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Recent sightings

  • 21 November 2014

    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.

    Posted by David White

  • 16 November 2014

    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! 

    Posted by David White

  • 14 November 2014

    14 November recent sightings: November sun

    Good morning. As long as you get the weather right, its a great time of year to come and see both sunrise and sunset on the reserve. Here is an assortment of landscape shots from the last week:

    The gloomy visitor centre pond on Sunday morning:

    Moreorless the same view at the end of the day:

    Sunset over Joist Fen viewpoint on Monday evening:

    Image credits: David White

    Sunrise back towards the visitor centre yesterday morning:

    Image credit: Matt Walton

    Moving on to recent sightings, a large gaggle of geese flew over the visitor centre on Sunday afternoon. It was a mixed flock of around 170 Canada geese and greylag geese. They certainly made lots of noise and turned a few heads when they went over!

    An unexpected first for the reserve was found on Monday when a drake mandarin duck was photographed in front of New Fen viewpoint with two mallards. Sadly, this colourful creature didn't hang around but it was a great addition to the reserve list nonetheless.

    Also on Monday, three kingfishers were seen on the perch at the back of the visitor centre pond and a bearded tit was seen from the visitor centre window. I spent some time down at Joist Fen viewpoint later on in the day and had a great view of the male hen harrier that has been present for the last couple of weeks.

    There were two common buzzards over New Fen viewpoint on Tuesday and six bearded tits were seen near the path to Mere Hide. There were also still one or two small tortoiseshells on the wing in the mild sunshine. 

    I had a nice walk around Brandon Fen before work yesterday morning and saw at least 20 bearded tits feeding on the top of the reed stems from the riverbank. There were at least 78 wigeons in front of the Washland viewpoint and a water pipit flew over.

    Meanwhile, further down the reserve, Matt Walton photographed a great white egret that was flying between Joist Fen viewpoint and Mere Hide:

    Image credit: Matt Walton

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

    There were also two water pipits feeding right in front of the Washland viewpoint, which was a particular treat. A bittern was skulking about at the edge of the visitor centre pond for most of the morning and it was eventually seen swimming across the pool by Suzanne and Tony. 

    The weather forecast is looking mostly dry for this coming weekend so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon!

    Posted by David White

  • 9 November 2014

    9 November recent sightings: Typical November

    Well, the last couple of days have been very seasonal. We have had a bit of sun, a bit of wind and a bit of rain! It was unsettled for most of the day on Friday. As I was opening up the visitor centre, I spooked a female sparrowhawk that was perched on the veranda behind the visitor centre. There was also a pair of stonechats showing well in front of Mere Hide.

    I was pleasantly surprised when I got to work yesterday morning: the sun was shining! Things started well when a muntjac deer wandered across the entrance track as I drove in.  I had a walk around Brandon Fen and had fantastic views of five bearded tits from the riverbank. There were four males and one female and I spent a good amount of time watching their antics.

    As I walked along the riverbank, a water pipit flew up in front of me. There were at least three little egrets visible from the Washland viewpoint. When I got back to the visitor centre, there was a mixed flock of finches feeding in the staff car park. This included at least 12 siskins, eight lesser redpolls and a good number of goldfinches.

    Meanwhile, further down the reserve, a bittern was seen in flight on the approach to Mere Hide and two stonechats were again showing well from the hide. As the afternoon went on, a kingfisher appeared in front of the visitor centre window which was lovely to see.

    It rained a lot overnight so I made sure I wore my wellies for my walk this morning. I walked along the riverbank as far as East Wood, the first poplar wood. It was really rather muddy so I'm glad that I was wearing appropriate footwear! A flock of six little egrets were feeding in the second washland pool, just north of the stile.

    I decided to walk around New Fen North to try and get some pictures. It was so gloomy that none of them are good enough to be shared here! A female marsh harrier was perched up on a post in the middle of the reedbed and there were plenty of bearded tits pinging. Three Egyptian geese also flew north through the gap between Trial Wood and West Wood. 

    As I walked back towards the visitor centre along the hard track, there was some fungi growing in East Wood so I got one photo that I was moderately pleased with:

    Image credit: David White

    The weather forecast for the coming week is mostly dry so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon!

    Posted by David White

  • 7 November 2014

    7 November recent sightings: "Reflecting" back on the week just gone

    Good morning. I will begin this morning with  two images that we have been sent this week that have captured some great reflections:

    A mute swan:

    A cow:

    Christine, who took these two pictures, also captured the fiery sunset on Tuesday evening:

    Image credits: Christine Nelson

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

    We also received some great action shots from Andrew Collier:

    A kingfisher wrestling with a big fish:

    A kestrel doing what it does best:

    Image credits: Andrew Collier

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

    In terms of sightings this week, a single crane was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint on Sunday afternoon and a male hen harrier was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint at dusk. This bird has been seen most evenings this week and you best chance of a sighting is from Joist Fen viewpoint from about 3.30pm onwards.

