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It has been a busy week with two work parties. On Tuesday Emma, Phil and Mark went to Joist Fen viewpoint to open up the view there whilst Dave M and I got to cut in front of the New Fen viewpoint. We hope you like the more open vistas and there have been good sightings of kingfishers at New Fen subsequently. Here is a photograph of New Fen I took today in the drizzle...
On Thursday the team were back out tackling the ragwort again, which has been particularly bad this year. They also treated the new benches at the visitor centre with wood preservative.
I was covering the visitor centre this weekend and as we were not too busy with guests I took the opportunity to get out with the mower and cut the seasonal trail around New Fen North. It still needs a little tidying up but is now back open to the public so we hope you enjoy the closer views of the reedbed. Whilst cutting I saw a large grass snake basking on a section I had finished and I also disturbed a muntjac deer who was hiding in the vegetation. I also managed to give the reeds in front of Mere Hide a bit of a trim and visitors got good views of kingfisher there as well this weekend.
We hope to see you soon.
Senior Site Manager
Posted by DaveR
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!
Posted by David White
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:
A pair of common darters:
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!
Good morning! It’s a lovely sunny morning here so it’s time for some more recent sightings.
I went out pulling ragwort with the reserve work party behind Mere Hide on Thursday and despite being followed around by a male sheep (it’s a long story!) it was great to be out on the reserve. While I was hard at work, three common buzzards were circling high overhead and at least four yellow wagtails flew over. A hobby was also hunting in the same area.
When we returned to the visitor centre for some well earned lunch, a red underwing was showing its warning colours as it perched above the workshop door. There was also plenty to see from the visitor centre window. A kingfisher was fishing in the visitor centre pond and there was plenty of activity on the bird feeders. This included two marsh tits and at least four juvenile siskins.
It was a bit grey for most of the day yesterday but there were at least three kingfishers feeding in front of New Fen viewpoint. There were also plenty of migrant hawkers hunting near the visitor centre.
I went for a walk before work and it was lovely in the morning sunshine. Two kingfishers were fishing near the Washland viewpoint and a group of bearded tits were feeding near New Fen viewpoint. A kingfisher was calling near the viewpoint itself and jay was mimicking a common buzzard in Trial Wood.
There were plenty of dragonflies on the wing alongside Trial Wood. These were mainly common darters but there were also several migrant hawkers patrolling the skies at treetop height.
I decided to take a detour around the Fen pools and took a couple of pictures:
Probable rhombic leatherbug:
Two garden spiders:
When I got back to the visitor centre, I met two ladies who had seen a kingfisher fishing in the visitor centre pond and two siskins on the visitor feeders.
A red admiral was also posing outside the visitor centre door:
A red-banded sand wasp was hunting nearby although it didn’t let me get close enough to it to get a photograph.
As the morning has gone on, a family of stoats were seen in the staff car park and there were 90 mute swans in front of the Washland viewpoint.
I just enough space to tell you about a couple of additions to the visitor centre and its surrounds: Firstly, we have a new touch screen computer in the visitor centre, which visitors can use to access the RSPB website.. Secondly, we have some new benches both in front and behind the visitor centre:
Image credits: David White
Good afternoon. There have definitely been plenty of signs of bird movements over the last couple of days. There was an impressive count of 97 mute swans on the washland on Monday. These are mostly non breeding birds that begin to congregate in large groups before dispersing to their wintering grounds.
I went for a walk this morning and there were plenty of birds on the move. I flushed a juvenile green woodpecker near the car park which is likely to be a bird that has recently fledged in nearby Thetford Forest, as they don’t seem to have nested on the reserve this year.
A few summer migrants were on the move including a willow warbler that was singing near the visitor centre and a female blackcap that was feeding quietly outside the visitor centre. A swallow flew south over the Washland viewpoint and a yellow wagtail was calling overhead.
A juvenile kingfisher was fishing in the visitor centre pond, which has probably fledged on the reserve fairly recently itself. The same could probably be said for the flock of bearded tits that were feeding in front of the Washland viewpoint. Although they don’t nest very close to the visitor centre, we quite often find them nearby outside the breeding season.
There were also some interesting mammal sightings this morning. A stoat and it’s young kit was skulking around near the Washland viewpoint. An otter with its cub was also seen feeding in front of New Fen viewpoint at around 11.30am. This is a very unusually sighting, especially in the middle of the day!
