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Recent sightings

  • 2 July 2015

    2 July recent sightings: Hot enough for you?!

    Good afternoon. It has been really rather warm recently, hasn’t it?! I will begin my posting some pictures that were taken here last Saturday, courtesy of Matt Walton:

    Sunrise over the river:

    An otter fishing in the river:

    A barn owl hunting over the washland:

    A flying bittern:

    A four spotted chaser:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

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

    A hobby was over the washland on Monday lunchtime and a common buzzard was overhead. Suzanne saw a stoat in Brandon Fen and three curlews flew over the visitor centre.

    There were plenty of invertebrates on the wing including good numbers of meadow browns. Several Roesel’s bush crickets were buzzing away near the Washland viewpoint and lots of banded demoiselles were feeding over the river. 

    I went for a walk before work on Tuesday and saw two cuckoos in and around East Wood. A painted lady was on the wing on the riverbank and there were three species of skippers on the wing. This included several large skippers, lots of small skippers and one or two Essex skippers

    It was very warm yesterday but several people were out and about despite the extreme temperatures. A kingfisher was seen from New Fen viewpoint and several bittern flights were seen from Joist Fen viewpoint. A green sandpiper also flew over.

    The little bittern was heard barking in New Fen North triangle. It’s great to know that it is still around! 

    I went for a walk before work this morning and a cuckoo was calling in East Wood. There were several male black tailed skimmers basking on the riverbank and a comma was posing alongside the Public Footpath. 

    An emperor dragonfly was patrolling the skies in front of New Fen viewpoint and a common tern flew over. A garden warbler was also singing in East Wood. 

    The reserve team have done a bittern survey this morning and volunteer Darren won the prize for the most amount of flights: 14 just west of Joist Fen viewpoint! A single crane also made a brief flight in the same area.

    Emma was based down at the far end of the reserve and she was startled by a large grass snake that slithered across the path in front of her. 

    If you are planning to visit this weekend, you may be interested to hear that as it is Independence Day on Saturday, the RAF’s Red Arrows display team will be displaying over nearby RAF Feltwell at 4pm. The Washland viewpoint is a good place to watch the display. 

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

    Posted by David White

  • 29 June 2015

    29 June recent sightings: A bug's life

    Good morning! The recent warm weather has encouraged plenty of funky looking insects to get out exploring the reserve. Thank you very much to Simon Jeffs for sharing the below pictures that he took here and at Weeting Heath NWT reserve. Most of these species can be found at both reserves, just in case you are wondering.

    A golden-bloomed grey longhorn beetle, taken here:

    Stenurella melanura, a type of beetle, taken here:

    Strangalia maculata, a type of beetle, taken at Weeting Heath NWT reserve:

    A garden chafer, taken at Weeting Heath NWT reserve:

    Volucella pelluscens, a type of hoverfly, taken at Weeting Heath NWT reserve:

    Image credits: Simon Jeffs

    Thank you very much to Simon Jeffs for sharing these great images with us.

    The little bittern was barking in New Fen North triangle on Friday and a great white egret appeared on the washland.

    There was also plenty to see from the visitor centre window. A Chinese water deer appeared at the edge of the visitor centre pond and a large skipper was feeding on the viper’s bugloss in front of the visitor centre. 

    It wasn't a bad day on and local photographer Matt Walton was here early. He saw an otter fishing in the river and a barn owl flew in front of the Washland viewpoint. He also saw a roe deer near the visitor centre.

    There were several people who were lucky enough to see bitterns in flight over the course of the day. There were also good numbers of four spotted chasers on the wing. 

    As the day went on, a kingfisher was fishing in the visitor centre pond and several emperor dragonflies were patrolling over the pond.

    Meanwhile, further down the reserve, the little bittern was barking in its usual place, just east of Joist Fen viewpoint. A great white egret was also on the washland.

    It’s been a lovely morning so far this morning and a rather ragged red admiral has been flying around outside the visitor centre. Katherine and I also had a surprise when we returned from taking the truck to the garage: A grey squirrel ran along the entrance track in front of us! Surprisingly, this is only a second record for the reserve. 

    The weather is looking nice and sunny for the week ahead so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon! 

    Posted by David White

  • 26 June 2015

    26 June recent sightings: Some welcome warm weather

    Good morning. After yesterday morning’s mainly retrospective blog post, I thought I would post some more sightings from the last couple of days.

    The little bittern had not been heard for a week until this morning. To be honest, we all thought that it had gone but it HAS been heard in New Fen North triangle, just east of Joist Fen viewpoint so it is definitely still here after all!  

