Lakenheath Fen

Lakenheath Fen

Lakenheath Fen
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Lakenheath Fen

  • 21 November recent sightings: This week in pictures once again

    Good morning. This week can moreorless be summed up in pictures, so here we go:

    It wasn't too bad a day on Tuesday and Matt Walton took this lovely landscape shot from New Fen viewpoint:

    The great white egret was also present on the washland, looking as elegant as ever:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

    Meanwhile, closer to the visitor centre, there was some excitement when a water pipit was ringed near the visitor centre:

    Image credit: Lee Gregory

    According to Simon, our local bird ringer, this is only the twenty sixth water pipit ever to be ringed in Suffolk and it may well be the first ever to be ringed in West Suffolk! 

    Another feature of this week has been mist and fog. Here is a picture of the sun rising yesterday above a halo of mist:

    Image credit: David White

    Last but by no means least, the local bearded tits have been showing exceptionally well this week so here is a lovely picture of one from New Fen viewpoint yesterday:

    Image credit: Matt Walton

    Thank you very much to Matt and Lee for sharing these great pictures with us! 

    The great white egret has been around all week and tends to favour the pools in front of the Washland viewpoint. As well as showing well in front of New Fen viewpoint, there is also a flock of around 20 bearded tits in Brandon Fen. They were showing exceptionally well on Wednesday morning... if only I had a better camera (and I was a better photographer!) Your best chance of seeing water pipits is from the Washland viewpoint. 

    There are plenty of other things to look out for. I saw bitterns (or a bittern) out on the reserve two days running, which is exceptionally unusual for me. One flew into the grazing marsh in Brandon Fen on Wednesday and one flew west along the river yesterday. I was lucky enough to watch yesterday's bird for around five minutes, as it flapped slowly across New Fen North, the first area of reedbed. 

    An otter was seen from Mere Hide on Wednesday and there were plenty of signs of this elusive creature on the riverbank yesterday morning. The male hen harrier has been seen most evenings this week and Dave had a great view of it from Joist Fen viewpoint yesterday afternoon. 

    Please note that due to calendar constraints, this is probably going to be my last recent sightings post until next Friday so I look forward to posting again soon!

    There is plenty to see at the moment so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon.

  • Odd jobs jobbed

    Firstly, I’d like to start by apologising about the lack of management posts on the blog since Ali left. Being one man down has meant we’ve all been a bit busier than usual! Luckily our fantastic Thursday volunteers have stepped up to the plate and helped us get lots of jobs jobbed. These jobs have included building a rather fabulous extension to the bug hotel (thank you Phil and Roger), which the Wildlife Explorer’s group furnished with lots of grass, leaves, twigs and anything else they could get their hands on that bugs and beasts would use to live in.

      Bug hotel before (photo David White)

      Bug hotel after furnishing (David White)

    Nigel, Su, Richard, and Dave M have been hard at work in the Fen pools near the visitor centre. Nigel re-discovered his strimming moves (after first removing lots of regenerating birch and willow – we’d have a proper thicket if we’d have left them there), while the others had the glamorous job of raking up all the cut vegetation.

      Fen Pools after their annual haircut! (Photo by Katherine Puttick)

    I took Rob and Darren further down the reserve to Mere Hide, where we strimmed and raked some bays around the pool in front of Mere Hide. This does look a bit drastic but we do have a reason for doing it! It can be quite hard to see wildlife in a reedbed during the autumn and winter, especially as reed fringes all of the ditches and pools and doesn’t allow very much room for anything to roost or feed on muddy edges. So to try and create this edge, we drop the water levels (easier said than done in some years), and cut areas of reed to give views into ditches and up channels. By doing this, we hope to encourage wildlife, such as otters, bitterns, water rails and snipe to be a bit more visible. This has certainly been the case in the past few years by doing vegetation clearing at both the New Fen and Joist Fen viewpoints. In fact, very soon after cutting the reed at Mere Hide, a pair of stonechats were seen looking for insects among the reed stubble. And a few days later, an otter was seen emerging from a channel that was previously choked with reed.

      New view from Mere Hide (Photo by Katherine Puttick)

    We will be doing some more cutting would like to encourage feed back about what we are doing at the reserve, so if anyone has any good ideas that they’d like to share, what we could do to improve views of wildlife, and where, please do get in touch either by email or on the forum, or by responding to blog posts. Your thoughts are important to us!  Thank you!


  • 16 November recent sightings: A window out into the wild

    Good morning. The last couple of days have certainly been interesting here. I will start with a couple of kingfisher pictures from Thursday. Thats quite a large fish!:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

    Thank you very much to Matt Walton for sharing these great images with us.

    It poured it down with rain on Friday morning but for the volunteers, friends of volunteers (and occasional staff members!) who took to gazing out of the window at the rain, there was a reward: Presumably the same bittern that has been visiting the visitor centre pond on and off for the last month spent the entire morning skulking about at the edge of the pool:

    Image credit: Dave Rogers

    It was a fantastic opportunity to watch its methodical movements and I spent a happy five minutes simply watching it having a drink! Sadly, it flew off just before lunchtime. However, it was quickly replaced by one of the local kingfishers, which entertained us all with its hovering antics. 

    It did eventually stop raining and once it did, a pair of stonechats was seen from Mere Hide and an otter was fishing in the pool in front of the hide. This is certainly one of the first sightings of one of these elusive creatures in front of the hide so this was particularly exciting!

    The last sightings of the day came when Roy spotted a barn owl and another pair of stonechats from the Washland viewpoint. All in all, the day didn't turn out too bad in the end!

    I went for a walk in the fog yesterday morning and despite the distinct lack of visibility, I saw a redshank on the second washland pool along with three little egrets. I also saw a muntjac deer scampering through Trial Wood. 

    Once the fog lifted, I spent my lunch break looking at gulls up at the Washland viewpoint (as you do!) There were 29 lesser black backed gulls and three common gulls. There were also two water pipits in front of the viewpoint. I even managed to get one through the telescope briefly, which was good to see. 

    As the day went on, a water rail was skulking around at the edge of the visitor centre pond and presumably the same otter from Friday was seen from Mere Hide. There were at least eight marsh harriers hunting over the reedbeds and a kingfisher was seen from the riverbank. 

    There is plenty to see at the moment so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon!