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Good morning. I will start off with some exciting news: Stanley the cuckoo has been on the reserve recently! If you are not familiar with Stanley, he is one of the cuckoos that has been satellite tagged by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). You can find out more about his movements by following this link.
I will start off where I left off with some sightings from Friday. I went for a walk around Brandon Fen first thing to try to hear the turtle dove that was present the previous day. Although I didn’t hear it, I did see it make a brief flight over the poplars. I was very pleased to find a nightingale singing near the eastern end of the Public Footpath, very close to the junction with the main round.
As I walked along the riverbank, I saw my first swift of the year over the washland and there were four common terns feeding in front of the Washland viewpoint. Meanwhile, further down the reserve, a whimbrel flew west along the river and at least 60 swifts were over Joist Fen viewpoint.
As the day went on, stoats were seen near the car park and alongside Trial Wood. A muntjac deer was seen alongside Trial Wood and a green veined white was seen alongside East Wood. The turtle dove was also heard calling in Brandon Fen.
There was plenty to see on Saturday morning. A short eared owl was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint and two whinchats were reported on the riverbank in the same area. A single crane was seen from the viewpoint and at least eight hobbys were hunting overhead. A yellow wagtail also flew over.
Meanwhile, closer to the visitor centre, the nightingale was singing in Brandon Fen along with a garden warbler. A greenshank also flew west over the Washland viewpoint. Local photographer Dave Capps also took these photos of a sedge warbler:
Thank you very much to Dave for sharing these great pictures with us.
There weren’t many reports yesterday but a red kite flew over the reserve which was the highlight of the day.
I had a walk around Brandon Fen this morning and the nightingale was in full song near Wilton Bridge. There was a notable increase in the amount of reed warblers singing and two cuckoos were singing near New Fen viewpoint. Two bitterns were also booming near the viewpoint.
As the morning has gone on, a willow warbler was singing near the visitor centre and a bittern made a long flight over the Washland 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
Good afternoon. There have been some interesting sightings on the reserve over the last couple of days so here is an update for you. There were plenty of cuckoos around on Tuesday afternoon and Site Manager Dave saw a single crane flying from south of the railway line into Humphrey’s Paddock, the grazing marsh just west of Joist Fen viewpoint.
It was a chilly start to the day yesterday morning but there were plenty of grasshopper warblers reeling on the reserve. I heard one around halfway along the riverbank in Brandon Fen. Katherine, Dave and Emma were also doing their respective Common Bird Census’ (CBC). Emma and Dave’s patches overlap slightly so they both saw a grasshopper warbler reeling out in the open at the western edge of Trial Wood.
As the day went on, two collared doves flew over the visitor centre (surprisingly, a difficult species to find here!) and Suzanne saw the grasshopper warbler in Brandon Fen.
It was a cold but bright start to the day today and there were some interesting birds out and about first thing. This included a short eared owl over the washland and our first turtle dove of the year. The turtle dove was heard “purring” at the eastern edge of Brandon Fen, not far from the road bridge. A group of three black tailed godwits also flew over the washland, which is an unseasonal record here.
I went for a walk when I got in and saw a presumably newly arrived grasshopper warbler reeling out in the open at the top of the steps onto the riverbank near the big willow. As I walked along the riverbank, there were two common terns over the washland and the reedbeds were just alive with the songs of reed warblers, sedge warblers, common whitethroats and Cetti’s warblers.
As I walked from the stile towards New Fen viewpoint, a blackcap was singing out in the open at the edge of East Wood. A bittern was booming in New Fen North and a male marsh harrier was hunting over the reedbed.
As I walked back through the reserve a chiffchaff was singing out in the open near the Fen pools and a green woodpecker was calling in East Wood. We have had our office window open this morning and a song thrush was belting out it’s exuberant song in the staff car park. A brambling was also singing it’s much more subdued song at the edge of the visitor car park.
