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Recent sightings

  • 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

  • 7 September 2014

    7 September recent sightings: Plenty of signs of autumn

    Good morning. It turned out to be an interesting day here yesterday. Things started well when  a yellow wagtail flew over the visitor centre, calling as it went. A chiffchaff was also singing in the car park, which was nice to hear. 

    I went for a walk around the interior path of New Fen North, the first area of reedbed. This path is only ever open in the winter months, so it was good to reacquaint myself with it. I saw lots of garden spiders along the riverbank and a four-spot orb weaver by the stile 

    As I walked around the reedbed, I found this shaggy ink cap by the path:

    Image credit: David White

    A kingfisher shot low over the reedbed and several bearded tits were "pinging" in the south west corner of the trail. A treecreeper was also calling in West Wood.

    As I walked back past East Wood, I found this lovely female common darter perched on one of my seasonal interpretation signs:

    Image credit: David White

    Shortly after I got back to the visitor centre, I got a phone call from Simon, our local bird ringer saying that he had caught a female sparrowhawk in one of his mist nets. I went and had a look and took some rubbish photos of it (I will spare you all of them this morning!)

    Simon and Lee reported a green sandpiper over Brandon Fen earlier on in the day and a brown argus on the wing at the edge of the car park. Lee also spotted a blood vein moth resting in the long grass.

    We had a pleasant surprise at lunchtime when a yellow wagtail perched up on a willow bush at the edge of the visitor centre pond. This was a very welcome "visitor centre window tick" for me! One lucky individual came back reporting a male goosander on the river near Joist Fen viewpoint which is a very early record for this species on the reserve. 

    Meanwhile, further down the reserve, bitterns were seen from both viewpoints and Mere Hide over the course of the day. There were also at least five bearded tits and three kingfishers showing in front of Mere Hide.

    There were at least three hobbys showing from the Washland viewpoint and a yellowhammer was a nice surprise on the riverbank north of East Wood. There were also plenty of butterflies on the wing, with plenty of commas, speckled woods and red admirals around Trial Wood, the second poplar plantation. 

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

    Posted by David White

  • 5 September 2014

    5 September recent sightings: Mind the fog!

    Good morning. Its been nice and mild here this week (once the morning fog has burnt off that is!) Here are a few pictures that have been taken here this week:

    A grass snake swimming:

    Two common darters omniposting in an extremely graceful manner:

    A lovely male bearded tit:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

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

    On Monday, volunteer Paul spent some time up at the Washland viewpoint and saw a marsh harrier. He also saw a group of nine wigeons, which is definitely a sign that wildfowl are starting to move south for the winter. Meanwhile, further down the reserve, a visitor saw a kingfisher from Mere Hide. 

    There were a couple of interesting wader records on Tuesday. Simon and Lee were ringing in Brandon Fen and saw a ringed plover flying east. It was closely followed by at least one spotted redshank. Neither of these species are seen here very often, so they were very welcome indeed!

    Also on Tuesday, the two Nigels spent time out on the reserve over the course of the day. Nigel Malcolm went up to the Washland viewpoint where he saw 96 mute swans and one hobby. Meanwhile, Nigel Taylor had his regular walk down to Joist Fen viewpoint. He saw at least three hobbys over the washland and a common buzzard over Joist Fen viewpoint.

    On Wednesday, Suzanne went for a walk at lunchtime. She saw a common snipe from the Washland viewpoint and a kestrel was hovering over Brandon Fen. Nigel T was down at Joist Fen viewpoint in the afternoon.  He saw a bittern in flight near the bog oak and a bearded tit was showing itself in front of the viewpoint. 

    I returned yesterday after several days elsewhere and shortly after we opened up the visitor centre, Katherine spotted a red underwing moth roosting near the visitor centre door. It turned out to be a lovely day yesterday and I had a great view of a common blue damselfly feeding near the Brecks raised bed. Meanwhile, further down the reserve, a garden warbler was seen in the bushes near Joist Fen viewpoint and at least three hobbys were feeding over the poplar woods.

    Finally, if you are wondering what the slightly unusual title to this blog post is all about, I encountered quite a commotion when I got to work this morning. There seemed to be a large flock of greylag geese circling the visitor centre, seemingly lost in the fog. The fog was so dense that I couldn't actually see them. They were certainly making a racket though! 

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

    Posted by David White

  • 31 August 2014

    31 August recent sightings: Early afternoon update

    Good afternoon. I am not going to be here for most of this week, so I thought I would provide an early afternoon update of what has been going on here over the weekend so far.

    When I arrived yesterday, I was unlocking the date and a marbled orb weaver landed on my hand which was lovely to see. As the morning went on, a barn owl was seen from the Washland viewpoint and a kingfisher was seen from New Fen viewpoint.

    It proved to be another "red letter day" for kingfishers yesterday as not only was one seen from Joist Fen viewpoint, another perched on one of the window ledges in Mere Hide! The lucky couple who spotted it sat transfixed as it perched there for a couple of minutes before flying off. How lucky was that?!

    As the day went on, a black tailed godwit flew north over the reserve and a sparrowhawk flashed low over the visitor centre pond. The great white egret was also seen on the washland north of West Wood, the furthest poplar plantation. 