Whilst on the subject of mammals, Site Manager Dave and his boss (who is also called Dave!) found a recently excavated wasp nest on the riverbank. This is mostly likely to have been dug up by one of the local badgers, as there were plenty of recent signs of them when I walked around Brandon Fen this morning.
It has not all been about movements and migration this morning though. We did some bug hunting as part of our regular Wild Wednesday sessions of family activities. We found several slightly sinister looking red-banded sand wasps. These delightful creatures lay their eggs inside caterpillars before transporting them back to their burrows and burying them. How lovely!
Image credits: Tim James
We also did some pond dipping. We found a water stick insect, several water scorpions and two of the largest pond snails that I have ever seen! They were being watched closely by the dragonflies that were patrolling the skies. This included a very curious emperor dragonfly and a ruddy darter that kept landing on the pond dipping platform.
I will return with some more recent sightings at the weekend. Until then, enjoy the rest of the week and we hope to see you soon!
Good afternoon. I will begin today with a selection of great images that were taken on the reserve recently by Tanya Carlile:
Bee feeding on teasel:
Image credits: Tanya Carlile
Thank you very much to Tanya for sharing these great photos with us.
It was really foggy on Friday morning and I went for a walk around Brandon Fen before work. A willow warbler was singing near the pond dipping platform and a tree pipit flew over the car park, calling as it went.
I walked back along the riverbank and a banded demoiselle was on the wing close to the path. Several garden spiders were showing off their impressive webs and a goldcrest was calling near the visitor centre.
I have been away this weekend but I have reliably informed that kingfishers were showing well from the visitor centre window over the course of the weekend.
One of our regular visitors walked down to the far end of the reserve on Sunday morning. A barn owl was hunting over the washland and another was hunting near Joist Fen viewpoint. A bittern was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint along with seven bearded tits were seen from the viewpoint. A hobby was feeding north of the river and six common snipe flew over the far end of the reserve.
I returned to work at lunchtime and perhaps unsurprisingly given what I had been told around an hour ago, a kingfisher was fishing in the visitor centre pond! It was lovely to see it and several visitors got the chance to admire it as well.
Sadly, it seems that both of our pairs of cranes have now gone on their summer holidays out into the Fens. Three of “our” birds were seen feeding around 12 miles away as the crane flies on Saturday. At least they haven’t gone far. Hopefully they will come back and visit from time to time over the next couple of months.
With the possible exception of tomorrow, the weather is looking pretty good for this week so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon!
Good afternoon. It took a while, but I have now finally recovered from our two Big Wild Sleepout event! Also, thanks to regular visitor John Gamble, I have managed to identify the mystery beetle that I posted a picture off in my blog post on Sunday. It was a four-banded longhorn beetle, or Leptura quadrifasciata to give it it’s full name! Here are some pictures of it:
Image credit: David White
I will begin with some late news from Saturday morning. When Katherine was sorting out the moth traps, she saw five cranes in flight over the far end of the reserve. They have been very elusive recently so it’s good to know that they are still around.
On Monday morning, a green sandpiper flew over the visitor centre. Volunteers Pete and Simon were ringing in Brandon Fen and they saw some interesting birds. This included a bittern, a hobby and two bearded tits. They also saw three kingfishers, two adults and a juvenile.
As the day went on, a grey wagtail flew Over Brandon Fen and eight long tailed tits were feeding with a goldcrest in the same area. Suzanne was also lucky enough to see a turtle dove in flight over the staff car park.
It was quite a nice day yesterday and a marsh tit was feeding outside the visitor centre. Several four-banded longhorn beetles were seen near New Fen viewpoint and a small red eyed damselfly was resting on a lily pad in the pond bed near the visitor centre.
The reserve team have been out pulling ragwort this morning and while they were out working hard just behind Mere Hide, they saw some good birds. A green sandpiper flew over, closely followed by two yellow wagtails. A common buzzard was also circling overhead.
Volunteer Lawrence went out for a walk at lunchtime and he saw at least four little grebes from the Washland viewpoint. At least six common terns were fishing in the large pool and there were at least 60 mute swans present.
I got a rare opportunity to go and pull some ragwort myself this afternoon so here is a picture of me hard at work for posterity:
Image credit: Katherine Puttick
It was fairly quiet bird wise apart from a hobby that dashed overhead just before we headed back. It was good to get out and help the reserve team, as I don’t get much chance to do so (even know I’m sure I will ache tomorrow!) Perhaps that's why its also know as yellow peril!
There is plenty to see on the reserve at the moment so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon!