Several hobbys were seen from Joist Fen viewpoint in amongst the swifts mid-morning and a bittern was seen from Mere Hide. A single crane was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint and several bearded tits were seen near Mere Hide.
I will leave you with the up to date “birding map” for the reserve:
I have also attached the up to date first migrant list for this year.
Good morning. It is pretty chilly this morning so I will begin with some photos that were taken in more hospitable conditions.
A bittern from Mere Hide on 6 April:
Image credits: Ian Saggers
Thank you very much to Ian for sharing this great picture with us.
A couple of mine from 17 April:
Image credits: David White
There were plenty of cuckoos around on Saturday and four were seen together at one point. A short eared owl was over the washland and a bittern was seen from Mere Hide. I went up to the Washland viewpoint after lunch and was pleased to find a holly blue butterfly on the wing.
As the day went on, three cranes were seen from Joist Fen viewpoint and three garganeys were seen on the washland north of New Fen north. At least four common terns were also feeding over the washland.
It was a pleasant start to the day on Sunday and I went for a walk before work. I saw my first cuckoo of the year from the Washland viewpoint. A bittern flew across the large washland pool and two common sandpipers were feeding nearby.
As I walked along the riverbank, a crane flew high over East Wood before disappearing north east towards Hockwold. I stopped briefly at New Fen viewpoint and heard a bittern booming. There were also at least three marsh harriers hunting nearby.
As the day went on, our first garden warbler of the year was heard near the visitor centre. Two greenshanks flew east along the river and three whimbrels flew south overhead.
In the afternoon, a cuckoo was being mobbed by two bramblings in Trial Wood. A hobby was hunting over the car park and a smart male brambling was showing well behind the visitor centre.
Site Manager Dave was out and about on the reserve yesterday and he saw three swifts over the far end of the reserve. Suzanne walked around Brandon Fen yesterday lunchtime and heard a grasshopper warbler. She also saw a marsh harrier hunting over the grazing marsh.
Suzanne and I did our forth Common Bird Census (CBC) around Brandon Fen this morning and it was really rather cold. We saw three roe deer and heard a cuckoo. There was also a grasshopper warbler reeling and the reserve was alive with the sound of Cetti’s warblers.
I just have enough space to give you an update on out visitor centre nestbox. A turf war is ongoing between a pair of great tits and blue tits and somebody has now laid three eggs inside it. However, both sets of birds are still coming in and out so the situation is far from clear. Hopefully the eggs will be brooded by somebody soon!
Also, one of the Highland cows in Brandon Fen calved yesterday evening. Mother and calf are both doing well and they can be seen in the grazing marsh near the car park.
There is plenty to see at the moment so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon!
Good morning. I haven’t been here much this week but a lot has happened so without further ado, I will begin. I will start of where I left off on Monday. Emma and I went up to the Washland viewpoint at lunchtime. We saw a common tern from the viewpoint itself and a common sandpiper was feeding with two redshanks just west of the viewpoint.
There was a large arrival of common whitethroats on Tuesday and the reserve was alive with their scratchy songs. A little grebe appeared on the visitor centre pond and a grasshopper warbler was reeling near Mere Hide.
The highlight of Wednesday came in the afternoon when a high flying spoonbill headed north over the reserve. Our first large red damselflies of the year were also seen alongside Trial Wood.
I returned to the office on Thursday afternoon and a brambling was calling in the staff car park. A large white butterfly was also on the wing in front of the visitor centre.
Suzanne and I went for a walk after work and we saw four common terns from the Washland viewpoint. As we walked along the riverbank, we could hear a cuckoo calling in East Wood. Just before we reached the stile, I spotted some lady’s smock in flower at the base of the riverbank. Another name for this pretty plant is “cuckoo flower", as it tends to come into flower at around the same time that cuckoos start calling. Talk about good timing!
We stopped at New Fen viewpoint for a while and heard a bittern booming in the reedbeds. Another cuckoo was also calling in Trial Wood, the middle poplar wood.
