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Recent sightings

  • 25 January 2015

    25 January recent sightings: It's Big Garden Birdwatch weekend!

    Good morning. Although the majority of the reserve has been frozen up all week, there has still been plenty to see.

    On Thursday, a water rail was skulking around at the edge of the visitor centre pond and two bitterns were chasing eachother around on the washland. It was work party day and the team were treated to the sight of around 60 whooper swans flying over. More about them later though!

    Suzanne went for a walk around Brandon Fen at lunchtime. She saw a stonechat from the Washland viewpoint and a Cetti’s warbler in Brandon Fen.

    A flock of “wild swans” were also present on the washland, so I went and had a look at them. In total, there were 24 Bewick’s swans and three whooper swans. Two of the Bewick’s swans were ringed and although I couldn't read them, fortunately another visitor did.  

    I reported the ring codes to nearby WWT Welney and here is what I found out: The two individuals were a male and female which had been ringed the previous day in Prickwillow, Cambridgeshire. As the swan flies, that is only around seven miles away so they had probably just come for a look around! Thank you very much to the staff at WWT Welney for their assistance with this.

    It was a cold but lovely day on Friday and ex-Site Manager Norman spent the afternoon at Joist Fen viewpoint. There were plenty of harriers around, including at least 12 marsh harriers and three hen harriers. He also saw at least two bitterns and a barn owl.

    It was a pleasant morning yesterday and local photographer Matt Walton was out and about early. He saw three great white egrets on the washland and took these photos:

    Some fieldfares and redwings along with two Egyptian geese:

    A little egret:

    An assortment of gulls:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

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

    There was plenty to see on the reserve including at least eight bearded tits at Joist Fen viewpoint along with two common buzzards. A barn owl was hunting near the visitor centre during the afternoon and a ringtail hen harrier was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint.

    Meanwhile, closer to the visitor centre, many of us got a visitor centre feeder “tick” yesterday afternoon: four long tailed tits! They must have known that it was Big Garden Birdwatch weekend! A water rail was also skulking around at the edge of the visitor centre pond.

    There were four roe deer on the entrance track as I drove in this morning and a little grebe was present on the washland. We hope to see you soon! 

    Posted by David White

  • 22 January 2015

    22 January recent sightings: It doesn't take too long....

    Good morning. It has been really rather cold this week so wildlife watching has been limited to short forays out onto the reserve. However, you don't necessarily need to be out for very long to see something good!

    I went out briefly on Tuesday morning and here is the view that I had of the washland in the morning light:

     

    If you look carefully, you can see five white dots. Here is a slightly closer view of these five white dots:


    Image credits: David White

     

    Well, two of them are obviously mute swans and the other three are egrets (although due to my rubbish camera, it isn’t obvious what type.) Despite the fact that they all look the same size, the bird in the middle is a little egret and the other two are great white egrets.

     

    A single whooper swan was also present along with around 60 lapwings. I also heard a brambling and a lesser redpoll calling as they flew unseen over my head.

     

    We had a meeting for most of the day but fortunately, that meeting was about the Brandon Fen family trail so we got a chance to walk around it. A chiffchaff was bashing around near the pond dipping platform and a Cetti’s warbler popped up on the top of a bush next to the Washland viewpoint.

     

    As we went further, two bearded tits popped up in front of us and we flushed a common snipe out of the grazing marsh. A pair of stonechats also kept perching up in a willow bush at the eastern edge of the trail.


    It wasn’t a great day yesterday but Suzanne saw a green woodpecker in Brandon Fen along with two bearded tits. She also saw a barn owl hunting in front of the visitor centre later on in the day.


    It was freezing cold when I got here this morning but things started well with two roe deer browsing alongside the entrance track ad I drove in.

     

    Considering that I was only out for half an hour I saw plenty of great wildlife. A barn owl was hunting behind the visitor centre and a great white egret was present on the washland. There were also a family of three Bewick’s swans present, which was nice to see.

     

    As I walked along the riverbank, I spotted a roe deer skulking around in East Wood and a male hen harrier was hunting over New Fen North.

     

    My last sighting was of two bearded tits that were feeding just behind New Fen viewpoint. That's not bad at all for 30 minutes if I may say so myself!

     

    If you are planning to visit this weekend, we have our Big Garden Birdwatch themed bird ringing demonstration on Saturday. Please click here to find out more details. If you are not going to be able to make it this weekend, we hope you enjoy taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch!

    Posted by David White

  • 19 January 2015

    19 January recent sightings: The joys of winter

    Good afternoon everybody. Slightly later than planned, here are some recent sightings from the last couple of days.

    I will start where I left off on Thursday. Ex-Site Manager Norman went down to Joist Fen viewpoint for the afternoon. He saw at least 18 marsh harriers and a male hen harrier.

