I had a bit of a surprise when I got to work yesterday morning. I took one look at the visitor centre and this is what I found:
OK, I might be exaggerating a bit but there was some snow on the ground! As I was bought up in Dorset, I had scarcely ever seen snow until I moved up here four years ago, least of all in October! This is a picture that I took here in December 2009, on a morning that I will never forget.
Although the weather hasn’t been great over the last couple of days, there has still been plenty to see. A bittern was seen making a long flight from Joist Fen viewpoint on Friday afternoon. A kingfisher was fishing in the visitor centre pond and two very late house martins flew over the visitor centre.
I braved the cold yesterday morning and was rewarded with a fantastic view of three roe deers grazing on the riverbank. A Cetti’s warbler was calling near the washland viewpoint and a kingfisher zoomed up one of the channels near the pond dipping area.
I dashed back up to the washland viewpoint between showers at lunchtime and there were good numbers of wildfowl present. There were 32 wigeons, 28 gadwalls and 11 teals on the large pool. Our resident whooper swan was also present and a little egret flew east along the river.
Several hardy souls headed down to Joist Fen viewpoint and one visitor was rewarded with extremely close views of a bittern in front of the viewpoint and several bearded tits. A male merlin was also seen and I was treated to the sight of a water rail having a bath near the visitor centre.
This morning a curlew flew over Brandon Fen along with nine lapwings. There were a few surprises on the washland with a female goosander and two great black backed gulls present. A female stonechat also kept popping up on the bushes alongside the river.
There is plenty to see on the reserve at the moment so why not wrap up warm and come to see us? We hope to see you soon.
Please note that there are currently two places available on the Spooky Hallowe’en walk this evening. If you would like to book places, please give us a ring on 01842 863400.
However, the weather forecast is not looking very good for this evening so a decision will be made at 10am this morning as to whether the event will still go ahead. We will inform those booked on at that time. If the event is cancelled, we will also post a note here at that time.
I shall begin where I left off on Sunday with some more information about our bird ringing demonstration on Sunday. I have attached a full list of what proved to be a very successful day. I will leave it to Simon Evans our tamed bird ringer to sum it up:
“Glancing through the results from yesterday, reveals we caught a total of 183 birds of which 154 were newly ringed and 29 were recaptures. Amongst the latter were four control lesser redpolls. Three of which were originally ringed nearby, one from Thetford Forest, one from Mildenhall and one from Brandon. The fourth was originally ringed on Orfordness last autumn and also retrapped on the reserve back in February. How about that for a prompt response?!”
We will keep you posted about forthcoming bird ringing demonstrations here in due course. Winter migrants have been pouring in during the last couple of days with large groups of redwings and fieldfares moving south.
There were at least 10 lesser redpolls in Brandon Fen on Monday along with a brambling and two goldcrests. A late grass snake was seen on the northern edge of New Fen North and a male merlin was terrorising the small birds at the west end of the reserve.
The local bearded tits have been very busy recently and a small flock was seen at the west end of the reserve on Tuesday. A kingfisher was also seen near the visitor centre pond. It is becoming a regular customer all of a sudden!
Ali witnessed a moment of drama on Wednesday when a stoat killed a rabbit alongside East Wood. A water rail was seen skulking around at the edge of the visitor centre pond on the same day and a barn owl was hunting behind the visitor centre that evening.
A Cetti’s warbler was showing at the edge of the visitor centre pond yesterday morning. At least eight marsh harriers were hunting over the west end of the reserve yesterday evening and a common buzzard roosted in West Wood.
Around 30 lapwings flew over the visitor centre this morning and one of our volunteers spotted a red kite north of the river:
Photo credit: Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
An oystercatcher was feeding alongside the river and a kingfisher was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint. A large leopard slug was also seen in Brandon Fen.
It seems that our six cranes are now over at RSPB Nene Washes, where they are part of a flock of 15 birds roaming the washes. Hopefully they will make there way back over here soon. We hope to see you on the reserve this weekend and don’t forget to put your clocks back tomorrow night!
As mentioned last week, interesting fungi is popping up all over the reserve - some I have been able to ID and some I have not! Luckily, one that I have been able to identify is shown below and is clearly ready for halloween next week....note the 'spooky' blood dripping off the Shaggy inkcap below! Common names for this fungi are lawyer's wig and shaggy mane.
Photo credit: Ali Blaney - Shaggy inkcap fungi 'bleeding'
It's not really blood of course, it's 'ink'! The cap base on this fungi expands and dissolves into the inky fluid shown inset - usually I've seen blue/black ink coming from this fungi but not red before. Very interesting!
We've got some other fungi right outside the visitor centre that I am busily trying to identify, hopefully they will feature in next weeks blog!
In other news, as featured in David's blog on Sunday, the Lakenheath Fen Run (and walk) for Wildlife took place last weekend and it was a great success. Much fun was had by all, lots of money was raised for nature conservation, new members joined the RSPB and the visitor centre was buzzing with atmosphere! The photo below shows the exciting finish of the 5km race, which was won by Charlie Jones. Charlie was the first of us to encounter the cattle on the riverbank section of the race and bravely herded them along until they finally ran down the bank instead of along it! The 10km race was won by Martin Ineson and the 2km race by our very own David White. A big thank you to everyone who came along and took part, as well as all the volunteers who marshalled along the routes and took charge in the visitor centre.
Photo credit: Dave Rogers - 5km finale - Charlie Jones crosses the line with our volunteer James close behind (and me in 3rd place in the distance!)
Work continues down in Botany Bay and it's been hard work the past couple of weeks, as the brash is covered with even more vegetation on the south side of the public footpath than it was on the north. Our volunteers have been working with dogged determination however and spirits were kept high this week as Suzanne took a break from the office and joined us for the day.....and brought along some amazing biscuits. We've been treated to sightings of redwing and fieldfare during our breaks and even saw a nice common frog, which was hastily re-routed as it was spotted jumping straight towards the fire! A couple of late grass snakes have also been seen this week, looking quite chilled and not moving away very quickly. Today I and a couple of well-timed visitors watched a stoat taking down a sizeable rabbit near east wood and a beautiful water rail was showing itself nicely on the visitor centre pool. It's a hive of activity here at Lakenheath Fen - people and wildlife alike!
It is always good to see birds close up. We are having a bird ringing demonstration as part of our “Give our garden wildlife a helping hand” family event today. Here are a few pictures of what has been caught so far:
A very lively great spotted woodpecker that managed to cause Simon, our tamed bird ringer quite an injury.
A tiny little goldcrest.
A marsh tit (definitely not a willow tit!)
An unusual view of a siskin.
All photos by Karen Langley
Large numbers of lesser redpolls have been roaming around the reserve over the last couple of days. It also seems like hundreds of redwings have passed through. I even saw some while I was running around the 2km course of our run & walk for wildlife yesterday!
A very late grass snake was seen near New Fen viewpoint yesterday and at least one hobby was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint. An unidentified small mammal (most likely to be a shrew or a mouse) was seen disappearing in a hole on the grass outside the visitor centre.
Later on in the afternoon, at least four snipes flew over Joist Fen viewpoint and a curlew was calling north of the river. Good numbers of bearded tits were pinging in front of the viewpoint and there was an impressive count of 13 marsh harriers over the west end of the reserve at dusk.
Other highlights of this morning have included a flock of 26 lapwings over the washland and a kingfisher feeding on the visitor centre pond. The weather is due to get a bit chillier during the next week so that should bring in some more winter visitor visitors. Why not wrap us warm and come and give us a visit? We hope to see you soon!