Please note that if you are planning to visit the reserve next week, the B1112 just north of the reserve entrance will be CLOSED 9am-3pm on 3 February for four days, weather permitting. Suffolk Highways will be resurfacing the road during this time.
This will affect access to the reserve from the north (Hockwold direction). Access from the south via Lakenheath village and the Wangford Road will not be affected.
If you have any questions or queries about this, please either ring the reserve office on 01842 863400 or Suffolk Highways on 0345 606 6171.
For once, I haven’t got much to say this week so it’s over to Emma Cuthbertson, our new Warden for her very first Lakenheath Fen blog post. Enjoy!
As ever, there is always plenty of work to do here on the reserve. Last Thursday once again saw the volunteers out in force. Lots of pairs of hands meant we could split into groups and crack on with various jobs on the reserve.
Katherine took a team to the west end of the reserve to continue with the winter programme of scrub removal. This involved removing those pesky willows that keep popping up within the reedbed.
Whilst it is important to remove this scrub (scrub can quickly dry out and take over a reedbed) we always make sure to leave some. This is because it is in itself a very important habitat. Not only do numerous bird species take advantage of the scrub (the Cetti’s warbler for example), but many invertebrate species overwinter within the branches and roots.
The goat moth is a perfect example to highlight the importance of not removing all the scrub on the reserve. It overwinters within the branches of various trees, including willow, and can spend up to four winters within the trees before emerging in the spring!
Here is a goat moth caterpillar that we found at the far end of the reserve a couple of years ago...
Image credit: David White
...And here is a photo of an adult that was caught here last year:
Image credit: Katherine Puttick
As previous blogs have mentioned, reed burning has kept us extremely busy since we had the reed cutting machine with us in December. Many regular visitors will have seen the plumes of smoke rising from the reed over the last few weeks. We are still playing catch up, but I think there is finally light at the end of a long tunnel!
Phil and Darren put their newly gained brushcutter skills into use clearing an area the machine hadn’t quite managed to get to and by the end of the day, they had fully cleared the area.
The rest of us were manning the fires and heaping up reed for yet more fires. Its hard work (no need for a gym membership here!) but very satisfying. At the end of the day, only smouldering remains of reed were left over:
Image credit: Dave Rogers
Being out in the reedbed does provide some pretty special wildlife viewing opportunities as well – it’s not all hard graft! We have been kept company by stonechats, which sometimes even used our spare pitch forks as a handy perch. We were also surrounded by the pinging of bearded tits and we watched marsh harriers glide above the reeds. We even spotted the odd bittern through the smoke!
Heading into my seventh week here at Lakenheath Fen, I am gradually starting to find my way around and get to know the reserve. However, I still find myself getting a bit confused about the names of different areas on the reserve... Getting stuck into Wetland Bird Surveys (WeBS), harrier roost counts and monitoring water levels has proved to be a massive a great way for me to learn more about the site (and to discover the challenge of counting ducks on the reserve!).
One of my highlights, so far, has to be my first sightings of the cranes! Having heard lots about them it was great to see them in the flesh! Here’s to many more days watching them!
And who should pop up on one of our trail cameras not long after, but “Little and Large” themselves:
Image credits: Emma Cuthbertson
We hope to see you on the reserve soon!
Many of you may already be wishfully thinking of the summer ahead during these long winter nights. To be honest, it’s no different for us working at the reserve or in the Brecks!
We are already thinking ahead to the up and coming busy spring and summer months. One aim we are particularly keen to achieve is to get more children connecting with nature. The RSPB already does a fantastic job at getting more children and young adults inspired by all things wild. We run the world’s biggest children's membership club (Wildlife Explorers) and our teenage members (RSPB Phoenix) write their own magazines. We also got into schools and run brilliant activities for schools and families on our reserves across the UK. However, we want to see even more children connecting with the natural world, and we’re working on more ways to do this at Lakenheath Fen!
On a walk around the Brandon Fen family trail last Tuesday, we were looking for ways for families to be able to connect with nature on their walk around the trail. We were also looking for ways to ensure that families learn something about the reserve and having fun while they do that! In the Brecks area of the Brandon Fen family trail, we are looking at taking families through a journey through in time to discover the bizarre but brilliant Brecks landscape. This includes from includes from looking for pre-historic footprints, finding out about the miniature but mighty Brecks plants and learning about those top herbivores in the Brecks: the rabbits! Brandon Fen is also a fantastic trail to see the stark contrast between the Brecks and Fens landscape. It is also a great place to imagine how our ancestors from long ago utilised both of these landscapes. In the future, we are looking to recreate some of those scenes.
Last but not least, for those who are brave enough, we might also be asking for you to take part in a bare foot walk to find out what we mean by one foot in the Fens and one in the Brecks!
Here is a photo of one of our sculptures that was installed by the pond dipping platform last year. Hopefully, as a result of this meeting, there will be more fun things like this in Brandon Fen in the not too distant future:
Image credit: Ali Blaney