    There have been plenty of marsh harriers around and the highest count this week was 15 birds hunting together. They were seen from Joist Fen viewpoint on Wednesday evening.

    On Tuesday evening, I saw a peregrine flying overhead. I also had a rather spectacular view of the female merlin that has been present for a week or so. I was watching a group of four marsh harriers circling over the far end of the reserve when it appeared from nowhere and flew vertically upwards towards them. After being shrugged off by the much larger harriers, it whizzed off rapidly towards the railway line. 

    Meanwhile, further down the reserve, Katherine spotted a wood mouse feeding up in a tree at the far end of the reserve. It was busy feeding itself up for the cold night ahead so lets hope it got enough energy to stay warm. 

    On Wednesday, at least 20 pied wagtails flew over Joist Fen viewpoint at dusk and a barn owl was hunting over the far end of the reserve. The peregrine was also seen once again, this time from Joist Fen viewpoint.

    After a freezing cold start to the day yesterday, there were at least 58 redwings in the poplars near the visitor centre. In the afternoon,  a bittern appeared at the edge of the visitor centre pond. Much to the rest of the team's amusement, I was the only one that didn't see it as I was on the phone for the whole time it was visible. Oh well, there is always next time!

    The weather isn't looking too bad for this weekend so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon!

    Posted by David White

  • 2 November 2014

    2 November recent sightings: A brief return to summer

    Good morning. It is feeling a bit more like November this morning (.i.e. its raining!) The last couple of days have felt like August! The good conditions have meant good news for photography so here are some picture that have been taken here in the last week:

    I will begin with some truly exquisite pictures of a kingfisher from last weekend:

    Image credits: Neil & Sarah Wright

    Thank you very much to Neil and Sarah for sharing these images with us. 

    I also went down the reserve on Monday evening to watch the sun go down. Here are two pictures from New Fen viewpoint:

    Image credits: David White

    I will pick up where I left off on Thursday with some recent sightings. A bittern flew over the visitor centre pond and a kingfisher was perched close to the visitor centre window. Seven corn buntings flew over the pond dipping platform and two mealy redpolls flew over New Fen viewpoint.

    Suzanne went for a walk around Brandon Fen at lunch time and she saw a mixed flock of at least 40 fieldfares and redwings. They were feeding with a charm of around a dozen goldfinches which must have been lovely to see. Our last sighting of the day was of a pipistrelle bat  whizzing around over the visitor centre when we locked up to go home. 

    I had a wander around the reserve on Friday afternoon and saw a merlin from Joist Fen viewpoint. As I walked back through the reserve, a great tit was singing in Trial Wood and a water rail scuttled across the track in front of me, squealing as it went. There were also large numbers of migrant hawkers on the wing, making most of the late autumn sunshine. 

    I lead the crane talk and walk yesterday and although we weren't lucky enough to see any cranes, we heard some bearded tits in front of New Fen viewpoint and saw at least five marsh harriers just west of Joist Fen viewpoint. Later on in the day, a peregrine flew over New Fen North, the first area of reedbed and a male hen harrier was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint. 

    Although the weather forecast for today doesn't look great, it doesn't look too bad for the rest of the week so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon!

    Posted by David White

  • 30 October 2014

    30 October recent sightings: Raptor spectacular

    Good afternoon. It has been a good week for birds of prey so I thought I would do a raptor themed blog this afternoon (which includes a sighting of a rare bird of prey on the reserve yesterday!)

    Rewinding back to Saturday, regular visitors Roy and Ken counted a group of at least seven common buzzards passing over the Washland viewpoint. Here are some pictures of them:

    There were also plenty of kestrels about. Here is one flying overhead:

    Image credits: Ron Smith

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

    A merlin has been seen regularly from Joist Fen viewpoint over the last week. Our first male hen harrier of this winter period was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint on Sunday afternoon. Suzanne saw a sparrowhawk over Brandon Fen on Tuesday and a marsh harrier over the same area on Wednesday. 

    Also on Wednesday, a "buzzard sp." was photographed over East Wood mid-morning. The photographers came and showed us the picture straight away and it was immediately clear that it was a good candidate for a rough legged buzzard. The photographers dutifully e-mailed it to us overnight and the consensus from several locals was that it was a juvenile rough legged buzzard

    This is really rather exciting, as it is only a second record for the reserve. The first was back in late April 2003, when one flew high over the reserve. Hopefully it will stick around for the winter so watch this space for any more news of sightings. 