    The reserve team did a bittern survey yesterday and there was plenty going on. As well as bitterns, volunteers Janet and Pete were based around New Fen North and saw plenty of interesting wildlife.

    Janet was based at New Fen viewpoint and saw a kingfisher and a buzzard. Pete was based at the western edge of the same reedbed and saw some young bearded tits, an emperor dragonfly and a brown hawker

    Suzanne had a walk around Brandon Fen and we saw a large grass snake slither across the path in front of us. There were plenty of cinnabar moth caterpillars feeding on the ragwort and a cuckoo was calling nearby. 

    Volunteer Lawrence went up to the Washland viewpoint shortly after and saw two hobbys and five lapwings. He also saw a buzzard over the visitor centre.

    I had a very pleasant walk around the reserve before work this morning. There were lots of five spot burnet moths resting alongside the riverbank:

    Image credits: David White

    A female banded demoiselle was resting on a bramble bush and two marsh harriers were over the washland. A barn owl also flew west along the river. 

    A blue tailed damselfly was feeding alongside the path between the riverbank and New Fen viewpoint and I had a surprise when I got the viewpoint itself: a bittern was perched up on top of the reeds at the back of the pool! It stayed there for a while before flying off.

    As I walked back towards the visitor centre, a kingfisher shot through East Wood and I stopped to take a look at the common meadow rue that is currently “showing well” just off the main track:

    Image credit: David White

    This plant is very important as it is the food plant of the larvae of the marsh carpet moth. This rare moth is virtually only found in East Anglia and we have a good population of them here. 

    The weather is looking quite good for the weekend so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon! 

    Posted by David White

  • 25 June 2015

    25 June recent sightings: No sleep 'til (I don't know when!)

    Good morning. It’s been a busy week so it’s now time for another update. I will begin by carrying on where I left off on Saturday. A goshawk was reported over New Fen viewpoint and a red kite was circling north of the river.

    There were also plenty of dragonflies and damselflies on the wing. This included several scarce chasers, hairy dragonflies and at least two variable damselflies

    We had a very successful dusk walk and there was plenty to see. There were two hobbys in front of New Fen viewpoint and a kingfisher was fishing nearby. A barn owl was also hunting along the river.

    There were at least two barn owls hunting in front of Joist Fen viewpoint and at least three cuckoos were flying around. A kingfisher was fishing in front of the viewpoint and a grasshopper warbler was reeling behind the viewpoint.

    We camped out and admittedly, I didn’t get much sleep! I probably only slept for an hour. A black tailed godwit flew over at some point in the early hours of the morning and just after I got up, a water vole swam across the visitor centre pond. 

    I lead a lovely walk at 4am and I got these pictures of the early morning light at Joist Fen viewpoint on the longest day of the year:

    Image credits: David White

    In terms of what we saw, it was a similar range to the evening before to be honest. However, a grasshopper warbler was reeling along the north side of New Fen North and some cranes were bugling in the distance west of Joist Fen viewpoint.

    Katherine, one of our Wardens, also camped out and set the moth trap up. I have attached her moth list to this blog post if you are interested to hear what she found.

    I popped in on Monday morning to photograph a steam engine passing the reserve. Although my photograph of it was not good enough to share, some of my insect pictures while I was waiting were:

    A female hairy dragonfly:

    A male azure damselfly:

    A probable female variable damselfly:

    Image credits: David White

    I will return over the next couple of days with some more recent sightings but until then, we hope to see you soon! 

    Posted by David White

  • 20 June 2015

    20 June recent sightings: Mid summer fun

    Good morning! We have reached the longest weekend of the year and we have plenty going on over the course of the next two days.

    It was a bright but breezy day on Wednesday and Suzanne headed down to New Fen viewpoint at lunchtime. She saw a hobby, a cuckoo a marsh harrier.

    The weather conditions were similar on Thursday and local photographer Matt Walton was here early. He took these great pictures:

    A barn owl:

    A flying bittern:

    A pair of marsh harriers:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

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

    I went for a walk before work and a speckled wood was sunning itself alongside East Wood. I also spotted a roe deer with a fawn, which was really nice to see. 

    There were plenty of blue tailed damselflies on the wing alongside Trial Wood and there were several common buzzards around. One was circling over Trial Wood and there were two over the riverbank.

    A cuckoo was calling well in West Wood and two marsh harriers were passing food to eachother over Mere Hide.

    There was also plenty to see from the visitor centre. A red kite drifted east overhead and a kingfisher was fishing in the visitor centre pond.

    A bittern was seen from Mere Hide and a turtle dove flew west along the river. A grass snake was also basking on the hard track near New Fen viewpoint. 

