Lakenheath Fen

Lakenheath Fen

Lakenheath Fen
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Lakenheath Fen

  • 24 April recent sightings: Reeling us all in!

    Good morning! We have been very lucky with the weather this week and there have been plenty of opportunities to take photographs. Here are a few that I just had to share:

    A female marsh harrier hunting:

    Image credit: Ron Smith

    Two images of cuckoos:

    Image credits: David Capps

    Two images of kingfishers:

    Image credits: Tim James

    Thank you very much to Ron, David and Tim for sharing these wonderful images with us. 

    If I start off where I left off on Tuesday, Dave saw two hobbys hunting over Joist Fen viewpoint and Suzanne saw two cuckoos over Trial Wood.

    I went for a walk on Wednesday morning and had a nice view of a willow warbler at the eastern edge of East Wood. I could hear a grasshopper warbler reeling in the same area but unfortunately, I couldn’t see it.

    I got to New Fen viewpoint and I saw my first cuckoo of the year perched up in East Wood. When I got back to the visitor centre, a brambling was singing in the staff car park and a drinker moth caterpillar was trying to get in to the men’s lavatory!

    It was very still yesterday morning so I went looking for warblers. Although I couldn't see the grasshopper warbler at the eastern edge of East Wood, I had a fine view of another one in the north west corner of New Fen North, the first area of reedbed.

    I saw a single crane in flight through the gap between Trial Wood and West Wood and a Cetti’s warbler was right out in the open next to the Washland viewpoint which was a pleasant surprise.

    As the day went on, a male orange tip flew past the office window and local bird ringer Simon Evans found a female wheatear just behind Mere Hide. He also saw a whimbrel in flight over the entrance track. A great white egret was also on the washland north of Joist Fen viewpoint. 

    There were several early birders out and about this morning and they saw a single crane in flight from Joist Fen viewpoint. The grasshopper warbler in New Fen North was again showing well and they saw around 40 rather late fieldfares feeding north of the river.

    As they walked back through the reserve, they saw four cuckoos flying together over Trial Wood. Volunteer Roy nipped down to New Fen viewpoint and saw two kingfishers. I concentrated on this end of the reserve and my personal highlight was seeing a roe deer in Trial Wood.

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


  • The land of the burrowers: Guest blog post by Sammy Fraser, Brecks Community Engagement Officer

    So, spring is well and truly sprung! No doubt those of you who have visited the reserve will have already clocked the arrival of the summer migrants and the sudden flush of new growth. For me, this time of year signals the kick start in the race to reap the benefits of the summer season before the dark days of winter draw in again.

    Some species on the reserve will already be ahead of the game though. They are famous for breeding profusely these influential species in the Brecks are already bringing the next generation into the world. I am talking about rabbits of course!

    Rabbits were originally introduced in the thirteenth century by the Romans, and the Brecks, with its unique climate and geology was ideally suited to them. The low rainfall and dry, hot weather suited these Spanish rabbits that were used to a warmer climate. . The sandy soil of the Brecks provided ideal conditions for them to borrow into.

    Rabbit warrening soon become a large scale industry in the Brecks supporting a flourishing economy that traded in their fur and meat. With over 20 warrens, rabbits were to dramatically shape the landscape of the Brecks, creating swathes of tightly grazed heathland.

    Here is a picture of one:

    Image credit: Ben Hall (

    It wasn’t just their economic influence though; rabbits were to create the perfect grass heathland conditions in the Brecks. Their heavy grazing and disturbance of soil through borrowing supported an array of specialist plant and insect species as well as ground nesting birds such as the iconic stone-curlew. Today, rabbit grazed heathland in the Brecks still supports an impressive amount of plants, insects and ground nesting birds such as stone-curlews.  

    Here is a picture of a stone-curlew:

    Image credit: Andy Hay (

    You can see this happening in miniature along Lakenheath Fen’s Brandon Fen Trail, where in the up and coming weeks biting stonecrop will be beginning it’s flush of golden star shaped flowers.

    Further afield in the Brecks, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserves offer the perfect opportunity to explore the heaths more and see some of specialist wildlife found on them. Weeting Heath Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve offers the perfect opportunity to safely view stone-curlews without disturbance and East Wretham Heath, another Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve, provides the opportunity to walk around the heathland. So why not plan a visit in the next few weeks to enjoy the rush of spring?

    For more information on these reserves and to plan your visit go to

  • 21 April recent sightings: Weekend warbling

    Good morning. After I baffled you all with my blog post about surveys last week, here is a more “normal” post.

    Katherine blogged on Sunday and shared some of Tim James’ pictures. Here are a few more:

    An extremely showy Cetti's warbler:

    A grasshopper warbler striking a pose:

    Some lovely landscape images:

    Image credits: Tim James

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

    I’ll start off where I left off in terms of sightings. A grass snake swam across the visitor centre pond and a marsh harrier was on the ground on the washland. 

    There were two greenshanks on the washland north of East Wood on Friday and a grasshopper warbler was singing between the visitor centre and East Wood.

    Suzanne walked down to Botany Bay on Saturday and saw a bittern over New Fen North. She also saw two kingfishers and two common terns over the washland.

    Another greenshank flew over the washland on Sunday morning and Emma saw a bittern at the edge of the visitor centre pond.

    There was plenty to see around the visitor centre yesterday. A single crane flew high overhead and a reed warbler was seen at the edge of the visitor centre pond. Emma and Suzanne also disturbed a cuckoo behind the visitor centre.

    Meanwhile, up on the washland, there was some excitement when volunteer Paul spotted a little ringed plover at the edge of the large pool. This is the first record of this species on the reserve for a couple of years so Paul was very lucky to see it!

    Suzanne and I did our second Common Bird Census (CBC) in Brandon Fen this morning. Don’t worry; I won’t share our map this time round! 

    Despite it being really rather chilly (and also foggy!) it was a lovely morning. As well as what we heard last Wednesday, a couple of whitethroats had arrived and a reed warbler was singing just east of the washland viewpoint. A collared dove was also perched up behind the visitor centre, which was a reserve year for Suzanne and I!

    We also saw a couple of roe deer in Brandon Fen and heard a cuckoo singing in the big willow behind the visitor centre, which is just outside of our patch. 

    As well as what I have mentioned above, the great white egret is still present and has been seen most days this week from the washland viewpoint. Also, several hobbys have now arrived which is very exciting indeed. Hopefully there will be plenty more to come!

    We hope to see you soon.