    It was a lovely morning this morning so I decided to go for a walk around Brandon Fen before work. I spooked a female roe deer at the edge of the path and a treecreeper was calling at the end of the new trail ramp. As I walked along the riverbank, a juvenile marsh harrier was hunting in front of me. As It flew over the grazing marsh, it flushed a redshank which flew off towards the washland, calling as it went. 

    As I walked towards the Washland viewpoint, a group of bearded tits popped up at the top of the reeds next to the path. This included at least one adult male, which I got a really great view of. A little egret flew west along the river and two swallows were feeding over the large pool. 

    A meadow pipit flew south over the Washland viewpoint and there were plenty of common darters on the wing near the pond dipping platform. Volunteer Roy headed down the reserve and saw two kingfishers from Mere Hide. There were also plenty of migrant hawkers on the wing, including several that have perched up obligingly like this:

    Image credit: Tim James

    The great white egret has also been seen from the Washland viewpoint which is a great sign, as it hasn't been seen that close to the visitor centre for several weeks. Here is a picture of it that was taken a few weeks ago:

    Image credit: Ian Tulloch

    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

  • 30 August 2014

    30 August recent sightings: Late summer fun

    Good morning. The weather has been fairly kind this week which is good news for everybody enjoying the last week of the summer holidays. There has been plenty to see over the last week and here are some great images that we have been sent:

    A red admiral:

    A female common darter:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

    A juvenile water rail:

    A male roe deer:

    A kingfisher:

    Image credits: John Gamble

    Thank you very much to Matt and John for sharing these images with us!

    On the subject of kingfishers, these beautiful little birds have been showing really well on the reserve recently. The two current "hotspots" are New Fen viewpoint and Mere Hide. You may also be interested to hear that we have two "kingfisher quest" events next weekend. One is on Saturday and the other on Sunday. Please click on the links for details about how to book places.

    I have a large list of sightings in front of me so I will do my best to pick out as many as I can! Despite the weather on Monday, two stoats were gambolling around in front of Joist Fen viewpoint and a bittern was seen in flight nearby. At least two bearded tits were seen from Mere Hide and at least 50 swifts were feeding over the far end of the reserve.

    On Tuesday, there were six little grebes on the washland and at least four common terns feeding in the large pool. There were dragonflies everywhere and the skies were just full of migrant hawkers. I saw a late black tailed skimmer near the Washland viewpoint and when I reached the viewpoint, a male clouded yellow flew right past me. This was a reserve "tick" for me so I was really rather pleased! 

    I had a walk around Brandon Fen on Wednesday morning and a muntjac deer ran across the path right in front of me. A meadow pipit flew from the washland into the grazing marsh and a common buzzard flew south over the visitor centre. 

    It was really rather dreary on Thursday morning but it did eventually brighten up. Roy saw a kingfisher and a water rail from Mere Hide. He also saw two hobbys over West Wood. The great white egret was also seen in flight near Joist Fen viewpoint. It has been pretty elusive recently so it's good to know that its still here! 

    There were at least 80 coots on the washland yesterday along with three little grebes. Two swallows were feeding over the large pool and a kestrel was hovering nearby.

    We hope to see you soon! 

    Posted by David White

  • 25 August 2014

    25 August recent sightings: A sign of the times

    Good morning. I hope you are enjoying the long Bank Holiday weekend! I will begin with a selection of photos that have been taken here in the last week. Thank you very much to local photographer Matt Walton for sharing them with us:

    A cryptically camouflaged roe deer:

      

    A lovely barn owl:

    A female kestrel:

    Two lovely shots of kingfishers:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

    I will start where I left off on Friday. There were three swifts and three swallows over the visitor centre. A common buzzard also flew over the car park. Although the weather deteriorated in the afternoon, volunteer Lawrence saw a marsh harrier from New Fen viewpoint and a charm of around 40 goldfinches near Joist Fen viewpoint.  

    There was definitely a seasonal flavour to Saturday's sightings, with migration very much in evidence. The Washland viewpoint was the place to be with at least 30 house martins, 12 sand martins, 10 swallows and 10 swifts. There were two hobbys over the poplar woods and kingfishers were very conspicuous. At least two were seen from New Fen viewpoint and two were seen from Mere Hide. 

    As the day went on, an adult and a juvenile water rail were seen from Mere Hide. Suzanne and Roy also saw two sparrowhawks from the visitor centre window.

    It was a pleasant day yesterday and the great white egret was seen from various places along the riverbank over the course of the day. There were two hobbys feeding over the washland and a bittern flew very close to Mere Hide. 

    An eagle-eyed visitor spotted some hare's-foot clover growing alongside the hard track and he also saw several marbled orb weavers. This is the first sighting of this species of spider this year. Please click on the link above for a picture of this attractive species of spider. 

    I popped in with my parents yesterday afternoon and we spent half an hour at the Washland viewpoint. We saw at least two garganeys on the large pool and a yellow wagtail flew over. There were plenty of dragonflies on the wing including several migrant hawkers and large numbers of common darters.

    I returned to the Washland viewpoint with my father this morning and a kingfisher flew right past us just as we got to the viewpoint. There were at least 70 mute swans present on the pool along with over 100 coots and at least 10 little grebes.

    Although the weather forecast isn't looking great for today, it looks set to improve for the rest of the week 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)
11 Sep 2014
Kingfisher (1)
11 Sep 2014
Bearded Tit (3)
11 Sep 2014
Cetti's Warbler ()
11 Sep 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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