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Good morning! The weather has been a lot better than forecast which is good news! There were several photographers around early in the morning on Friday and here are a couple of pictures from Matt Walton:
The sunrise over the river:
A muntjac deer browsing in some vegetation:
A stoat concealing its long tail with a black tip!:
Image credits: Matt Walton
Thank you very much to Matt for sharing these great images with us!
Katherine did here Common Bird Census (CBC) down in Botany Bay at the far end of the reserve on Friday morning. She heard a grasshopper warbler and saw a green sandpiper. She also saw a large red damselfly, which is our first species of Odonata of the year.
I had to make an unscheduled trip down to the far end of the reserve (it’s a long story!) and I saw my first hobby of the year over Joist Fen viewpoint. By the time Katherine headed back through the reserve, there were at least three hunting together over the same area.
I popped up to the Washland viewpoint at lunchtime and there were four common terns fishing. A pair of great crested grebes were also building their nest in the middle of the small pool.
A lesser whitethroat was reported near Mere Hide on Saturday and hobby numbers have been building up nicely. There were at least 12 over Joist Fen viewpoint yesterday along with at least 10 swifts. A nightingale was also heard singing north of the river, opposite New Fen North, the first area of reedbed.
Emma supervised me on my third Common Bird Census (CBC) visit of the year in Brandon Fen this morning. There were more reed warblers and common whitethroats compared to last week. A cuckoo was also singing at the edge of the car park and we disturbed several roe deer alongside the entrance track.
Typically, when we got back to the visitor centre, a lesser whitethroat was singing (albeit briefly) outside the office window. Although it was on my “patch”, I couldn’t count it as we didn’t hear it during our survey!
It’s a lovely day today so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon!
Posted by David White
Good morning! We have been very lucky with the weather this week and there have been plenty of opportunities to take photographs. Here are a few that I just had to share:
A female marsh harrier hunting:
Image credit: Ron Smith
Two images of cuckoos:
Image credits: David Capps
Two images of kingfishers:
Image credits: Tim James
Thank you very much to Ron, David and Tim for sharing these wonderful images with us.
If I start off where I left off on Tuesday, Dave saw two hobbys hunting over Joist Fen viewpoint and Suzanne saw two cuckoos over Trial Wood.
I went for a walk on Wednesday morning and had a nice view of a willow warbler at the eastern edge of East Wood. I could hear a grasshopper warbler reeling in the same area but unfortunately, I couldn’t see it.
I got to New Fen viewpoint and I saw my first cuckoo of the year perched up in East Wood. When I got back to the visitor centre, a brambling was singing in the staff car park and a drinker moth caterpillar was trying to get in to the men’s lavatory!
It was very still yesterday morning so I went looking for warblers. Although I couldn't see the grasshopper warbler at the eastern edge of East Wood, I had a fine view of another one in the north west corner of New Fen North, the first area of reedbed.
I saw a single crane in flight through the gap between Trial Wood and West Wood and a Cetti’s warbler was right out in the open next to the Washland viewpoint which was a pleasant surprise.
As the day went on, a male orange tip flew past the office window and local bird ringer Simon Evans found a female wheatear just behind Mere Hide. He also saw a whimbrel in flight over the entrance track. A great white egret was also on the washland north of Joist Fen viewpoint.
There were several early birders out and about this morning and they saw a single crane in flight from Joist Fen viewpoint. The grasshopper warbler in New Fen North was again showing well and they saw around 40 rather late fieldfares feeding north of the river.
As they walked back through the reserve, they saw four cuckoos flying together over Trial Wood. Volunteer Roy nipped down to New Fen viewpoint and saw two kingfishers. I concentrated on this end of the reserve and my personal highlight was seeing a roe deer in Trial Wood.
There is plenty to see at the moment so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon!
Good morning. After I baffled you all with my blog post about surveys last week, here is a more “normal” post.
Katherine blogged on Sunday and shared some of Tim James’ pictures. Here are a few more:
An extremely showy Cetti's warbler:
A grasshopper warbler striking a pose:
Some lovely landscape images:
Thank you very much to Tim for sharing these great images with us.
I’ll start off where I left off in terms of sightings. A grass snake swam across the visitor centre pond and a marsh harrier was on the ground on the washland.
There were two greenshanks on the washland north of East Wood on Friday and a grasshopper warbler was singing between the visitor centre and East Wood.
