On a recent visit to the reserve, I could hardly escape the signs of the spring migrants and the race for all wildlife on the reserve to prepare for the breeding season. Watching the mind blowing aerobatic feats of the hobbys and the screaming swifts above them reminded me of how reliant some of our best loved nature highlights are on insects being present, both for themselves and their young.
In the Brecks, the insects themselves deserve as much attention as the species that feast on them, with many restricted to the Brecks and relying on the wide variety of habitats found in your local landscape.
Lakenheath Fen clearly shows the divide between the Fen and Brecks border, and a walk along the Brandon Fen trail shows you a glimpse into one of the most unusual and rare habitats in the Brecks: sandy heathland. Brecks heaths are home to a wide range of specialist plants, birds and insects.
Most moths found at the reserve, unsurprisingly, are wetland ones, although a few Breckland specialists do turn up in the traps from time to time. If you visit the reserve from May onwards you may be lucky enough to see the aptly named grey carpet- which is unfortunately as grey as it sounds!
A grey carpet:
Image credit: Katherine Puttick
The lunar yellow underwing may look inconspicuous at rest but if you catch a glimpse of its underwings, you will see where is gets its name from! Once widespread, this species is now mainly restricted to the Brecks and the Suffolk Sandlings. This species is recorded annually on the reserve so you have a good chance of spotting one.
The Brecks is also home to some more specialist moths. You will need to venture further afield than Lakenheath to see these though. The Brecks is the last breeding stronghold of the tawny wave where it can be found along forest rides and heathland, flying from mid June and mid July and then again from mid August to September. The strange looking basil thyme case-bearer is entirely restricted to the Brecks and is closely linked to its food plant the basil thyme.
A tawny wave:
There are many more specialist moths in the Brecks- too many to be named! If you want to find out more you can visit: butterfly-conservation.org/4469/specialist-moths-in-the-brecklands.html
If you are interested in coming to see some of the moths that call the reserve home, you may be interested in coming along to our moth morning on Sunday 21 June. Please follow this link for more information.
We hope to see you soon!
Good morning! As you can probably imagine, having Suffolk’s first little bittern since 1979 on the reserve has meant that we have been really rather busy recently! However, there has been plenty of other things going on as these great images show:
Dawn over the washland on Friday:
A pair of variable damselflies oviposting:
A drake shoveler:
An action shot of a hobby:
Image credit: Jon Winnan
I lead a very successful dawn chorus walk on Sunday morning and we had a marvellous view of a bittern in flight from New Fen viewpoint. A male marsh harrier was also perched up in front of the viewpoint which was lovely to see.
There were cuckoos calling everywhere and the little bittern was barking intermittently in New Fen North triangle. A kingfisher was fishing in front of Joist Fen viewpoint and a barn owl was hunting along the river just west of the viewpoint.
As we walked back along the river, a common sandpiper was flying around over the riverbank. A crane flew up behind us and we met some lucky visitors who had just seen an otter fishing on the washland.
The little bittern was seen in flight at around 10.20am and three bitterns were seen from Joist Fen viewpoint. At least six hobbys were feeding over the viewpoint and a painted lady was on the wing nearby.
We went down for another little bittern vigil yesterday morning and we could hear it barking almost constantly. The most exciting thing that happened while we were there was a fly over hobby that caused the little bittern to run a considerable distance through the reeds!
As the day went on, four bitterns were seen display flying in front of Joist Fen viewpoint and a kingfisher was seen from Mere Hide. A grass snake was also seen near New Fen viewpoint and a stoat was seen in the same area.
The little bittern was seen in flight at around 5.50pm and it even got up on the top of the reeds and barked for around 10 minutes! Mark Brown, one of our volunteers managed to get a picture of it:
Image credit: Mark Brown
Thank you very much to Matt, Jon and Mark for sharing their photos with us.
The little bittern was still barking away this morning and I had a walk around Brandon Fen before work. A common tern was fishing over the washland and two cuckoos flew over the grazing marsh. A kingfisher was also fishing in the visitor centre pond.
There is plenty to see at the moment so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon!
Good morning. A more extensive recent sightings blog post will follow tomorrow but in the meantime, here are some pictures of the little bittern. Thank you very much to Jon Winnan for sharing them with us:
Image credits: Jon Winnan
It has been heard barking regularly but is only being seen in flight occasionally. It is still favouring the area that we know as "New Fen North triangle." This is between Mere Hide and Joist Fen viewpoint.
We hope to see you soon!