    The raptor theme has continued today as I was filmed for a feature on ITV Anglia news about birds of prey. The camera man really wanted to film a raptor and he (eventually) managed to get some footage of a marsh harrier near the visitor centre. I did have to stop the reserve vehicle rather rapidly to make it possible though!

    The weather is looking great for birds of prey over the next couple of days so why not come and look for them? We look forward to hearing you soon!

    Posted by David White

  • 26 October 2014

    26 October recent sightings: An extra hour in bed? An extra hour on the reserve more like!

    Good morning. As you can see from the title of this blog post, I have already been around the reserve this morning! After having to put up with some horrible, dark, mornings recently, it was great to get up in the light for a change and go for a walk before work!

    I went out armed with my camera and my first port of call was to try out the new steps that connect the grassy path near the visitor centre to the riverbank:

    Once I had safely negotiated one of the only hills(!) on the reserve, I ended up taking pictures of fungi for the majority of my walk. Unfortunately, my fungi identification skills lead a lot to be desired so I can't tell you what these species are. If anybody knows, please comment below:

    Image credits: David White

    As I was mainly looking down rather than up, I didn't see that many birds (it was also really rather windy, which didn't help!) However, I saw at least six little egrets as I walked along the river along with a kingfisher. A common buzzard was north of West Wood and a marsh harrier was hunting over the washland. To be honest though, it was just great to be out on the reserve!

    There was plenty to see yesterday though. I saw two roe deer in Brandon Fen and at least three common buzzards were circling overhead. I also heard a stonechat near the Washland viewpoint. 

    Meanwhile, further down the reserve, Roy saw a bittern from Joist Fen viewpoint along with at least five marsh harriers. A merlin was also seen several times nearby. At least two bearded tits were seen from Mere Hide and there was plenty to see at New Fen viewpoint. There were at least two kestrels and three common buzzards overhead, while a kingfisher was fishing in the pond for most of the day. 

    As the day went on, a probable peregrine flew over West Wood and there were plenty of insects on the wing. This included lots of migrant hawkers and plenty of common darters

    The weather forecast for this week is looking pretty good so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon! 

    Posted by David White

  • 24 October 2014

    24 October recent sightings: Some welcome whoopers and a brief encounter with a wizard

    Good morning. As promised from my blog post on Tuesday, here are the pictures that were taken on the reserve on Monday:

    A redwing:

    An otter showing how long it is:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

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

    Suzanne and John were lucky enough to spot a grey wagtail on the veranda behind the visitor centre on Wednesday. We don't see these charming little birds very often on the reserve, so let's hope it comes back again soon!

    Our meeting yesterday morning was delayed which gave me a chance to have a sneaky peak up at the Washland. From the Washland viewpoint I saw at least 46 wigeons and 12 whooper swans. The whooper swans were "whooping" quietly and it was just lovely to see them for the first time this autumn/ winter period. 

    The local kingfishers were showing well throughout the day yesterday with sightings from both New Fen viewpoint and Mere Hide. There was also a large flock of redwings roaming between Brandon Fen and the poplars in the staff car park. 

    We went down to the west end of the reserve yesterday evening and there were at least 10 marsh harriers hunting over the west end of the reserve. This included at least eight females and two males.

    My luck was definitely in when a female merlin tore across the sky right in front of me before disappearing beyond the west end of the reserve. Again, this was my first "speedy wizard" (or merlin) of this autumn/ period so it was great to see it.

    It wasn't all about birds of prey though. Katherine saw two late swallows fly over Joist Fen viewpoint and I saw two fieldfares fly south. Good numbers of meadow pipits were also trickling through, calling as they went. 

    If you are planning to visit this weekend, the weather isn't looking too bad at all.  Please note that due to recent anti-social behaviour, the roadside barrier will open at 8am at the latest at will close at 6pm. We hope to see you soon! 

    Posted by David White

Your sightings

Grid reference: TL7286 (+2km)

Great White Egret (1)
23 Nov 2014
Marsh Harrier (2)
23 Nov 2014
Water Rail (1)
23 Nov 2014
Kingfisher (1)
23 Nov 2014
Bearded Tit (1)
21 Nov 2014
Cetti's Warbler ()
21 Nov 2014
Barn Owl ()
15 Nov 2014
Shelduck (5)
23 Nov 2014
Little Egret (3)
23 Nov 2014
Buzzard (1)
23 Nov 2014

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Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 52.44839,0.53250
  • Postcode: IP27 9AD
  • Grid reference: TL722864
  • Nearest town: Brandon, Suffolk
  • County: Suffolk
  • Country: England

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