    One of the pairs of cranes re-appeared on Friday and they spent most of the day in Humphrey’s Paddock, the grazing marsh near Joist Fen viewpoint. A great white egret was on the washland and a yellowhammer flew over the visitor centre.

    It was a nice day on Saturday and there were six bearded tits showing well in front of New Fen viewpoint. At least four marsh harriers were hunting in front of Joist Fen viewpoint and a redshank was on the washland.

    Meanwhile, closer to the visitor centre, a second winter Caspian gull was on the washland along with at least six yellow legged gulls. There were also two barn owls hunting nearby. 

    An adult Caspian gull was on the washland yesterday afternoon along with at least two adult yellow legged gulls. A great white egret was also present along with at least four water pipits.

    Meanwhile, further down the reserve, two cranes were seen from Joist Fen viewpoint. There were plenty of raptors around including a peregrine and two hen harriers, a male and a ringtail.

    There were also good numbers of wild swans around. This included at least 75 whooper swans and two Bewick’s swans

    It was really rather cold this morning and there were three roe deer alongside the hard track huddled together for warmth. Here is a photo of two that local photographer Matt Walton took last week:

    Image credit: Matt Walton

    Thank you very much to Matt for sharing this image with us. 

    There were two cranes showing near Joist Fen viewpoint this morning and a green sandpiper flew over. There were six bearded tits showing well in front of Joist Fen viewpoint and a weasel was seen along the hard track north of Trial Wood. 

    Katherine and I had a walk around Brandon Fen at lunchtime and we saw a great white egret on the washland. A treecreeper was showing in the poplars and a couple of bearded tits were showing well from the riverbank. 

    I will leave you with one more picture that was taken last weekend, of a little egret in flight:

    Image credit: Adrian Stilwell.

    I hope you like it and we look forward to seeing you on the reserve soon! 

    Posted by David White

  • 15 January 2015

    15 January recent sightings: A day early

    Good afternoon! Apologies for two posts in a day but I am going into a local school to talk about the Big Garden Birdwatch tomorrow morning so I won’t be able to blog then!

    I will begin with some pictures from Sunday:

    The washland in the morning sunshine with a great white egret just about visible:

    A close up view of the aforementioned great white egret:

    A female marsh harrier hunting:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

    ...And here are some Big Garden Birdwatch themed images from behind the visitor centre:

    A goldfinch:

    A chaffinch:

    A great tit:

    Image credits: Adrian Stilwell

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

    We had a great view of a barn owl hunting behind the visitor centre on Sunday afternoon and there were plenty of gulls present on the washland. Pick of the bunch had to be an adult Mediterranean gull. This species is quite scarce here so this was a great record. An adult Caspian gull was also present along with at least 14 yellow legged gulls.

    A welcome visitor returned on Monday when a bittern landed at the edge of the visitor centre pond. We haven’t seen one from the visitor centre window for a white so it was great to see once again.

    I popped down on Tuesday afternoon and spent a pleasant hour dodging the showers up at the Washland viewpoint. At least two barn owls were hunting and there were two goldeneyes present on the main pool. The gulls were playing hard to get so I only got brief views of two adult Caspian gulls.

    There were two great white egrets present in front of the Washland viewpoint yesterday morning and a second winter Caspian gull was present in the same area at lunch time.

    I went for a circular walk incorporating New Fen viewpoint this morning and a corn bunting flew south over East Wood. A kingfisher was also hunting in front of the Washland viewpoint which was my first sighting of one this year.

    The bittern reappeared at the edge of the visitor centre pond mid-morning and there was a mixed flock of around 200 fieldfares and redwings in Brandon Fen. A merlin was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint and several bearded tits were seen in the same area.

    The weather forecast for the next couple of days isn’t looking too bad so why not come and visit? Look out for my next recent sightings blog post on Monday morning. We hope to see you soon! 

    Posted by David White

  • 11 January 2015

    11 January recent sightings: A walk on the wild side

    Good morning. The weather has been a bit wild for the last couple of days so I will start with a few more pictures that were taken hear last week, in (mostly) calmer conditions:

    A chiffchaff that was ringed in Brandon Fen last Monday:

    Image credit: Lee Gregory

    A great white egret and a little egret side by side on Thursday:

    A sparrowhawk over Brandon Fen on Thursday:

    The smoky sunset on Thursday evening:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

    One more picture of the sunrise on Friday morning:

    Image credit: David White 

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

    Shortly after I finished blogging on Friday, a barn owl was hunting behind the visitor centre. A great white egret was on the washland along with three goldeneyes.

    As the day went on, there were lots of gulls present on the washland. This included at least three Caspian gulls. This included two adults and a second winter bird. Katherine walked round Brandon Fen late in the afternoon. She saw and unringed chiffchaff, which must mean there are several birds around at the moment. 