Suzanne walked down to Botany Bay on Saturday and saw a bittern over New Fen North. She also saw two kingfishers and two common terns over the washland.
Another greenshank flew over the washland on Sunday morning and Emma saw a bittern at the edge of the visitor centre pond.
There was plenty to see around the visitor centre yesterday. A single crane flew high overhead and a reed warbler was seen at the edge of the visitor centre pond. Emma and Suzanne also disturbed a cuckoo behind the visitor centre.
Meanwhile, up on the washland, there was some excitement when volunteer Paul spotted a little ringed plover at the edge of the large pool. This is the first record of this species on the reserve for a couple of years so Paul was very lucky to see it!
Suzanne and I did our second Common Bird Census (CBC) in Brandon Fen this morning. Don’t worry; I won’t share our map this time round!
Despite it being really rather chilly (and also foggy!) it was a lovely morning. As well as what we heard last Wednesday, a couple of whitethroats had arrived and a reed warbler was singing just east of the washland viewpoint. A collared dove was also perched up behind the visitor centre, which was a reserve year for Suzanne and I!
We also saw a couple of roe deer in Brandon Fen and heard a cuckoo singing in the big willow behind the visitor centre, which is just outside of our patch.
As well as what I have mentioned above, the great white egret is still present and has been seen most days this week from the washland viewpoint. Also, several hobbys have now arrived which is very exciting indeed. Hopefully there will be plenty more to come!
We hope to see you soon.
Well, I've just spent my first weekend for a while on duty in the visitor centre. On the whole the weather has been quite good, and we've had lots of visitors through who have seen some of the newly returned migrants. It's always an exciting time of year, with new birds turning up all the time. So far cuckoo and grasshopper warblers have been evading me. Not the case for Tim James however, who got this cracking photo of a grasshopper warbler yesterday.
Plenty of sedge warblers have been heard and the occasional reed warbler is beginning to arrive and add it's song to the other noises coming from the reedbed!
Photo of a newly arrived sedge warbler by Tim James
So apart from the bird surveys that David mentioned last time, the reserve team will be mainly concentrating on getting the footpaths up to standard for the forthcoming visitor season. In the next few weeks, we hope to have improved the disabled access up to the viewpoint at New Fen North, and resurfaced the length of the hard track between New Fen and Joist Fen. This is no easy task, with about 40 tonnes of hardcore and 20 tonnes of limestone dust currently waiting to be spread by keen staff and volunteers! Please bear with us while we carry this work out. I know access for wheelchairs is quite challenging at the moment, but we are trying to improve it.
Exciting sighting from our volunteers on duty in the visitor centre, a bittern has just walked across a gap in the reeds around the visitor centre pool, and is currently being viewed by at least four people with telescopes! Since we got Paul the digger driver to clear and widen the pool, we've had a number of good wildlife sightings. There are currently a pair of shovelers, and a pair of gadwall on the pool, and a curlew has been seen taking a bath there too!
That's all from me for the moment, I'm off to do some weight training to help prepare me for shifting all that stone later in the week! If you haven't been for a while, why not make it your aim to come this week? It's the time of year when anything can appear, and there's always the chance of a rarity turning up (probably when I have a day off!).
Hope to see you soon!
Posted by Katherine
Good afternoon. We have all been busy this week with various different things. Those of you who have visited the reserve in the last couple of weeks will have noticed that the visitor centre pond has had a haircut:
Suzanne has also been busy maintaining the wildlife garden outside the visitor centre window. This has paid dividends as we now have some fine cowslips in flower:
We have also started doing various bird surveys. Suzanne and I did our first Common Bird Census (CBC) around Brandon Fen this morning. Here is our highly technical map:
...And here is the list of codes to decipher what species we heard and saw:
Image credits: David White
If the above images are giving you a headache, here is an account of what we heard and saw:
We officially started at 6.30am but I got here slightly earlier. I nipped up the mound near the visitor centre and a great white egret was on the washland. A barn owl was also hunting nearby which was nice to see.
A chiffchaff was singing alongside the entrance track and a blackcap was singing in the same area. We took a shortcut through the vegetation near the reserve entrance and spooked at least five roe deer that were grazing nearby.
A song thrush was belting out its loud song in the poplars and a dozen bramblings flew over. Just as we got to the edge of the car park, one of these northern finches was singing its wheezy song.