Emma saw seven roe deer alongside the entrance track yesterday morning. Our first swift of the year was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint along with several hobbys.
I came down for a walk in the evening and as I drove in, a muntjac deer wandered across the entrance track in front of me. I walked along the riverbank and got these pictures of the lady’s smock, I hope you like them:
I saw a single crane fly from Mere Hide to Joist Fen viewpoint and a bittern flew in the opposite direction. When I got to the viewpoint, a bittern was booming well behind the viewpoint and several bearded tits were showing well near Mere Hide. A male sparrowhawk also flew over and a green woodpecker was calling in West Wood.
It was pouring down with rain when I got here but by the time I got up to the Washland viewpoint, a grasshopper warbler was reeling out in the open. I saw several common whitethroats out in the open and a sedge warbler was showing in the same area.
Another grasshopper warbler was reeling just north of New Fen viewpoint and a brambling was singing in Trial Wood. A cuckoo was also calling in the same wood.
Good morning. The reserve has really come to life recently so it’s time for some recent sightings. I will start where I left off on Wednesday with a few images that were taken by Ian Goodall on that day:
Our first cuckoo of the year:
A skulking Cetti’s warbler:
A juvenile peregrine in full flow:
Image credits: Ian Goodall
As the day went on, our first hobby of the year was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint and a Daubenton’s bat was flying around in front of New Fen viewpoint in broad daylight.
Suzanne and I did our first Common Bird Census (CBC) in Brandon Fen on Thursday. Before we set out, I popped up to the Washland viewpoint and 32 bramblings flew west over the visitor centre just after first light. A male barn owl was hunting near the visitor centre and photographer David Gowing took this photo of it:
Image credit: David Gowing
Thank you very much to Ian and David for sharing their images with us.
As the day went on, there were four garganeys in front of the Washland viewpoint and a reed warbler was singing near the visitor centre. The marsh marigold was also showing well in the pond bed in front of the visitor centre:
Image credit: David White
It was really rather chilly up at the Washland viewpoint first thing on Saturday morning when father and I got up there. We saw three common terns and a smart drake garganey so it was worth getting cold for!
There were some interesting waders around early yesterday morning. A spotted redshank flew into New Fen North and a little ringed plover flew over the Washland viewpoint. A common sandpiper was also showing well in front of the viewpoint.
I came down for a walk with my parents and as we drove in, there were seven roe deer grazing alongside the entrance track. Just before we arrived, five cranes flew over the visitor centre and as we walked down the hard track, we heard a grasshopper warbler singing at the western edge of Trial Wood.
There was plenty going on at Joist Fen viewpoint. There were two bitterns booming near the viewpoint and a small flock of bearded tits were showing well in front of the viewpoint. I saw a distant hobby over the far end of the reserve and at least three cranes flew over. Emma also saw a cuckoo over the far end of the reserve.
I went for a walk around the reserve this morning and although there were no unusual waders around, I did see a pair of oystercatchers and a pair of redshanks. There were two grasshopper warblers reeling between Mere Hide and the Trial Wood viewpoint. A third grasshopper warbler was singing behind the visitor centre as I was opening up the visitor centre.
Just before I go, I will let you know that we now have out visitor centre nestbox camera up and running. There are currently a pair of great tits occupying it and their comings and goings can now be watched from the comfort of the visitor centre.
Good morning. Although the weather has been patchy this week, it’s a gorgeous morning this morning so it’s time for some recent sightings. I will begin with this photo of a wheatear that Site Manager Dave took on the reserve at the end of last week:
Image credit: Dave Rogers
Thank you very much to Dave for sharing this great picture with us.
I will start where I left off and begin with some sightings from Sunday. I was very pleased to find two avocets in front of the Washland viewpoint first thing. This was not only my one hundredth species of bird for my 2016 RSPB Lakenheath Fen bird list, it was also a reserve tick for me as I have never seen this elegant species here in the last seven years that I have worked here.
