It has been an extremely busy week with lots going on both work and wildlife wise. Here are some of the highlights. A red kite is still wandering around the area and it was seen here on Sunday. I saw presumably the same bird just the other side of RAF Lakenheath yesterday.
There are still plenty of warblers around including plenty of common whitethroats and grasshopper warblers which have just piped up again. Reed warblers and sedge warblers are also widespread as they are busy second brooding.
There was plenty of bittern activity on Wednesday with at least two birds seen from Joist Fen viewpoint and one from New Fen viewpoint. Several marsh harriers were on the wing and two bearded tits were seen near Joist Fen viewpoint. Meanwhile, on the insect front, several black tailed skimmers are now on the wing:
There has been plenty of golden oriole activity recently and a male was seen flying from Trial Wood to West Wood yesterday morning. Two kingfishers were seen from New Fen viewpoint along with two bearded tits. At least one cuckoo was also nearby. A gigantic female grass snake also gave me the fright of my life as it slithered across the path in front of me yesterday afternoon.
A honey buzzard was reported flying west along the river from the washland viewpoint this afternoon. The local stoats have also been keeping busy as one was seen carrying a large prey item along the entrance track earlier on. We hope to see you soon.
Please note that the bat night tonight (Friday June 29) is FULLY BOOKED. Unfortunately, we can only accommodate those who have booked places in advance. The next bat night will be on Friday August 3. Please click here for further details.
We have just had a great walk around the reserve looking at plants and insects. As we walked alongside East Wood, a scarce chaser came and perched right alongside the path which was lovely.
Our main target though was the bee orchids which are in flower on the riverbank. Many thanks to regular visitor Barry who pointed us in the right direction. Here are some photos of this lovely plant:
Photo credit- Suzanne Harwood
On the way back, I couldn’t resist and take a photo of another plant that was in flower:
Photo credit: David White
This is common meadow rue. This plant is very important, as the larvae of the incredibly rare marsh carpet moth feed on its seed heads. This moth is moreorless restricted to East Anglia and we may have the largest population in the country according to our annual caterpillar surveys. Here is a picture of an adult:
Photo credit: Lee Gregory
If they are not on the wing already, they should be very soon. If we catch one, we will usually have it on display on the visitor centre for a short period of time. If we manage to catch one, we will let you know. We hope to see you soon.
It is our last Wednesday walkabout of the year tomorrow. Details can be found here.
It is our last Wednesday walkabout of the year tomorrow. Details can be found here. The walk will have a specific Brecks theme. Although most of the reserve is Fenland peat, the eastern end of the reserve, mainly between the car park and the reserve is Breckland sand.
The Brecks are a very unusual and special area for wildlife. The area supports a wide variety of scarce wildlife, including over 12,000 species of invertebrate. The scarce grey carpet moth is just one that may be encountered:
Photo credit: Katherine Puttick
There are also many scarce plans that may be encountered. This includes species such as viper’s bugloss:
Other species that may be encountered include biting stonecrop and burr medick. There will also be some reference to RSPB’s wider work in the Brecks, including information about stone curlew monitoring in the local area. We hope to see you there.
I had a walk around the reserve yesterday evening and it was just superb. As I walked alongside East Wood, I could hear a golden oriole singing in Trial Wood. Despite the wind, it was fairly vocal. I made for the riverbank and on the way along, a grasshopper warbler was reeling from an invisible perch nearby.
The oriole was still singing so we (I was with John, one of our volunteers at this point) decide to stop and have a quick look for it. Amazingly, we spotted it perched up in Trial Wood and watched it flitting about in the canopy for a couple of minutes. It eventually flew off towards East Wood, but it was lovely to see such a bright bird on a dull evening!
As I walked further along, a hobby was hunting at close quarters between the footpath and the river, showing off its amazing flying skills as it went about its daily business. When I got to Joist Fen viewpoint I was rewarded with the sight of several marsh harriers hunting in front of me. A male bearded tit flew over the reedbed and suddenly, a large croak came from somewhere behind me.........
Sure enough, it was a bittern and it flew right over my head before flying the whole length of the reedbed to eventually drop down at the far end of the reserve. Superb! I could also hear cranes calling from somewhere deep in the reedbed.
This only left the fantastic finale, which is pictured below:
Its West Country class steam engine “Tangmere” on its way from Holt to London. The moody light emphasises that by this point, it had started raining. After the evening I had just had, I quite frankly couldn’t care less! We hope to see you soon.