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Recent sightings

  • 21 October 2014

    21 October recent sightings: Busy times

    Good afternoon. It has all been a bit mad here recently with Sunday's Race for Wildlife. However, there is still plenty to see and I some pictures that were taken from and around Mere Hide at the end of last week:

    Some lovely shots of kingfishers:

    A female reed bunting:

    A long tailed tit:

    Image credits: David Kenwright

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

    We were treating to an incredible sight from the visitor centre window on Saturday: A bittern and a kingfisher in the same camera lens view at the edge of the visitor centre pond! Hopefully, some photos will follow soon!

    I got in early on Sunday morning and saw a little owl on the entrance track as I drove in. A kingfisher spent most of the day fishing in the visitor centre pond and another was seen from New Fen viewpoint. There was also a large raptor soaring high over the visitor centre which was most likely to be a red kite

    The kingfisher was again present on the visitor centre pond yesterday morning. Local photographer Matt Walton was also here early and photographed an otter fishing in the river. He also saw good numbers of redwings. Images of both species will follow in Friday's blog post!

    Local birdwatcher and bird ringer Lee Gregory spent some time up at the Washland viewpoint and saw a female or first winter garganey. He also saw 107 mute swans, 94 wigeons and 10 little grebes. A pair of stonechats was also nearby. The female was colour ringed, so hopefully we will be able to fund out where it has come from. 

    It has been a bit stormy here today but the sun is shining at the moment. The great white egret was present on the Washland along with several little egrets.

    Please note that due to recent anti-social behaviour, we will be closing the roadside barrier overnight for the next week or so. It will close at 6pm each evening and open again at 8am each morning. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused. 

    A more comprehensive blog post will follow on Friday but until then, have a good week and we hope to see you soon!

    Posted by David White

  • 18 October 2014

    17 October recent sightings. "Well, I'm back!"

    Good morning. Apologies for the lack of updates for the last two weeks, I have been volunteering for the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) at Poda protected area. Here is a picture of me helping out with a reptile survey:

    Image credit: Yuri Kornilev

    Anyhow, now is not the time or place for me to tell you (anymore!) about my holiday so here is what has been going on here recently:

    The recent mild weather has meant good news for the local photographers. Here are a selection of photos that Matt Walton took this week:

    A kingfisher:

    A female stonechat:

    A female bearded tit:

    A male bearded tit:

    Image credit: Matt Walton

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

    I will concentrate on sightings from the last week. On Saturday, there were at least 40 lapwings visible from the Washland viewpoint along with two kingfishers. There were also at least six bearded tits showing in Brandon Fen and two water rails were seen from Joist Fen viewpoint. 

    On Monday, Dave and Suzanne went down the reserve. They saw two bitterns from Joist Fen viewpoint and a common buzzard over the far end of the reserve. Dave also saw two barn owls over Humphrey's Paddock later on in the day.

    There was some excitement on Tuesday when a late osprey flew over the reserve. There were also at least two bearded tits showing in front of New Fen viewpoint. 

    I came down for a little walk on Thursday and was pleased to find reasonable numbers of winter thrushes, as these hadn't reached Bulgaria yet. I saw plenty of redwings and at least two fieldfares which was lovely to see.

    There was plenty going on yesterday and a bittern was skulking about at the edge of the visitor centre pond for most of the morning. It disappeared for a while but was then seen swimming across the pool during the afternoon. 

    What was even more unusual was a kingfisher that perched up on the feeder gantry in front of the visitor centre.  If you are wondering why this is so unusual, the visitor centre pond is on the other side of the visitor centre!

    What was perhaps an old friend returned yesterday when a great white egret appeared in front of the Washland viewpoint. Whether it was the same bird that was present in July and August we don't know but its great to have one back nonetheless!

    We are all hard at work preparing for the Race for Wildlife tomorrow. We hope to see you there!

    Posted by David White

  • 3 October 2014

    3 October recent sightings: Good morning October!

    Good morning all. It has remained dry and mild all week which has been good news for the wildlife that calls the reserve home.  I will begin with some pictures that were taken here on Tuesday:

    A lovely male bearded tit:

    Two female bearded tits:

    A kingfisher:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

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

    There was the welcome sighting of three cranes on Tuesday. They were seen from various places, including Mere Hide and the Washland viewpoint. There were also at least 14 bearded tits showing in front of Mere Hide and a kingfisher was fishing in the visitor centre pond. 

    Katherine went for a walk around Brandon Fen at lunchtime and she saw at least two clouded yellows and a common blue. She also saw a common buzzard circling overhead and at least 23 little grebes from the Washland viewpoint.

    We had a visit from Hockwold Primary School on Wednesday so we spent the day talking about The Wind in the Willows.  I saw my first redwing of the autumn in the car park while I was waiting for the children to arrive and we saw a kingfisher from the visitor centre window during one of the sessions.

    Meanwhile, further down the reserve, a glossy ibis was reported from Joist Fen viewpoint. This is only the second record of this species on the reserve so let's hope it reappears!

    There was some excitement yesterday when an otter was seen from New Fen viewpoint. A kingfisher was also seen with a fish from the visitor centre window. 

    When I arrived this morning, a mixed flock of finches flew overhead. This included at least 12 siskins and five goldfinches

    Wednesday was my last official day in the office for a while now but I will be back in time for our Race for Wildlife on Sunday 19 October. There are still plenty of places available so why not come and take part? You don't necessarily have to run around the courses so why not come along and raise some money for the reserve?

    Just before I go, here is a quick reminder that the bearded tit bonanza event on Sunday is FULLY BOOKED. Unfortunately, we can only accommodate those who have booked places in advance. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused. 

    Have a good couple of weeks! 

    Posted by David White

  • 26 September 2014

    26 September recent sightings: Kingfisher quest indeed!

    Good afternoon. The local hobbys have been out and about this week and here are a few pictures that were taken here earlier on in the week:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

    Thank you very much to Matt for sending these great images over. 

    I have been elsewhere for most of the week but I returned today to lead a special guided walk for a couple who wanted to see the kingfishers that are currently calling the reserve home. Although the kingfishers played hard to get, we did eventually see them (more about that later though!)

    We started off at New Fen viewpoint and there were no kingfishers! It was very breezy which provided us with good views of a female marsh harrier and a distant hobby over West Wood.

    When we reached the gap between Trial Wood and West Wood, there were two hobbys overhead being mobbed by a carrion crow. We had also had a quick look from the south west corner of New Fen North, where we found large numbers of migrant hawkers and ruddy darters feeding in the sunshine. 

    We got to Mere Hide and there were still no kingfishers. However, we saw two bearded tits flying low over the reedbed and a kestrel hunting in front of the hide. We also saw probably the same hobby and marsh harrier that we had seen previously from New Fen viewpoint.

    We decided to head down to Joist Fen viewpoint for one last throw of the dice and suddenly, there were kingfishers. Thank goodness for that! Two birds circled around the pool a couple of times before disappearing off again. We could see a couple of marsh harriers hunting in the distance and a meadow pipit flew over, calling as it went. 

    We walked back along the river and got good views of a little egret fishing at the water's edge. There were also two common buzzards circling nearby along with a hobby

    All in all, it turned out to be a great walk and we (eventually!) saw what we were hoping to see. If you are interested in hiring a guide here at RSPB Lakenheath Fen (it doesn't have to be me, just so you know!) please ring the office on 01842 863400 or e-mail lakenheath@rspb.org.uk; We hope to see you soon. 

    Posted by David White

  • 22 September 2014

    22 September recent sightings: The Long Walk

    Good morning. I went and did a recce for yesterday's "Long Walk" on Saturday. Although it was quite damp, I heard lots of bearded tits and saw plenty of roe deer. There was also a very damp ruddy darter resting on some riverbank vegetation:

    Image credit: David White

    I lead the Long Walk proper yesterday, which is a roughly circular 10 kilometre walk around as much of the reserve as possible.

    Things started well when we took the path south of Trial Wood. There was a lovely patch of common toadflax alongside the path and this garden spider was watching us closely as we went through the barrier at the western edge of the wood:

    Image credit: Simon Morley

    As we walked through New Fen South, there were at least three marsh harriers hunting overhead and a couple of hobbys were tearing around the sky over West Wood.

    When we reached Humphrey's Paddock, the area of grazing marsh near Joist Fen viewpoint, a stoat was scampering up and down the safety bank in front of us. We walked down through the middle of the reserve and as we got to the grazing marsh in Norfolk Fen, a bittern flew across the reedbeds in front of us. I also spotted a four-spot orb weaver by the side of the path. Here I am admiring it:

    Image credit: Simon Morley

    We stopped for lunch in the black barn and a barn owl flew out and disappeared north of the river. I also spotted a common buzzard circling high over Botany Bay.

