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Recent sightings

  • 30 October 2014

    30 October recent sightings: Raptor spectacular

    Good afternoon. It has been a good week for birds of prey so I thought I would do a raptor themed blog this afternoon (which includes a sighting of a rare bird of prey on the reserve yesterday!)

    Rewinding back to Saturday, regular visitors Roy and Ken counted a group of at least seven common buzzards passing over the Washland viewpoint. Here are some pictures of them:

    There were also plenty of kestrels about. Here is one flying overhead:

    Image credits: Ron Smith

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

    A merlin has been seen regularly from Joist Fen viewpoint over the last week. Our first male hen harrier of this winter period was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint on Sunday afternoon. Suzanne saw a sparrowhawk over Brandon Fen on Tuesday and a marsh harrier over the same area on Wednesday. 

    Also on Wednesday, a "buzzard sp." was photographed over East Wood mid-morning. The photographers came and showed us the picture straight away and it was immediately clear that it was a good candidate for a rough legged buzzard. The photographers dutifully e-mailed it to us overnight and the consensus from several locals was that it was a juvenile rough legged buzzard

    This is really rather exciting, as it is only a second record for the reserve. The first was back in late April 2003, when one flew high over the reserve. Hopefully it will stick around for the winter so watch this space for any more news of sightings. 

    The raptor theme has continued today as I was filmed for a feature on ITV Anglia news about birds of prey. The camera man really wanted to film a raptor and he (eventually) managed to get some footage of a marsh harrier near the visitor centre. I did have to stop the reserve vehicle rather rapidly to make it possible though!

    The weather is looking great for birds of prey over the next couple of days so why not come and look for them? We look forward to hearing you soon!

    Posted by David White

  • 26 October 2014

    26 October recent sightings: An extra hour in bed? An extra hour on the reserve more like!

    Good morning. As you can see from the title of this blog post, I have already been around the reserve this morning! After having to put up with some horrible, dark, mornings recently, it was great to get up in the light for a change and go for a walk before work!

    I went out armed with my camera and my first port of call was to try out the new steps that connect the grassy path near the visitor centre to the riverbank:

    Once I had safely negotiated one of the only hills(!) on the reserve, I ended up taking pictures of fungi for the majority of my walk. Unfortunately, my fungi identification skills lead a lot to be desired so I can't tell you what these species are. If anybody knows, please comment below:

    Image credits: David White

    As I was mainly looking down rather than up, I didn't see that many birds (it was also really rather windy, which didn't help!) However, I saw at least six little egrets as I walked along the river along with a kingfisher. A common buzzard was north of West Wood and a marsh harrier was hunting over the washland. To be honest though, it was just great to be out on the reserve!

    There was plenty to see yesterday though. I saw two roe deer in Brandon Fen and at least three common buzzards were circling overhead. I also heard a stonechat near the Washland viewpoint. 

    Meanwhile, further down the reserve, Roy saw a bittern from Joist Fen viewpoint along with at least five marsh harriers. A merlin was also seen several times nearby. At least two bearded tits were seen from Mere Hide and there was plenty to see at New Fen viewpoint. There were at least two kestrels and three common buzzards overhead, while a kingfisher was fishing in the pond for most of the day. 

    As the day went on, a probable peregrine flew over West Wood and there were plenty of insects on the wing. This included lots of migrant hawkers and plenty of common darters

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

    Posted by David White

  • 24 October 2014

    24 October recent sightings: Some welcome whoopers and a brief encounter with a wizard

    Good morning. As promised from my blog post on Tuesday, here are the pictures that were taken on the reserve on Monday:

    A redwing:

    An otter showing how long it is:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

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

    Suzanne and John were lucky enough to spot a grey wagtail on the veranda behind the visitor centre on Wednesday. We don't see these charming little birds very often on the reserve, so let's hope it comes back again soon!

    Our meeting yesterday morning was delayed which gave me a chance to have a sneaky peak up at the Washland. From the Washland viewpoint I saw at least 46 wigeons and 12 whooper swans. The whooper swans were "whooping" quietly and it was just lovely to see them for the first time this autumn/ winter period. 

    The local kingfishers were showing well throughout the day yesterday with sightings from both New Fen viewpoint and Mere Hide. There was also a large flock of redwings roaming between Brandon Fen and the poplars in the staff car park. 

    We went down to the west end of the reserve yesterday evening and there were at least 10 marsh harriers hunting over the west end of the reserve. This included at least eight females and two males.

    My luck was definitely in when a female merlin tore across the sky right in front of me before disappearing beyond the west end of the reserve. Again, this was my first "speedy wizard" (or merlin) of this autumn/ period so it was great to see it.

    It wasn't all about birds of prey though. Katherine saw two late swallows fly over Joist Fen viewpoint and I saw two fieldfares fly south. Good numbers of meadow pipits were also trickling through, calling as they went. 

    If you are planning to visit this weekend, the weather isn't looking too bad at all.  Please note that due to recent anti-social behaviour, the roadside barrier will open at 8am at the latest at will close at 6pm. We hope to see you soon! 

    Posted by David White

  • 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

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Grid reference: TL7286 (+2km)

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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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