The washland path alterations have been completed here at Lakenheath Fen. It all looks a bit stark at the moment but the vegetation will soon start growing and will soften things up a bit. Culverts have been taken out, ditches dug and banks created.
Photo credit: Ali Blaney - view from visitor centre mound towards car park
The photo above shows a new ditch and bund curving round to the left and a new sandy bank on the right, continuing the existing bank that I was standing on to take the photo. While the earth movements have been completed, the overall work is not quite finished. There are some osier willows to be planted near the dipping pool, which hopefully one day we can use for weaving. There are also plans for a hedge following the curve of the new ditch. These will both require temporary fencing at some point to protect them as they grow.
Earth movements have been carried out west of the visitor centre too, on the grassy trails. A bay has been cut into the reeds that will be tailored to the needs of photographers, although it is not yet finished. The trail itself is currently closed as spoil removed from the bay has been used to raise the grass track. It has been flooded for a while after all the rain so the extra earth is welcome, but it is still rather wet to say the least! Here it is in its current state:
Photo credit: Ali Blaney - new 'photography' bay underway
Our contractor is starting work on our land north of the river in Norfolk - more on that next week! Before the work could start we've been surveying for water voles to make sure we don't inadvertently disturb any. Katherine, Dave and volunteer Tom have been busy looking out for signs and have carefully marked areas to avoid. It's good to know that we already have water voles over in our Norfolk ditches and hopefully after the upcoming work there will be new habitat available for even more of them!
Closer to home, work continues on the raised plant beds outside the visitor centre. The liners have arrived, the bog/marsh bed has been duly lined and filling has commenced.
Photo credit: Ali Blaney - the bog bed progresses
With spring seemingly here, the internal trail around New Fen North reedbed has been closed as usual ready for the breeding season, to reduce disturbance. The trails to the south and east are still accessible. Marsh harriers are sky dancing merrily to attract mates, nest building material is being carried into nest boxes and the geese are pairing up. It has been a beautiful day here with lots of sunshine.....there are even rumours of ice cream deliveries coming soon - watch this space!
The main roadside gate to the reserve will no longer be closed in the evenings. The car park will therefore be accessible for early morning and late evening visits.
We apologise for any inconvenience that has been caused during the short period that we have been closing the gate in the evenings and thank everyone for their patience and understanding.
Good morning. I will begin this morning with an interesting ringing recovery that we heard about about last week: A lesser redpoll that was ringed here on 7 November 2012 was re-trapped last Sunday (23 February) in Balvraid, Scotland. This is between Aviemore and Inverness, which is a whopping 674 kilometres (or 418 miles) from here. It never ceases to amaze me how far some of these birds travel.
This just goes to show how valuable the data is that we receive from bird ringing. Please visit the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) website for more details.
On the subject of redpolls, it was incredibly foggy yesterday morning...
Image credit: David White
...but I still went for a walk around Brandon Fen. As I walked around, a mixed flock of redpolls kept flying around nearby. Although the poor visibility made identification by plumage difficult, the mixture of calls suggested that there were both lesser and mealy redpolls present. Indeed, once the fog had lifted, a visitor identified at least two "mealys" in the flock.
Although the fog didn't feel particularly spring like, there were still a few signs of spring to be found. Here is some ground ivy that was coming into flower at the edge of the Brandon Fen family trail:
Image credits: David White
The alder catkins were also starting to appear which was really nice to see.
Meanwhile, further down the reserve, a lucky visitor was treated to fantastic views of a bittern that was skulking around at the edge of the pool in front of Mere Hide for 45 minutes.
Once the sun came out, there were plenty of birds of prey to see. At one point, there were 10 marsh harriers and four common buzzards sharing the same thermal in front of Joist Fen viewpoint. While all of this was going on, a bittern flew right below them just to add to the excitement.
Several visitors were also treated to views of bearded tits from Mere Hide. The changeable weather has meant that seeing this species has been difficult recently so this is an encouraging sign.
After all of the crane related drama that was going on last week, it seems that everything has returned back to normal now. Our two resident pairs spent most of the day yesterday bugling to each other on the riverbank west of Joist Fen viewpoint which is an encouraging sign. Who knows where the "extra" cranes from earlier on in the week are now and whether they will come back?!
If you are planning to visit the reserve soon, please note that the roadside barrier is still being closed overnight. It will open by 08.30 in the morning and close at 17.15 each evening. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused and once we are leaving it open overnight again, we will let you know. We hope to see you soon!