Hello there! We have just finished a very successful two night Big Wild Sleepout event so just before I go and have a long sleep, here are some recent sightings for you:
It was a lovely day on Friday and local photographer Matt Walton was out and about early. Here are some of his pictures:
Dawn over the washland:
Some juvenile bearded tits in front of New Fen viewpoint:
He also saw an otter fishing in the river, although he didn't manage to photograph it unfortunately.
While I was putting my tent up, at least five tree pipits flew over. A kingfisher was feeding in the visitor centre pond and three juvenile bearded tits kept appearing at the edge of the visitor centre pond.
Meanwhile, further down the reserve, local photographer David Capps saw a bittern at New Fen viewpoint along with a marsh harrier that was being mobbed by three common buzzards. He also saw at least six common lizards on the approach to Mere Hide.
We started off the event on Friday with a bat walk. We heard common pipistrelles, soprano pipistrelles and noctules. Some of us were also lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a tawny owl on our way back through the reserve.
It was a lovely day yesterday and there were plenty of insects out and about. This female common darter was happy to pose for my camera near the visitor centre:
After a successful astronomy evening, we toasted marshmallows and listened to some more bats near the visitor centre. There were a feeding groups of common pipistrelles overhead and a noctule kept hammering back and forward. There was a feeding frenzy of Daubenton’s bats over the visitor centre pond just before bedtime and a barn owl also flew over.
I lead a walk at 5.30am this morning and it was really nice to be out and about early. Two tree pipits flew south over the visitor centre and a green woodpecker flew across the track in front of us. A tawny owl was a surprise encounter in West Wood and there were a couple of species of waders feeding alongside the riverbank. This included a green sandpiper, an oystercatcher and three common snipe.
After having a look at some lovely moths, it was time to pack our tents away. However, we quickly got distracted when this really rather cool looking beetle was found near the visitor centre:
In my current state of tiredness, I haven’t managed to conclusively identify it as yet. However, it looks like some kind of longhorn beetle so hopefully we will identify it when I am back in later on in the week.
All in all, it was a great weekend and was enjoyed by all. We would like to thank the 51 people who camped over in total over the course of the two nights. We hope to see you all on the reserve again soon!
Good morning. We have had an interesting couple of days here at Lakenheath Fen. I took a group of American cub scouts out on the reserve on Saturday afternoon. Reptiles were very conspicuous. We saw a grass snake near the railway line and at least six common lizards near New Fen viewpoint.
I was out and about representing the RSPB at the Wayland Show on Sunday. Meanwhile, back here, volunteer Norman saw eight green sandpipers flying west over the far end of the reserve.
It wasn't a bad day on Monday and Britain’s largest species of hoverfly could be seen from the office window. Otherwise known as the hornet mimic hoverfly, it was an impressive creature to behold! I popped up to the Washland viewpoint during the afternoon and saw two common terns.
A muntjac deer was feeding at the edge of the entrance track on Tuesday morning. Volunteer Paul Holness also saw five common terns from the Washland viewpoint.
There was an impressive red underwing moth resting above the visitor centre door yesterday morning. Here is a picture I took of one here two years ago:
We had our regular Wild Wednesday session of family activities yesterday morning. We saw a red eyed damselfly resting on a lily pad in the pond raised bed outside the visitor centre.
After doing some pond dipping, we went up to the Washland viewpoint. Much to our surprise, a bittern flew right over our heads! There were also five common terns fishing in the large pool. On the way back to the visitor centre, one of the children spotted a small tortoiseshell caterpillar bumbling across the path. Here is a photo that I took of one here two years ago:
I walked down to Joist Fen viewpoint before work this morning and saw three little egrets feeding alongside the river. A common buzzard was calling in West Wood and several bearded tits were calling near Joist Fen viewpoint.
A water rail made a short flight in front of the viewpoint and a wing tagged juvenile marsh harrier was hunting nearby.
On the way back, I took some time to admire the large flowered hemp nettle that is currently in flower alongside West Wood. I think it’s pretty good looking for a weed if I may say so myself:
The flowers always remind me of bee orchids, which we occasionally get flowering on the riverbank. This is certainly one of my favourite species of plant on the reserve. Arable weed indeed!
A treecreeper was calling in West Wood and there were two juvenile siskins on the feeders behind the visitor centre.
It’s the Big Wild Sleepout event this weekend so there will be plenty going on throughout the weekend. We hope to see you soon!
Grid reference: TL7286 (+2km)
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