    It was a fairly good day yesterday and the little bittern was heard barking near New Fen viewpoint. 

    I have spent the morning in the visitor centre and a grey wagtail was feeding on the lawn in front of the visitor centre. There were also two great spotted woodpeckers feeding on the lawn and a jay was on the peanut feeder.

    Darren, one of our volunteers, took two friends down to Joist Fen viewpoint and they saw nine bittern flights. They also saw a cuckoo and a hobby perched up just west of the viewpoint.

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

    Posted by David White

  • 17 June 2015

    17 June recent sightings: A riot of colour

    Good morning. Although the weather wasn’t terribly inspiring last weekend, there was still plenty going on. A group from the Royal Photographic Society came on Saturday and one of their group members photographed these colourful dead nettle leaf beetles:

    Image credit: Ann Miles

    A stoat was dashing around at the edge of the visitor centre pond and the little bittern was barking intermittently in New Fen North triangle.

    At around 3pm, we were really rather surprised to see a pale morph Arctic skua flying east over the visitor centre. It then flew north over the washland. This is an extremely unseasonal record of this species and it is only the forth record of this (presumably lost!) seabird here.

    A black tern was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint later in the afternoon. I went a walk with our Wildlife Explorer’s club that evening. We saw two barn owls over the washland and a kingfisher from New Fen viewpoint.

    A roe deer was skulking around at the edge of the visitor centre pond on Sunday morning and a cuckoo was calling near the visitor centre.

    I came for a walk on Monday evening and photographed this banded demoiselle in Brandon Fen:

    Image credit: David White

    I also photographed an azure damselfly on the riverbank. I was also going to share that picture but local photographer Matt Walton took a much better picture of one here yesterday:

    Image credit: Matt Walton

    I encountered a family of mute swans slightly further along the riverbank that were very reluctant to move off of the path (they did eventually!)

    I heard the little bittern barking behind Joist Fen viewpoint and a grasshopper warbler was reeling near Mere Hide. 

    A bittern was seen over Brandon Fen yesterday and Matt Walton took these photographs:

    An otter swimming in the river:

    A blue tailed damselfly:

    Image credits: Matt Walton

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

    Emma, Suzanne and I did our last Common Bird Census’ of the year this morning. Suzanne and I saw a cuckoo in Brandon Fen and Emma saw a barn owl near Joist Fen viewpoint. She also saw a bittern fly from near Mere Hide into New Fen North.

    A coal tit has been calling outside the visitor centre for most of the morning so far and the little bittern was heard near Joist Fen viewpoint.

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

     

     

    Posted by David White

  • 13 June 2015

    13 June recent sightings: It (mostly) feels like summer

    Good morning! It has certainly warmed up recently! On Thursday morning, a bittern was seen at the edge of the visitor centre pond shortly before we opened up the visitor centre.

    The collared pratincole was seen at Joist Fen viewpoint and the little bittern was barking near Mere Hide.

    A roe deer was skulking at the edge of the visitor centre pond and there were plenty of dragonflies and damselflies on the wing. This included several scarce chasers and at least 25 red eyed damselflies at the far end of the reserve. 

    The collared pratincole was showing well over Joist Fen viewpoint during the afternoon and the little bittern was seen in flight over New Fen North triangle, just east of Joist Fen viewpoint. 

    There was some excitement just before we closed when somebody came in reporting a whiskered tern in front of New Fen viewpoint. I dashed down there but unfortunately didn't see it so it will only be a possible unfortunately! 

    I came down in the evening and although the collared pratincole didn't show itself, there were plenty of other things to see. A barn owl was hunting in front of Joist Fen viewpoint and there were at least four cuckoos in the same area. As we walked back through the reserve, we saw one muntjac deer skulking in East Wood and another bounding along the entrance track as we left. 

    I had a very productive walk around Brandon Fen in the sunshine yesterday morning. A barn owl was hunting over the grazing marsh and two marsh harriers were hunting over the washland. A female kestrel flew over and I spooked a roe deer which scarpered away from me. 

    There were also plenty of dragonflies and damselflies on the wing. I saw an emperor dragonfly, a male banded demoiselle and a common blue damselfly. That's not bad for 8am in the morning!

    The roe deer appeared at the edge of the visitor centre pool once again and the bittern was seen again in the same area. A kingfisher also whizzed across the visitor centre pool. 

    As the day went on, a female scarce chaser was photographed on the riverbank. I can’t resist sharing a picture of one that I photographed earlier on in the week. It isn't great, but at least you can tell what it is:

    Image credit: David White

    A male black tailed skimmer was also photographed. This is probably the first record of this species here this year which is a great sign.