    It was really rather windy yesterday morning but I still had a walk around Brandon Fen. When I reached the end of the ramp that connects the trail with the riverbank, two roe deer scampered along the path in front of me and a great white egret took flight nearby. 

    Once the weather had calmed down, volunteers Roy and Emma went out to update the interpretation signs on the reserve. They saw at least four marsh harriers from Joist Fen viewpoint and two common buzzards over West Wood.

    A single whooper swan was feeding with mute swans on the river just north of the first area of reedbed and several bearded tits were calling in front of the Washland viewpoint.

    There were again plenty of gulls to see, including presumably the same three Caspian gulls. There were also at least 10 yellow legged gulls present. 

    A barn owl was hunting near the visitor centre was hunting as dusk fell and a little owl was calling in the distance.

    This morning, I had a quick walk around Brandon Fen and all I could muster was two water pipits which were flying around over the washland. However, one of the “early birders” has just come back having seen two cranes from Joist Fen viewpoint. This is the first sighting of them on the reserve since just before Christmas.  It’s great to have them back so hopefully they will stick around!

    The weather forecast for this week isn’t looking too bad so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon. 

    Posted by David White

  • 9 January 2015

    9 January recent sightings: Gulls & egrets

    Good morning! Gulls and egrets have definitely been the flavour of the week this week. Local birdwatcher and bird ringer Lee Gregory spent three hours up at the washland viewpoint on Monday afternoon. There were over a thousand gulls present, including two Caspian gulls:

    This included a second winter bird, which is the individual in the shot with the black tip to the beak and the black tail:

    ...And an adult, which is the bird in the middle of the shot once again with the white head and white spots on the tail:

    Image credits: Lee Gregory

    There were also at least eight yellow legged gulls present. This included at least six adults and two second winter birds. The highest counts were of 850 lesser black backed gulls and 300 black headed gulls.

    As well as the gulls, there were two great white egrets chasing eachother around and nine whooper swans were present for around 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile, closer to the visitor centre, a barn owl was seen from the visitor centre window. Two marsh tits were seen in front of the visitor centre and a treecreeper was seen behind the visitor centre.

    A male hen harrier was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint that evening. This is the first sighting of this species on the reserve for quite some time so lets hope it sticks around. 

    I returned to work on Wednesday after an extended birthday celebration. I walked around a very frosty Brandon Fen trail and met local photographer Matt Walton on the riverbank. We walked up to the Washland viewpoint and I saw a little grebe on the river. As we walked along, a water pipit flew up beside us and there were three goldeneyes in front of the viewpoint.

    Matt and I went our separate ways at the viewpoint and he took these lovely pictures:

    Dawn over the river:

    One of the great white egrets:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

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

    The weather wasn't great yesterday but Katherine and I had a pleasant surprise when around 65 pink footed geese flew west over the visitor centre. This is the first record of this species on the reserve for almost exactly three years so it was lovely to see them!

    If you are planning to visit this weekend, please bear in mind that it is going to be very windy, especially tomorrow morning. We will be monitoring the situation closely so if have to close part of the reserve, we will let you know with as much notice as possible.

    I will leave you with a picture of the sunrise from this morning. I hope you like it!:

    Image credit: David White

    Posted by David White

  • 4 January 2015

    4 January recent sightings: The sun, the wet and the cold!

    Good morning. It turned out to be a lovely day on Friday and there were plenty of people out and about enjoying the first sunshine of 2015.

    There was plenty to see from the Washland viewpoint and the most unusual sighting of the day was of a water shrew swimming around close to the viewpoint. There were also at least three yellow legged gulls and a Caspian gull in the same area. 

    Meanwhile, closer to the visitor centre, a marsh tit was on the feeders and a kingfisher made a brief visit to the visitor centre pond. A water rail was also skulking around nearby. As we were locking up, we could hear a tawny owl singing nearby, which was a lovely treat.

    It was pretty wet yesterday for most of the day. A rather bedraggled barn owl was hunting near the car park first thing and there were at least 11 goldfinches on the feeders behind the visitor centre feeders.

    Volunteer John headed up to the Washland viewpoint and found a great white egret. This is the first sighting of this species on the reserve this year. There were also two great crested grebes present along with a female shoveler.

    Unfortunately, rain stopped play for most of the day but there was still plenty to see from the visitor centre window. A barn owl flew across the visitor centre pond and there were two water rails chasing eachother around nearby.

    It did eventually stop raining and I heard a brambling and a great tit singing in Brandon Fen. A second winter Caspian gull was also found on the washland.

