• Monthly sightings summary - May 2022

    After such a good April it was going to be hard to keep up the pace of sightings during May. However there were still some unusual sightings around the reserve headlined by a group of 7 Glossy Ibis which called in on 26th. Other sightings of note:

    • Bar-tailed Godwit - on on Ferry on 1st
    • Goldeneye - late male on Moore on 1st
    • Little Ringed Plover - two on Moore on 1st
    • Yellow Wagtail - 3 along entrance road on 2nd
    • Corn Bunting…
    • 31 May 2022
  • Monthly sightings summary - April 2022

    Simply put, April was an excellent month at Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB. There were lots of new birds for the year with the expected arrival of summer-migrants that featured everything from terns to warblers, to turtle doves and waders. The 20th was a red-letter day with the reserve's first record of Savi's Warbler. It only stayed for a day and was present in a sensitive part of the reserve so news couldn't be released. Also…

    • 17 May 2022
  • Monthly sightings summary - Mar 2022

    March is a funny month in the birding calendar. So much hope and anticipation at spring migration beginning, but often in reality we have to wait for April till the migrant floodgates open. Saying that, there was the expected arrival of Chiffchaffs which at one point late in the month were audible almost wherever you were on the reserve. Other signs of spring during a prolonged sunny spell included Brimstone butterflies…

    • 6 Apr 2022
  • Monthly sightings summary - Feb 2022

    February 2022 was a month dominated by storms. The high winds and rainfall meant getting out birding for a lot of the visitors was a bit tricky and there were a number of trees down around the reserve for the warden team to clear. Despite the less-than-ideal conditions a good number of uncommon species were found and some early spring migrants spotted.

    • The first Oystercatcher of the 'spring' was back on Moore Lake on…
    • 1 Mar 2022
  • Monthly sightings summary - Jan 2022

    In the first of a new series of monthly blogs we are going to run in 2022, here is a short summary of the bird highlights at Fen Drayton Lakes during January.

    The first month of a new year is always an exciting time for birdwatchers as they start a new year list and get out for some fresh air after the Christmas festivities. The standout species was the continuing flock of Smew which peaked at 10 birds on 10th. Their…

    • 8 Feb 2022
  • 2022 Bird, Butterfly and Damsel/Dragonfly List

    Here is our reserve bird list for the year (2022). Resident species that may be seen year-round are marked with “(r)”. 

    1. Canada goose (r)
    2. Barnacle goose (28/04; presumed feral bird)
    3. greylag goose (r)
    4. pink-footed goose
    5. white-fronted goose (01/01)
    6. mute swan (r)
    7. Egyptian goose (r)
    8. shelduck (26/02)
    9. garganey (16/03)
    10. shoveler (r)
    11. gadwall (r)
    12. wigeon (present winter)
    13. mallard (r)
    14. pintail (04/01; present winter)
    15. teal…
    • 20 Jan 2022
  • The starlings are murmurating!

    The winter build-up of starlings at dusk has occurred and visitors to the reserve are being treated to a great display. One visitor recently sent us this link to a great video of the murmuration:



    • 11 Jan 2022
  • A bird summary of 2021

    The closing of the year presents a good time to summarise the wildlife goings-on that have taken place over the past 12 months. Overall, it has been an exciting year; however varied water levels posed a challenge for some species to overcome.

    Early winter flooding meant the reserve effectively became one giant lake. The ducks were having a great time with large numbers of wigeon, tufted duck, pintail, shoveler and goldeneye…

    • 7 Dec 2021
  • Dragons and Damsels at RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes

    By Henry Cook – Assistant Warden – RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes

    With the rising mercury, long summer days encourage an ancient group of insects, as old as the dinosaurs, to take to the air. Dragonflies and damselflies, collectively known as odonata, emerge out of the water following several years as a nymph, climb up stems and emerge as an adult. At this time, smaller insects better watch out as odonata are experts…

    • 20 Aug 2021
  • 2021 Bird List (also including butterflies and dragon/damselflies)

    Here is our reserve bird list for the year (2021). We will try to routinely update the list and hopefully match last year's count of 169 species. Dates are when first seen/reported (unless 01/01-04/01 when initial list put up). 