    As we walked between Botany Bay and Joist Fen viewpoint along the riverbank, we saw several kingfishers. One flew east along the river and at two others flew between Joist Fen viewpoint and Mere Hide. We stopped briefly in Mere Hide and saw another kingfisher and another hobby

    There were lots of migrant hawkers patrolling the sky as we walked along the hard track back through the reserve. There was time for one more surprise just before we got back to the visitor centre: one of the sharp eyed walkers spotted a common newt on the path in front of us. I gently picked it up and moved it to the edge of the path. After a moment's hesitation, it made a dash for freedom into the surrounding vegetation.

    All in all, it was a great walk and we are hoping to run several Long Walks next year. Please keep an eye on the events page on our website for more details. We hope to see you soon. 

    Posted by David White

  • 19 September 2014

    19 September recent sightings: Stars of September

    Good morning. Two species have definitely dominated the headlines this week: kingfishers and hobbys. Both species have been showing very well and have also been performing in front of the cameras. Here are some great pictures that we have been sent this week:

    Some action shots of kingfishers:

    Image credits: Clive Bowley

    Two images of hobbys:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

    Thank you very much to Matt and Clive for sharing these great pictures with us!

    After my mammal spotting antics on Saturday that I talked about in my blog post on Wednesday, I spent the day in the office on Sunday. It was a good job that my office doesn't overlook the visitor centre pond, as I would have been distracted by a kingfisher that spent most of the day fishing and posing at the edge of the pool!

    Paul, one of our volunteers spent some time up at the Washland viewpoint on Monday. He saw at least 261 coots, 63 mute swans and five wigeons. He also found a goat moth caterpillar near New Fen viewpoint. If you are not familiar with these large caterpillars, please click on the link above as they are really rather impressive! 

    It seems that hobby numbers have been gradually building up all week and on Wednesday, there were at least six birds present. This included two over Joist Fen viewpoint, two over East Wood and one over Mere Hide. 

    There was plenty going on yesterday and I started off the day at the foggy Washland viewpoint. A stonechat was flying from perch to perch in front of the viewpoint and a juvenile reed warbler was bashing around in the reeds nearby.

    As the fog lifted a kingfisher appeared at the edge of the visitor centre pond and at least four hobbys were circling over the Washland viewpoint. It turned out to be a great morning for bearded tits. A flock of at least 25 were seen near New Fen viewpoint which is a great count for this time of year. 

    Despite the fact that it was really rather warm, there were a few signs that autumn and winter are not too far away. A small flock of lesser redpolls were in the alders behind the visitor centre and two pochards were visible from the Washland viewpoint.

    I will end on a summery note though as several grass snakes were seen basking in the sun yesterday. We were also treated to the sight of a red admiral and a painted lady feeding on the same flowers in our wildlife friendly plant bed outside the office window. 

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

    Posted by David White

  • 17 September 2014

    Its "bat" time of year!

    I last blogged on Saturday afternoon, just before I had a very successful evening looking for bats with the Lakenheath Fen Kingfishers Wildlife Explorers club. As I said in my post, I had already been lucky enough to see an otter earlier on in the day and a lucky visitor had also seen one from New Fen viewpoint. Sadly, no photos of it were forthcoming so here is a picture of one that was taken very early one morning in June this year:

    Image credit: Nick Patterson

    I didn't know it at the time, but my chance encounter with an otter was the start of what would turn out to be probably one of my best days of mammal watching in Britain ever! 

    We headed out on the reserve with local bat enthusiast Bill Landells, 11 children and their associated adults. It didn't take us long to find our first bats. There were at least two common pipistrelles whizzing around overhead at the eastern edge of East Wood. It was even light enough to catch glimpses of them as they began their evening's feed.

    We then reached the gap between East Wood and Trial Wood, near New Fen viewpoint. Here we were treated to the distinctive "clip-clop" sound of a noctule flying back and forth. When we got to the viewpoint itself, there was a feeding group of common pipistrelles close overhead. 

    We decided to walk back via the grassy path around East Wood. Although there was a large feeding group of soprano pipistrelles feeding overhead, the children seemed more interested in the large variety of spiders that they kept finding! These were mostly marbled orb weavers, with a few garden spiders mixed in for good measure. 

    Just before we got back to the centre, another noctule was flying around overhead and a few more common pipistrelles were feeding nearby.  

    When we got back to the veranda overlooking the visitor centre pond, the view was just phenomenal with the sky full of stars. There were also large numbers of bats feeding over the pond. These were mostly common pipistrelles, with a few soprano pipistrelles mixed in. 