    Meanwhile, Roy and Emma headed down the reserve and found at least eight bearded tits feeding in front of New Fen viewpoint. As darkness fell, a tawny owl was singing in East Wood and I took this picture of the visitor centre pond:

    Image credit: David White

    I got to work this morning to find the reserve covered in a blanket of freezing fog. Here is what Brandon Fen looked like in the ethereal gloom:

    Image credit: David White

    The fog made viewing conditions almost impossible but I did catch a glimpse of a Cetti’s warbler skulking around near the Washland viewpoint.

    When I got back to the visitor centre, I couldn’t resist taking a picture from the same place that I had the previous evening. What a contrast!:

    Image credit: David White

    I will return with some more recent sightings on Friday so until then, have a great week and we hope to see you soon!

    Posted by David White

  • 2 January 2015

    2 January recent sightings: 50 not out

    Good morning. Now that I am back at work, I better at least try to get back into at least some kind of routine. I will therefore blog recent sightings today and then on Sunday.

    The weather wasn’t exactly ideal yesterday and it got windier as the day went on. However, I still braved the Washland viewpoint to try to add some gulls to my list. I was not disappointed as there was at least one adult Caspian gull present along with at least six yellow legged gulls.

    As the day went on, a merlin flashed across the car park and there were at least eight marsh harriers hunting in front of Joist Fen viewpoint. A peregrine was also seen in the same area.

    I was down here again early this morning with father and we headed down to New Fen viewpoint. The corvid roost was again very spectacular with thousands of carrion crows, rooks and jackdaws leaving their overnight roost in West Wood, the furthest poplar plantation.

    We could see some whooper swans leaving their roost west of Joist Fen viewpoint through the gap in the trees. We saw at least 40 but it sounded like there were more.

    We walked back along the riverbank and there were three great crested grebes in front of the Washland viewpoint. A barn owl was hunting north of the river and a female marsh harrier was hunting over the large washland pool. A linnet flew south over the reserve and there was a lovely flock of long tailed tits behind the visitor centre.

    That bought my reserve year list up to a very respectable total of 50 species. Not bad at all for 9.30am on the 2 January!

    We had a surprise when the cleaners came in: a small tortoiseshell butterfly flutter out of its warm and cozy winter roosting spot! Here it is:

    Image credit: David White

    We put it back somewhere warm so hopefully it will go back to sleep until spring!

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

    Posted by David White

  • 1 January 2015

    1 January recent sightings: Happy New Year!

    Happy New Year to you all! We hope you all had peaceful and enjoyable Christmases.

     I will start the New Year the way I usually do: by announcing the results of our staff and volunteer year list challenge!

    Well, inevitably, after Katherine won by one species in 2012 and I won by one species in 2013, it was a draw this year. Katherine and I tied on 124 species a piece. I have attached the full list below of all 131 species of birds that were seen on the reserve by staff and volunteers during 2014. Here are the full results:

    1. David & Katherine: 124
    2. Suzanne: 117
    3. John: 112
    4. Dave: 103
    5. Ali: 97 (Declared on 8 August when she left for pastures new!)

    We will be doing it again in 2015 so who knows what will happen this year! We have a new participant in our new Warden Emma, so let the fun begin!

    Before I move on to this year, here is a fantastic photograph of an otter that Matt Walton took on Monday:

    Image credit: Matt Walton

    Thank you very much to Matt for sharing this great image with us.

    As usual, I have been out on the reserve this morning and father and I got down to Joist Fen viewpoint for first light. It took a while to get light as it was rather dull but the sky was soon full of thousands of carrion crows, rooks and jackdaws leaving their overnight roost in the poplar woods.

    We did very well for bitterns. We saw three individuals in flight before 8am. At least 21 marsh harriers left their overnight roost in the reedbeds and a total of 22 little egrets flew east along the river.

    We could hear some wild swans even before it got light. At least 130 whooper swans left their roost at the far end of the reserve and a total of nine Bewick’s swans flew over.

    There was plenty to see from the riverbank on the way back including a water pipit, four stonechats and a common buzzard. Our last sighting before opening up time was of two goldeneyes in front of the Washland viewpoint.

    The weather forecast for the next couple of days isn’t looking bad so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon! 

    Posted by David White

Your sightings

Grid reference: TL7286 (+2km)

Great White Egret (1)
27 Jan 2015
Whooper Swan ()
27 Jan 2015
Cetti's Warbler (1)
27 Jan 2015
Marsh Harrier (12)
26 Jan 2015
Water Rail ()
26 Jan 2015
Bearded Tit (4)
25 Jan 2015
Singing/breeding calls heard
Bewick's Swan (4)
22 Jan 2015
Bittern (2)
22 Jan 2015
Barn Owl (2)
18 Jan 2015
Caspian Gull (1)
18 Jan 2015

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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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