It was then time to investigate the reedbeds at the eastern edge of the trail. A Cetti's warbler was “shouting” away and we could hear a sedge warbler singing its scratchy song nearby. There was then a moment of excitement when a grasshopper warbler started singing behind us. Although we couldn’t see it, it was great to hear our first one of these elusive warblers this year.
As we headed back towards the visitor centre, there were a couple more sedge warblers singing alongside the path. Another Cetti’s warbler was singing near the Washland viewpoint and a sneaky peak up on the washland revealed a single fishing common tern.
We returned to the visitor centre for a well earned rest and cup of tea. Typically, a willow warbler started singing right outside the visitor centre just before we opened up the visitor centre. As we didn’t hear it during our survey though, we couldn’t count it which was a bit of a shame.
I hope this has given you an insight into what we are up to (and what's around of course!) on the reserve at the moment. We hope to see you soon!
Good afternoon. Until this morning when it rained, the weather has been great for the last couple of days. Here are a few images that were taken on the reserve yesterday:
Two marsh harrier action shots:
A pair of great crested grebes exchanging a gift of weeds:
A greylag goose flapping its wings:
A roe deer at full pelt:
Thank you very much to Matt for sharing these images with us.
I will start where I left off on Thursday afternoon. I popped up to the washland and on the way up to the Washland viewpoint; a brimstone butterfly fluttered by and a stoat shot along the path in front of me.
It was a lovely morning yesterday and a great white egret was on the washland. A sedge warbler was singing near Joist Fen viewpoint and around 80 fieldfares flew over. There were also three roe deer grazing in Trial Wood.
I went for a walk with a small group of people mid-morning and we saw three marsh harriers over New Fen North. A swallow flew over Trial Wood and I spotted a kingfisher whizzing past New Fen viewpoint. There were also two common buzzards circling high over East Wood.
As the day went on, a blackcap was singing in Brandon Fen and our first grass snake of the year was seen swimming across the visitor centre pond. A red kite flew south over West Wood and a green sandpiper was on the washland north of the same wood.
It was a bit bleak this morning but there was a great white egret on the washland along with 13 little egrets. I also saw two bitterns in flight over New Fen North.
There were a couple of newly arrived summer migrants around including a willow warbler near the visitor centre and a couple of sedge warblers singing in the reedbeds. Despite the cold conditions, there was also a comma flying around which was surprising.
I took the Lakenheath Fen Kingfishers Wildlife Explorers club down to Mere Hide this morning and unfortunately, we got caught in an April shower! There were two swallows feeding low over New Fen North and a male marsh harrier was skydancing over the reedbed. A tree pipit also flew over the visitor centre shortly after we got back.
The weather forecast isn't looking too bad for the next couple of days so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon!
Good afternoon! The recent settled weather has meant that things have started to happen here. Here are a couple of pictures from the last week:
A male marsh harrier:
A pair of great crested grebes:
Thank you very much to Matt for sharing these images with us.
The sunset at Joist Fen viewpoint:
Image credit: David White
Our first common lizard of the year was found near the visitor centre on Sunday. A family also found a bronze carabid in Brandon Fen. This is a rather smart looking species of beetle.
A male blackcap was singing at the far end on Tuesday of the reserve and a brimstone butterfly was on the wing in Brandon Fen. A sedge warbler was also heard near Joist Fen viewpoint.
A great white egret was on the washland yesterday morning and there were two bramblings singing in Brandon Fen. Two avocets also flew over the washland, which is a good record for here.
Later on in the day, I went for a walk with some children and we saw three species of butterfly. These were: peacock, small tortoiseshell and green veined white.
A water vole swam across the visitor centre pond and a curlew was bathing in the pond which was lovely to see. We had our staff and volunteer start of season social in the evening and we heard two species of bats over the visitor centre. These were common pipistrelle and Daubenton’s.
I came in early this morning to help out with a bittern survey and I spent a great hour and a half down at very chilly New Fen viewpoint. There were seven roe deer grazing alongside the entrance track and a common whitethroat was singing at the edge of East Wood as I walked down.
A bittern was booming intermittently in front of the viewpoint and another individual also flew out of the reedbed and onto the washland. There were two kingfishers fishing in front of the viewpoint and three marsh harriers were cavorting high in the sky.
