Lakenheath Fen

Lakenheath Fen

Lakenheath Fen
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Lakenheath Fen

  • 24th September Recent sightings – How time flies!

    It seems like only yesterday that I was last writing a recent sightings update, however a week has once again sped by (where does the time go?!), so apologies for this week’s update being a little delayed!

    The osprey continues to be the star of the show and has been seen daily across the reserve for the past week. It’s treated us to some spectacular views from both Joist Fen and New Fen viewpoints whilst fishing in various the reedbed pools.

    It certainly proved to be a welcome distraction on Thursday as we were cutting back the reeds in front of Joist Fen in order to open up the view. The strimming was quickly called to a halt as we watched it fishing for a good ten minutes, before it successfully carried off a fish!

    Thanks to Matt Walton for sharing this great image of the osprey.

    We’ll be cutting more reed back at Joist Fen next week, hopefully encouraging a few of our secretive reedbed residents like bittern and water rail to make an appearance.

    Close runners up for star of the show have been our bearded tits, which have been showing amazingly well this week. As we sat in Mere Hide last Sunday as part of the Rambler’s Ramble event, listening their pinging calls, a group of four suddenly appeared about a metre away from the hide!

    Things continued to get better at Joist Fen as a group of around 15 spent time flitting around in the reeds directly in front of us. Only yesterday there was a group of 28 spotted there mid afternoon, so it’s well worth the walk down there.

    Bearded tits (Image credit - Tim James)

    Osprey aside, it’s been a great week for bird of prey sightings; marsh harriers daily across the reserve, up to four hobbies around New Fen (22nd), two red kite over the river bank (22nd), four common buzzard over Joist Fen (24th) and kestrel  regularly alongside New Fen.

    There have been regular sightings of water rail at New Fen, skulking in the fresh reed growth to the right of the viewpoint.

    Kingfishers have been regular visitors to Mere Hide and the visitor centre pool, posing well for anyone passing with a camera;

     Kingfishers from the visitor centre (Image credits - John Wightman)

    And to finish - a reminder that tomorrow we have on a binocular, telescope and early Christmas shopping day here at Lakenheath Fen.  You’ll have the chance to not only get advice on the best binoculars, telescopes and accessories to suit your needs, but the opportunity to try them out as well. You can also make an early start on your Christmas shopping with a selection of cards, calendars and gifts for sale!


  • 16th September recent sightings – What a difference a day makes!

    It’s hard to believe that for the last few days the reserve has been basking in sunshine and ever increasing temperatures, as today the skies are dark, rain is falling and thunder is grumbling!

    As I headed down the reserve this morning to check the route for this Sunday’s Ramblers Ramble event (more details below!) there was a definite feel of autumn in the air. Despite the rain showers, juvenile marsh harriers were soaring over the reedbeds and little egrets were making the most of the increasing water levels in the grazing marsh.

    Also braving the elements today was volunteer Catherine, who wandered down to Joist Fen and was rewarded with an osprey flying overhead! We’ve had regular sightings of osprey over the last week with the washland viewpoint and New Fen seeming to be the best spots. However, despite my best efforts, including running up to the washland numerous times in one day, I have yet to see an osprey at Lakenheath Fen!

    Osprey (Image credit - Christine Nelson)

    Having been away from the reserve for the last few days, I eagerly checked the sightings sheet when I got in to see exactly what I’ve missed....

    The washland continues to be a great spot for waders, with sightings of greenshank (up to three birds), green sandpiper (up to five birds), ruff, dunlin, common sandpiper and curlew sandpiper (last seen on the 11th).

    The waders have been joined by hobby, marsh harrier, kingfisher and garganey throughout the week, so it’s most definitely worth a visit up there. It’s also worth a wander around Brandon Fen as there have been sightings of sparrowhawk and green woodpecker around the trail.

    Records from New Fen viewpoint have included marsh harrier, up to three kingfishers, and on Sunday, a weasel and clouded yellow butterfly.

    Clouded yellow (Image credit - Tim James)

    The kingfishers seem to quite like the new look of the visitor centre pool and are making the most of the extra perches put in. They really are spoiled for choice for fishing spots now!

    The usual suspects (blue tits, great tits, goldfinches, reed buntings and greenfinches) have been visiting the feeders outside the centre, with welcome additions of chiffchaff and blackcap on Wednesday.

    As I write this a sparrowhawk has just been spotted sat in one of the willows at the back of the visitor centre pool, needless to say the feeders were deserted very quickly! Volunteers Roger, Roy and Norman are keeping a close eye out for its return!

    We’ll be looking out for all this wildlife and more on our Rambler’s Ramble event this Sunday. Walking a roughly 10km route around the reserve, and heading into areas away from the usual visitor trails, you never know what we might find...

    Full details of how to book on can be found here – there’s still plenty of places left!

    Rambling along! (Image credit - Emma Cuthbertson)

  • 10 September recent sightings: Soggy September?!

    Good morning. It's a bit damp this morning but we definitely do need the rain! I will start of where I left off on Thursday with some recent sightings. Local bird ringer Simon Evans was ringing in Brandon Fen and while he was out, an osprey flew south over his head just after 09.30. It was being mobbed by an adult and two juvenile hobbys. He saw a grey wagtail flying south and he also saw the following on the washland:

    Grey heron: 16

    Greenshank: 2

    Green sandpiper: 2

    Common snipe: 12

    Garganey: 1

    As the morning went on, two dunlins were spotted from the Washland viewpoint and a hobby was hunting overhead.

    There was a pleasant surprise at lunchtime when two red kites drifted west over the visitor centre, being closely pursued by a hobby.

    The reserve team were busy giving the visitor centre pond it's autumn haircut and here is the finished result (including for and after shots!):

    Image credits: David White

    Shortly after they finished, a water rail popped out at the edge of the vegetation and a kingfisher was perched at the back of the pool. 

    The osprey reappeared over Joist Fen viewpoint mid-afternoon and here are some record shots of it:

    Image credits: Christine Nelson

    Thank you very much to Christine for sharing these images with us. 

    Also at Joist Fen viewpoint, a clouded yellow butterfly was on the wing and a goat moth caterpillar was photographed near the viewpoint. 

    I went for a walk down to New Fen viewpoint before work yesterday morning and as I walked along the riverbank, I saw a greenshank, two green sandpipers and five common snipe on the washland. A yellow wagtail flew up from the washland and a grey wagtail flew west. 

    A hobby flew out of East Wood and when I got to New Fen viewpoint, a kingfisher was fishing in front of the viewpoint. A chiffchaff was singing behind the viewpoint and on the way back through the reserve, a smart comma butterfly was on the wing at the edge if East Wood. 

    Volunteer John Ingham went for a walk around the reserve mid-morning. He saw a water rail from Mere Hide and two bearded tits in front of New Fen viewpoint, one adult and one juvenile. Later on in the day, I nipped out onto the reserve and saw a male sparrowhawk over the Fen pools.

    I went for a walk this morning before the rain started and I saw the following on the washland:

    Yellow wagtail: 2

    Ruff: 2

    Greenshank: 1

    Green sandpiper: 1

    Common snipe: 5

    Common sandpiper: 1

    Garganey: 3

    I also saw a late common whitethroat skulking in a bush along the riverbank and heard a muntjac deer barking from the edge of East Wood. 

    After today, the weather forecast looks OK for the rest of the week so why not come and visit? As for me, I am off on leave for a couple of weeks so until then, happy wildlife watching!