    The little bittern was heard barking in New Fen North triangle but there were only a couple of reports of the collared pratincole from Joist Fen viewpoint in the morning and then nothing in the afternoon. 

    I went for a walk in the gloom this morning and saw a stoat with prey alongside Trial Wood. I also spotted some lovely ragged robin in flower in the Fen pools near the visitor centre. Here is some that I photographed earlier on in the week:

    Image credits: David White

    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 June 2015

    11 June recent sightings: Enjoying the sunshine

    Good morning. The weather was a lot better yesterday and the collared pratincole was out and about hunting insects in the heat of the day. At one point, it was directly overhead at Joist Fen viewpoint. Here are some pictures of it, courtesy of Jon Winnan:

    Image credits: Jon Winnan

    Thank you very much to Jon Winnan for sharing these fantastic pictures with us.

    It was last seen at the viewpoint at about 16.10 and it wasn’t seen at all yesterday evening. Hopefully, it is still around and it will reappear today!

    The little bittern seems to be a lot more mobile now and on Tuesday evening, it was heard both in New Fen North, the first area of reedbed and also in the reedbeds between the west end of Trial Wood and Mere Hide.

    There has been plenty of other things to see and bitterns have been seen in flight regularly, especially from Joist Fen viewpoint. Two barn owls were hunting in front of the viewpoint on Tuesday evening and with this sunset as their backdrop; they were a joy to watch:

    Image credits: David White

    The Joist Fen viewpoint was also a great place to be yesterday evening. There were cuckoos flying around all over the place and a lovely kingfisher was fishing right in front of the viewpoint. We saw several bittern flights and the local marsh harriers were out in force.

    As we walked back through the reserve, a grasshopper warbler was reeling near Mere Hide and a hobby dashed over East Wood.

    It’s a great time to be here at RSPB Lakenheath Fen so why not come and visit? We hope to see you soon!

     

    Posted by David White

  • 9 June 2015

    9 June recent sightings: Another exciting day

    Good morning. It turned out to be another exciting day here yesterday. Despite my reports of negative news on both of the reserve rarities mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, they both reappeared before the day was out!

    The little bittern was actually heard barking twice in its usual haunt just east of Joist Fen viewpoint yesterday morning. It was then not heard until right at the end of the day, but more about that later on......

    There were plenty of people out looking for both the little bittern and the collared pratincole during the day with no success. As a consolation, there were at least 12 hobbys hunting over Joist Fen viewpoint and two turtle doves flew over. There was also a small migration of painted lady butterflies through the reserve. 

    As the day went on, no positive news about either species was forthcoming but something that was e-mailed to me really helped to brightened up my day:

    Image credits: Richard Thewlis

    Richard sketched these on Sunday evening when he was lucky enough to see the collared pratincole. It actually features in both images with its slim profile, deep red underwing and forked tail. Thank you very much to Richard for sharing these great sketches with us. 

    The news that we had all been waiting for broke just before 4pm: the collared pratincole had been seen from the Public Footpath in Botany Bay, at the far end of the reserve! 

    At the end of my working day (give or take a few minutes anyway!) I headed down to Joist Fen viewpoint and on the way down to the viewpoint. There were several banded demoiselles on the wing and a late common sandpiper flew east along the river. 

    When I got down to the viewpoint, I had a distant view of a flying bittern and a pair of marsh harriers performed a breathtaking food pass right in front of me. A couple of bearded tits flew across the reeds in front of me and there seemed to be cuckoos everywhere. Over the course of the evening, I saw at least eight individual birds.

    A sparrowhawk flew directly over the viewpoint, being pursued by a kestrel. A couple of hobbys started to appear, and a small flock of starlings started flying around over the reedbed....

    ...And at 8.55pm, over the top of the aforementioned flock of starlings, flew the collared pratincole! It wasn't in view for long but its graceful flight style was unmistakable, even at relatively long range. Hooray! Sadly, it disappeared to view rather quicker than hoped for and it seemed to land somewhere in the reedbeds. 

    As we walked back through the reserve, we didn't hear the little bittern but somebody else did. It seems to have moved and was heard somewhere in the reeds just west of Trial Wood. It’s great to know that it’s still here and hopefully, it will become slightly more showy now that it has moved!

    We hope to see you soon! 

    Posted by David White

Your sightings

Grid reference: TL7286 (+2km)

Collared Pratincole ()
11 Jun 2015
Cetti's Warbler ()
25 Jun 2015
Cuckoo ()
21 Jun 2015
Grasshopper Warbler ()
21 Jun 2015
Kingfisher ()
20 Jun 2015
Water Rail ()
18 Jun 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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