    Although we didn't hear any Daubenton's, this was more than made up for by a "swim past" of a water vole that swam right across the pond, illuminated by Bill's red torch.

    All in all, it was a great evening and it was fantastic to see and hear some of the special mammals that call the reserve home. Please keep an eye on our events page for details of mammal watching events in the future.  

    Posted by David White

  • 13 September 2014

    13 September recent sightings: Sun, fun(gi) & much, much more!

    Good evening. We have had a nice couple of days here at RSPB Lakenheath Fen so here is an update on what has been going on.

    I went for a walk around Brandon Fen yesterday morning and it was a lovely, sunny morning. The Brecks part of the reserve looked really rather autumnal:

    Image credit: David White

    There was plenty of activity over the washland with singles of green sandpiper and common snipe flying over. There were also six wigeons wheeling around overhead. I was at a meeting for most of the day but volunteer Lawrence headed out on the reserve in the afternoon. He spent some time up at the Washland viewpoint and saw two common buzzards, two hobbys and a kestrel. A bittern was also seen from New Fen viewpoint that evening. 

    I went for what turned out to be a very productive walk this morning and saw a female marsh harrier hunting over the washland. It flushed two common snipe as it flew towards the poplar woods. I also caught a fleeting glimpse of an otter just east of the Washland viewpoint which was a nice surprise. 

    While I walked through the curiously named "Field 5026" (which is between the visitor centre and East Wood by the way!), I spent some time watching a four-spot orb weaver spinning its web. Here it is suspended in the air, looking like it is floating:

    When Roy came in, he showed me this curious looking fungus that is growing at the edge of the car park:

    Image credit: David White

    After much head scratching, we decided that it was most likely to be a pestle puffball. However, if any of you don't agree, please comment below as we are not experts!

    While we were puzzling over it, a tiny goldcrest popped out right in front of us which was a treat. Roy then headed up to the Washland viewpoint where he had a great view of a hobby.

    The local kingfishers were showing well from New Fen viewpoint and three hobbys were circling over Brandon Fen at lunchtime.

    As the afternoon went on, Roy spotted at least seven common lizards near New Fen viewpoint and a grass snake behind the visitor centre. He also saw four sparrowhawks over East Wood and a lucky visitor saw presumably the same otter from this morning at New Fen viewpoint. 

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

    Posted by David White

  • 11 September 2014

    11 September recent sightings: Sunny September

    Good morning. I won't be here for most of the day tomorrow so this week, you get Friday's update earlier! 

    It definitely feels like autumn outside and reserve sightings have reflected that. There were at least three hobbys over the washland and Brandon Fen on Monday. Katherine did her first Wetland Birds Survey (WeBS count) of the autumn on Monday morning. Volunteer Mark also spend some time up at the Washland viewpoint in the evening and saw:

    He also saw a barn owl and two kingfishers.

    Local photographer Matt Walton was also around and took these lovely images:

    A long tailed tit:

    A water rail:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

    A bittern was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint on Tuesday and there were also several bearded tits showing nearby.

    There was plenty to see yesterday and Suzanne saw two hobbys over Brandon Fen. Nigel T headed down to Botany Bay, at the far end of the reserve. He saw a hobby over Joist Fen viewpoint and three common buzzards over West Wood. He also saw at least five bearded tits towards the far end of the reserve.

    It turned out to be a great day for bearded tits all over the reserve. Matt Walton spent some time in Mere Hide and got this cracking picture of a male:

    Image credit: Matt Walton

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

    I returned to work after another hectic couple of days away (I won't bore you with the details!) and went for a walk around Brandon Fen. The hybrid-black poplars on the reserve have been suffering from poplar rust since August but now they have started shedding their leaves. It was therefore a very "crunchy" walk along the ramp up to the riverbank. Although it made me very noisy to any rare birds that might be hiding nearby, it did make me feel very autumnal!

    A little egret was present on the large pool in front of the Washland viewpoint and several common snipe flew overhead. I also flushed a couple of meadow pipits as I walked along the riverbank. Meanwhile, further down the reserve, a bittern was seen in flight from New Fen viewpoint. 

    The weather forecast for the next couple of days is looking quite good so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon! 

    Posted by David White

Your sightings

Grid reference: TL7286 (+2km)

Marsh Harrier (2)
12 Oct 2014
Kingfisher (1)
12 Oct 2014
Bearded Tit (2)
12 Oct 2014
Cetti's Warbler (2)
12 Oct 2014
Water Rail ()
11 Oct 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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