A barn owl was hunting over the washland and four shelducks were feeding in the large pool. I walked around Trial Wood and spooked two roe deer. There were also several bramblings singing in the wood.
As the day went on 30 sand martins and a swallow were feeding over New Fen viewpoint. A pair of cranes also flew over the viewpoint. Our first yellow wagtail of the year flew over Joist Fen viewpoint and a peregrine was seen west of the viewpoint.
A herd of 12 roe deer were seen along the entrance track and two garganeys were seen from New Fen viewpoint. A bittern also flew over the grazing marsh in Brandon Fen.
It was really rather damp yesterday morning but there were still several sedge warblers singing in Brandon Fen. A couple of willow warblers were singing near the visitor centre and an oystercatcher flew along the river.
It brightened up at lunchtime and Dave and I had lunch with a colleague at New Fen viewpoint. We could hear two different bitterns booming and three cranes flew out of the reedbed in front of the viewpoint towards Mere Hide. A smart male marsh harrier was hunting over the reedbed and a common toad was croaking nearby.
It was a lovely morning this morning and there were at least five roe deer grazing alongside the entrance track as I drove in. I went out armed with my camera and here are some of my pictures. I hope you like them:
A willow warbler was singing in the alders behind the visitor centre and several blackcaps were singing near the visitor centre. Two oystercatchers flew west along the river and I could hear at least two bitterns booming near New Fen viewpoint. There were also cranes bugling near Mere Hide.
Good afternoon. We have had our fair share of April showers over the last couple of days so here are the latest recent sightings. On Wednesday afternoon, Katherine, Emma and Suzanne found an early female whinchat in the area behind Mere Hide. This may be viewable distantly from the path that runs alongside the western edge of Trial Wood, the second poplar plantation. We had a volunteer social in the evening so before we started, Emma went up to the Washland viewpoint and saw a male garganey.
There were at least five roe deer grazing alongside the entrance track as I drove in on Thursday morning and a pale common buzzard was perched up. A willow warbler was singing by the pond dipping platform and I saw my first RSPB Lakenheath Fen swallow of the year over the Washland viewpoint.
As the day went on, a bittern flew over the visitor centre pond and a red kite drifted over East Wood. Suzanne saw a stonechat up on the riverbank and volunteer Lawrence saw a male garganey from New Fen viewpoint.
At the end of the day, Emma put together the very first RSPB Lakenheath Fen birders map, which will hopefully become a regular feature of our blogs and social media posts:
There were some interesting sightings on the reserve yesterday. The female whinchat in the area behind Mere Hide was joined by a wheatear. Katherine was also lucky enough to see a rough legged buzzard circling over the far end of the reserve along with five common buzzards.
The Washland viewpoint was the place to be this morning with a great white egret and three garganeys showing well nearby. An unidentified wader was also feeding at the far end of the pool, which looked most like a spotted redshank. Unfortunately, it was too far away to confirm it’s identity and the light was pretty poor.
I took the RSPB Lakenheath Fen Kingfishers Wildlife Explorer’s club down to Mere Hide this morning and on the way down, we saw two roe deer in East Wood and a muntjac deer just west of New Fen viewpoint. There were several sedge warblers singing, including one that was displaying near the Trial Wood viewpoint.
As we walked up the boardwalk to Mere Hide, two cranes flew up from behind the hide and when we got into the hide, a pair of bearded tits were showing well. A male marsh harrier flew over and a bittern was booming very close to the hide. A chiffchaff was also singing in West Wood north of the hide.
I will leave you with a picture of the marsh marigold that is coming into flower in the bog garden in front of the visitor centre:
P.S. I have also attached our list of first dates of migrant birds to this post. I hope you find it interesting!
There is plenty to see at the moment so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon.
Good afternoon. There has been a lot going on here recently so without further ado, I will carry on where I left off on Saturday.
