)                       02 April (2011)
    • ·         Reed warbler                          15 April (2010)                       08 April (2011)
    • ·         Blackcap                                 07 April (2010)                       03 April (2011)
    • ·         Garden warbler                      30 April (2010)                       23 April (2011)
    • ·         Whitethroat                            08 April (2010)                       08 April (2011)
    • ·         Chiffchaff                               21 March (2010)         14 March (2011)
    • ·         Willow warbler                      07 April (2010)                       03 April (2011)
    • ·         Spotted flycatcher                  10 May (2010)                        08 May (2011)
    • ·         Golden oriole                          28 April (2010)                       26 April (2011)


    As I type, we have already had our first sightings of chiffchaff (17 March) and willow warbler (24 March). Who knows what will appear next! In order to whet your appetite further, here are some pictures of species to come:

    Garganey (Photo credit Lee Gregory)


    Hobby (Photo credit David Carr)


    Sedge warbler (Photo credit Michael Hoare)

    Cuckoo (Photo credit David Carr)


    Golden oriole (Photo credit Phil Hack)


    Blog by David White and Jordan Rowsel


  • Hot and cold

    The last couple of days here at Lakenheath Fen have been a bit hot and cold to be honest. It’s been very cold in the mornings and very hot later on in the day! A common buzzard was hunting over the car park on Friday afternoon and a ringtail hen harrier was over the washland slightly later on.


    There were plenty of signs of spring on Friday with several peacock butterflies on the wing and the first grass snake of the year was seen near New Fen viewpoint. Some lucky visitors saw a water vole on the riverbank and a woodcock was flushed from a similar area.


    A common sandpiper was reported on the washland in the evening and at least twelve snipe flew east along the river. There was also a beautiful sunset, which really set the tone for what was to come on Saturday....................


    In the mist of yesterday (Saturday) morning, most of the chiffchaffs seemed to have moved on. However, as I walked by the big willow near the visitor centre, I heard the beautiful cadence of a willow warbler in full song. This is an early record for this species here, so it was great to hear it.


    A pair of marsh harriers were over East Wood and treecreepers were present in both East Wood and Trial Wood. Five bearded tits flew up from the reedbed and landed in New Fen North.


    Once the sun had burned through, we headed down to Joist Fen viewpoint. The local marsh harriers were putting on a spectacular display and there were at least eight birds in view at once. They were joined by at least one common buzzard. A Cetti’s warbler flew over the pond and several bearded tits popped out right in front of the viewpoint.


    It was really rather warm in the afternoon and this encouraged several grass snakes to appear, including one swimming in the visitor centre pond. Good numbers of peacock butterflies were on the wind and a weasel was running along the hard track alongside Trial Wood.


    It looks like its going to be another lovely day today, so we hope to see you soon!