Lakenheath Fen

Lakenheath Fen

Lakenheath Fen
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Lakenheath Fen

  • 27 August recent sightings: Hooray for happy endings!

    Good afternoon. We have had an interesting couple of days here at Lakenheath Fen. Shortly after I finished blogging on Sunday, a crossbill flew over visitor centre and a great white egret was photographed in front of the Washland viewpoint.

    Katherine, one of our Wardens, went up to the Washland viewpoint on Monday. She saw a great white egret and nine common snipe.

    Yesterday turned out to be something of an unforgettable day here. I went up to the Washland viewpoint before work and saw a great white egret feeding in the large pool. There were also at least 80 sand martins feeding overhead.

    The day began to take a strange turn at around 9.30am when I went to get my walking shoes out of my car. I could hear a very distinctive meowing sound coming from Katherine’s car. I went and got here and we were really rather surprised to find this little chap (not me obviously!) sheltering underneath her car: 

    Image credits: Suzanne Harwood

    It unfortunately seemed that somebody had dumped it there, as it was very hungry and initially quite distressed. We took it into the office and we had a very eventful morning as it explored the office and got to know us all in the process. Fortunately, this tale had a happy ending and we are very grateful to PACT animal sanctuary for taking little “Trouble” as we christened him in for us. Hopefully he will find a new home soon! 

    Anyhow, after all of that excitement. We had a Brecks themed family event and took a walk around Brandon Fen. We saw a juvenile green woodpecker and two roe deer. We also saw a migrant hawker.

    Meanwhile, further down the reserve, six yellow wagtails were seen in New Fen North, the first area of reedbed. A barn owl was hunting over the washland and a muntjac deer was barking in East Wood.

    I had a walk around Brandon Fen this morning and a smart male marsh harrier was hunting over the washland. A green sandpiper flew into the grazing marsh and a yellow wagtail flew east overhead. A kingfisher was fishing in the river and a little egret was feeding nearby.

    I also saw a slightly bizarre sight in front of the Washland viewpoint: A juvenile hobby was mobbing a common tern. Quite why it was doing it is anybody’s guess as not only was the common tern larger than the hobby, hobbys are not really known for eating fish. How bizarre!

    When I got back to the visitor centre, a coal tit was calling in front of the visitor centre and a juvenile great spotted woodpecker was on the feeders behind the visitor centre.

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

  • My goodbye to the Brecks. Guest blog post by Sammy Fraser, Brecks Community Engagement Officer

    It has been a pleasure to be able to feature as a guest blogger on the Lakenheath Fen reserve page. I hope you have enjoyed reading them and learning something new about the unique Brecks landscape.

    Sadly though my time in the Brecks is drawing to an end. At the end of September, I will be leaving my post and starting a new job with the RSPB in Devon at the Exe Estuary reserves: a very different habitat to the Brecks!

    I now have less than a month until my move, but it will be a very busy one! At the moment, we have lots of events on as part of Thetford’s Great Festival, including joint events with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and our big Wild about the Brecks event in Thetford on Sunday 30 August. This looks set to be an activity filled day with bug hunting, bird ringing, pond dipping, guided walks and much more. The event is being held in the grounds of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) offices in Thetford. We are going to be joined by lots of our partners including the BTO, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Suffolk Bat Group.

    Also coming around the corner is our stone-curlew roost events run in partnership with Natural England and will take place at Cavenham Heath National Nature reserve on the Wednesday 2 and Thursday 3 September. These events are always stunning evenings with views of these iconic and usually shy birds in large numbers, their haunting calls as the sun sets and the wealth of other wildlife to be seen. We have a few places left so if you’d like to come along get in touch on 01842 753732 or thebrecks@rspb.org.uk.

    The Wings over the Brecks nest camera project is now winding down for the year, unfortunately we were unable to achieve some of the final footage for the year- the hobbys remained elusive! Despite this, the project has been successful in getting live footage of some of the most elusive and iconic species in the Brecks. This included the first ever live on the nest footage of stone-curlews at Weeting Heath NWT nature reserve, stunning close ups of nightjar on the nest and the capturing of the life of a goshawk chick in the Forest. It has also been a very busy one for events with the project launch event and lots of families events based at High Lodge inspiring families to explore the forest and discover the wildlife found within it. None of this would have been possible without the help of local volunteers involved in the project, whether they were scouring the forest for nests or inspiring others with the passion and enthusiasm at events.

    Despite moving to the other side of the country, I will still be keeping in touch with the team. I am keen to see how the Brecks develops in the future: both through conservation and community work. The Brecks is still a very much an undiscovered landscape, despite its wealth of wildlife, diversity of habitats and fascinating heritage. There is still lots to do to get the Brecks on the map and raise awareness of its uniqueness and international importance- so watch this space!

    I will leave you with some pictures of some of my adventures over the last couple of years:

    Image credits: RSPB Brecks photographer Ian Smith

  • 23 August recent sightings: Show your colours!

    Good morning. I wasn’t intending to do another recent sightings blog post today but as yesterday turned out to be such a great day, I couldn’t resist.

    There were several regular visitors around early yesterday morning and Matt Walton took these fantastic photographs:

    Sunrise over the river:

    Little grebe:

    A pair of common darters:

    Kingfisher:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

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

    Simon Evans, our local bird ringer, was also ringing in Brandon Fen yesterday morning. A cheeky barn owl landed on one his net poles and a couple of waders flew over. This included three common snipe and two green sandpipers.

    Meanwhile, further down the reserve, a bittern was seen from New Fen viewpoint and a kingfisher was seen from Mere Hide. Roy, our regular Saturday volunteer saw a common buzzard and a probable great white egret from Joist Fen viewpoint.

    I went for a walk around Brandon Fen this morning and I spooked a female sparrowhawk. A common snipe flew over and there were several insect species on the wing. This included a small tortoisehell and a very tatty meadow brown. There were plenty of black tailed skimmers on the wing and a migrant hawker landed on the path in front of me.

    I decided to spend some time at the Washland viewpoint and I am very glad that I did. A pair of stock doves flew over closely followed by a single turtle dove which was really nice to see. A kingfisher was hovering just east of the viewpoint and a grey heron was standing sentinel near the viewpoint.

    I heard a greenshank calling in the distance and eventually I heard it directly overhead. It must have been very high as I didn’t see it. However, it was closely followed by at least one more as it eventually did a loop low over the large washland pool. It was another reserve year tick for me, so it was great to see it. A curlew called in the distance although I didn’t see it.

    There were also a couple of summer migrants in the bushes below the Washland viewpoint. This included a singing willow warbler, a common whitethroat in sub song along with rather showy chiffchaff.  As I walked back to the visitor centre, a large white was on the wing along with a gatekeeper.

    When I opened up the visitor centre, a kingfisher shot across the visitor centre pond and there were two juvenile siskins on the visitor centre feeders. A red underwing also landed on the visitor centre door, showing its warning colours as it went.

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