A common toad was croaking by the pond dipping platform and a brimstone butterfly was on the wing near the car park. Two great white egrets were on the washland and a single crane was seen flying into New Fen North, the first area of reedbed.
As the day went on, another common toad was croaking by the visitor centre pond and a grass snake was seen just down the hard track. A brambling was singing in the alders behind the visitor centre and a peacock butterfly was on the wing in Brandon Fen.
It was a bit of a mad day on Sunday but before it got really busy, the willow tit was seen on the peanut feeder in front of the visitor centre and a blackcap was singing in the staff car park. Three garganeys were seen from the Washland viewpoint and seven roe deer were grazing alongside the entrance track.
We had our grazing themed family fun day and here are some pictures of the animals:
South Down sheep:
Original population Dairy Shorthorn calf:
Norman the goat:
A good time was had by all and it was good to see the reserve very busy.
There were several bitterns booming out on the reserve yesterday and a single crane flew from New Fen North towards Joist Fen viewpoint and a stoat was seen near New Fen viewpoint.
There was some excitement yesterday when a water vole swam across the visitor centre pond. It’s great to know that these elusive mammals are out and about on the reserve.
I went for a walk around Brandon Fen before work this morning. I saw a kingfisher from the Washland viewpoint and a female marsh harrier was hunting over the grazing marsh. A marsh tit was calling in the poplars and a pair of shelducks were displaying to eachother in the rabbit warren.
The reserve is full of ecologists today and they headed down the reserve this morning. They saw a wheatear and heard several bitterns booming. A group of around 15 sand martins were feeding overhead along with a single house martin.
I went and did some pond dipping with a group of children and there was a willow warbler singing right behind the platform. We went for a walk around Brandon Fen and heard a sedge warbler singing in the reedbed.
I went out armed with my camera at lunchtime and took these photos:
The grape hyacinth in the Brecks raised bed:
The cowslips in the wildlife garden raised bed:
Good morning. We have had some lovely weather over the last couple of days which has been great news. I will start where I left off on Thursday with some recent sightings:
The willow tit eventually showed itself on the peanut feeder in front of the visitor centre and local photographer Ian Goodall got these great photos of it:
Thank you very much to Ian for sharing these images with us.
As some of you may have seen on Thursday evening, I did an interview for ITV Anglia News about the 2016 Big Garden Birdwatch results. While I was out and about with the film crew, a water vole was feeding just west of the Washland viewpoint and a common toad was croaking near the pond dipping platform.
A common buzzard was soaring over the Washland viewpoint and two garganeys were also showing well from the viewpoint. As the day went on, 33 shovelers were showing well from the viewpoint and a barn owl was hunting over Brandon Fen. There were also several butterflies on the wing, including brimstones and small tortoiseshells.
As the day went on, two cranes and a great white egret were seen from Joist Fen viewpoint. A bittern flew over the visitor centre pond and an orange underwing moth was reported near the car park. Just as we were locking up, a red kite flew over the visitor centre. Unfortunately for me, I was at the wrong side of the centre so I didn’t see it. Oh well!
I came down for a walk yesterday evening and two little grebes were feeding on the river just near Wilton Bridge. A single crane flew north over Joist Fen viewpoint before landing south of the railway line. Around 10 minutes later, presumably the same bird flew west along the railway line before disappearing behind Trial Wood.
I went down to New Fen viewpoint this morning and saw a single crane flying into the reedbed. A male marsh harrier flew over and a chiffchaff was singing in East Wood. When I got back to the visitor centre, the willow tit had just been seen on the visitor centre feeders and three garganeys had been seen from the Washland viewpoint. A group of seven roe deer were also grazing alongside the entrance track.
If you are planning to visit the reserve tomorrow, please note that we have a family fun day 10am-4pm. Therefore, if you are planning to come and see the willow tit, we suggest you get here early as there will be plenty going on around the visitor centre from around 9am onwards. We hope to see you on the reserve soon.
Grid reference: TL7286 (+2km)
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