There were a few surprises when a red legged partridge appeared on the railway line and a grey wagtail flew over. The biggest surprise came when I got back to the visitor centre: a nuthatch was calling in the staff car park. Believe it or not, this is only the third record of this species on the reserve.
As the day has gone on, a great white egret appeared on the washland and I had to rescue a jack pike that was stuck in some pond weed near the pond dipping platform (all a day’s work as they say!) An orange tip butterfly was outside the visitor centre and our first house martin of the year has just been spotted over the washland.
The weather forecast for the next couple of days isn't looking too bad so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon!
Good morning! The last couple of days have been absolutely fantastic for barn owls and these beautiful birds have been showing really well. Here are a couple of recent pictures of them:
I went for a walk after work on Thursday in the evening sunshine. I saw at least three barn owls. This included one behind the washland pool, one in front of Joist Fen viewpoint and one just behind the visitor centre. A kingfisher was fishing in the river and a green sandpiper was on the washland north of West Wood. A bittern was also grunting in New Fen North, the first area of reedbed.
My luck with barn owls continued yesterday and saw three individual birds before work. This included one behind the washland pool, one over Brandon Fen and a very pale male behind the visitor centre. A great white egret flew over the washland pool and a water pipit was on the washland.
There was plenty to see further down the reserve. Three cranes were seen from Joist Fen viewpoint and at least one bittern was seen in the same area. A Chinese water deer was also grazing in Humphrey’s Paddock, which is a good record for here.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first bird I saw when I got here this morning was a barn owl! It was hunting alongside the entrance track as I drove in. There were three marsh harriers hunting in front of New Fen viewpoint and a bittern was grunting in the reedbed. Two roe deer were also grazing just behind the viewpoint.
An early birder had been down the reserve before us and saw a swallow over West Wood. This is the first record of this species on the reserve this year. A drake garganey was on the washland and a bittern was showing well in front of Joist Fen viewpoint. A drake pochard was also flying around over the viewpoint.
I will leave you this morning with three lovely pictures of bearded tits that were taken here on Thursday morning. I hope you like them:
Thank you very much to Matt for sharing these great images with us. We hope to see you soon!
Good morning! Apologies for the lack of updates recently, there have been technical issues with the blog pages.
As usual, I will start by sharing a few photos that were taken recently on the reserve:
A male reed bunting:
A roe deer:
A pair of whooper swans:
Sunset over the visitor centre:
Image credits: David Mackey
Thank you very much to David for sharing these great images with us.
I have lots to report so I will start by looking back to last Friday (27 March). A female pintail was on the washland with two shelducks. There was a pleasant surprise later on in the day when a group of 27 black tailed godwits appeared on the washland. They were eventually joined by another 11 birds. We thought a count of 38 was good, until Sunday came along (but more about that later!)
On Saturday, a drake garganey was on the washland along with two water pipits. On Sunday, a flock of at least 120 black tailed godwits flew over the reserve. They were soon followed by 170 birds, but the latter flock may have included some of the first group. Our first sand martin of the year was seen over the washland along with a green sandpiper.
I had a walk before work on Monday morning and a barn owl was hunting over the washland. At least four roe deer were grazing in Brandon Fen and a song thrush was belting out its song nearby.
As they day went on, a great white egret was present on the washland north of East Wood. I nipped up to the washland viewpoint at lunchtime and eventually found a drake garganey. As I was walking back to the visitor centre with a visitor, two cranes flew over our head towards the far end of the reserve. They were seen shortly after over Joist Fen viewpoint and apparently kept on going before disappearing beyond the reserve boundary.
It was really rather breezy yesterday morning but a redshank was on the washland north of East Wood and a barn owl was hunting over New Fen North. We had our first pond dipping session of the day a couple of hours later and could hear some common toads croaking at edge of the pond, which was fantastic to hear.
I walked down to Joist Fen viewpoint with a colleague after lunch and saw a cracking male marsh harrier hunting. We also spotted a crane in Humphrey’s Paddock, the grazing marsh near the viewpoint. As we walked back along the riverbank, a visitor found a cracking water pipit in breeding plumage.
I went for a brief walk this morning and a barn owl was hunting over Brandon Fen. There were two shelducks on the washland and a female marsh harrier flew over. We hope to see you soon and happy Easter to you all!
Grid reference: TL7286 (+2km)
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