April, 2012

Lakenheath Fen

Lakenheath Fen
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Lakenheath Fen

  • Marsh harrier & bittern walk Sunday April 29 7am-10am- CANCELLED

    Unfortunately, the marsh harrier and bittern walk on Sunday April 29 7am-10am has been cancelled due to bad weather. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused. We are planning to reschedule the walk on Sunday May 6 or Monday May 7 so if you are interested in attending, please do not hesitate to ring us on 01842 863400 or e-mail lakenheath@rspb.org.uk;

  • April is full of surprises!

    The great thing about this time of year is that birds are arriving left, right and centre. However, if you are not in the right place at the right time, you are not necessarily going to see them. This is what happened yesterday morning, when I just missed one of these flying over my head:

    Photo credit: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)


    It’s a male ring ouzel, and I must have literally just missed it as it went over. Later on in the day, there were also three wheatears near the washland viewpoint. Despite the changeable weather, there were still ten hobbys over Joist Fen viewpoint and the first large red damselfly of the year was seen on the wing.


    I got down here rather early this morning to do a bird survey in Brandon Fen. Although I was too late to see the six Arctic terns that were feeding over the washland at first light, I saw a turtle dove near the car park. A barn owl was also hunting near the visitor centre.


    Just before I opened up the visitor centre, I popped up to the washland viewpoint and was rewarded with the sighting of a male red crested pochard flying from the washland pool into a smaller pool along the river. If you are not familiar with this species, males show a lot of white on their wings as they fly which helped to pick it out.


    Later on this morning, a whimbrel flew over New Fen North and at least one bittern was seen flying low over the reedbed. A drake garganey was on the second washland pool and there were two common terns nearby. There were plenty of hirundines around including at least 10 house martins along with two swifts over Joist Fen viewpoint.


    We haven’t heard any golden orioles singing in the poplar woods yet. However, there was an intriguing report of a male flying north across the river at lunchtime on Thursday. Perhaps this means that there are one or two birds around and they are waiting for the weather to improve before they let themselves be heard. Watch this space!



  • A dramatic tern of events

    The south easterly winds over the last couple of days have proven to be very productive for tern passage. On Wednesday afternoon, there was an incredible report of 84 “comic” terns flying high over the washland. These were either commons or arctics (or a mixture of both of course!)


    There is now at least one pair of common terns present on the washland and yesterday morning, they had to drive away an intruder into their territory:


    Image credit: Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)

    It’s a black tern, which is a scarce passage migrant from the Low Countries. Unfortunately, it didn’t stick around but that’s probably because the common terns were harassing it so much!


    There was also a cuckoo nearby in Brandon Fen, along with a reeling grasshopper warbler. Later on in the day, there were at least three hobbys over Joist Fen viewpoint along with large numbers of swifts. An Arctic tern was also reported on the washland late afternoon along with the usual garganeys.


    Despite the threatening clouds and strong north westerly winds, there was plenty going on this morning. A drake garganey was on the washland and a cuckoo was perched in the big willow near the visitor centre. Several more grasshopper warblers seemed to have appeared over night and I had a glimpse of one skulking around at the edge of East Wood. We hope to see you soon.