    1. Canada goose
    2. barnacle goose (17/01, fly-over)
    3. greylag goose
    4. pink-footed goose (fly-over)
    5. white-fronted goose
    6. mute swan
    7. whooper swan (19/10)
    8. Egyptian goose
    9. shelduck 
    10. garganey
    11. shoveler
    12. gadw…
    • 5 Jan 2021
  • 2020 Bird List

    Here is our reserve bird list for the year (2020). We will try to routinely update the list and hopefully match last year's count of 133 species. Dates are when first seen/reported (unless 01/01-10/01 when initial list put up). 

    Edit 04/01/21: And that's a wrap with 169 species seen. Not too bad! A big thank you to all the visitors who were out at all times and in all conditions walking around the reserve and reporting…

    • 23 Mar 2020
  • A year of two halves

    Our year on the reserve is split into two halves: the autumn-winter habitat management season and the spring-summer breeding season.

    From September through to the end of February we are busy going around the reserve carrying out work to maintain or enhance areas for our key breeding species. Most of this work is guided by the reserve species targets in our management plan. These targets detail the species, avian or otherwise…

    • 5 Mar 2020
  • Water, water everywhere

    As I write, Fen Drayton Lakes is recovering from our largest flood for a number of years and is still under a significant amount of water.

    Due to being on the flood plain of the River Great Ouse, back when the reserve was still an active gravel quarry, banks were built around the pits to keep the river out. These were never removed when the quarrying ended which has inadvertently led to the lakes becoming reservoirs for…

    • 27 Jan 2020
  • A Nightingale Sang in Fen Drayton Lakes

    Nightingale are one of those species that most people have heard of, but few have seen. These renowned songsters are closely related to the robin, but are a little larger and the very definition of a ‘little brown bird’ having plain brown upperparts, paler underparts and a more reddish-brown tail. Despite their plain looks, nightingale are deserving of their reputation as wonderful singers with studies identifying up…

    • 10 Dec 2019
  • Reedbed Management

    Long ago, rivers were free to meander around, flood and change their course. Marshes and reedbeds would form around them and in their flood plains, only to dry out and turn into grassland or woodland as the river’s course moved. This wasn’t a problem, as new reedbed and marsh would form on the new route allowing the cycle to continue. Nowadays, rivers are locked into the artificial channels and embankments we have made…

    • 5 Nov 2019
  • A look back at the 2019 breeding season

    With the 2019 breeding season at an end, it’s time to look back at a season of successes and notable absences.

    To our great joy our pre-dawn bittern surveys back in April quickly picked up two booming males; one on Holywell and one on Elney. These two boomers kept going throughout April and into May, although we were unable to conclusively confirm if either had attracted a female to successfully breed. Whilst a…

    • 1 Oct 2019
  • Whats lurking beneath the surface at Fen Drayton Lakes: Guest blog post by Simon Freedman, Assistant Warden

    A random encounter on a trip to Skokholm Island in Pembrokeshire back in June led me to being introduced to Kev Rowley, a freshwater invertebrate enthusiast, predominantly beetles and bugs, who I was told “would be interested in doing some surveys at your reserve”. I didn’t think anything would come of this, but a few weeks ago we finished our base survey of the reserve having carried out dips at 25 sites around our lakes…

    • 11 Dec 2018
  • An hour at the Welcome Shelter 15/11/18

    There has been a small starling murmuration on the reserve recently. The birds made an impressive spectacle over the reserve car park last weekend. Assistant Warden Simon therefore spent a couple of hours at the Welcome Shelter yesterday afternoon to try to see them. Unfortunately, he only saw around 100 which is a shame. 

    However, he did see 34 different bird species in an hour between 3pm & 4pm. Here is his list:…

    • 16 Nov 2018
  • Important information: Car park and facilities closed Monday 2 April

    Unfortunately, the car park and facilities are closed today due to the recent rainfall and high water levels. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused. Hopefully, the water levels will drop soon!
    • 2 Apr 2018
  • Easter Willow weaving workshop Sunday 25 March, 10am-4pm

    Good afternoon. Are you looking for an unusual gift for a loved one this Easter? If you are, then read on: On Sunday 25 March, 10am-4pm, we have an Easter willow weaving workshop. Reserve volunteer Alan will be leading the workshop and he will show you how to weave your own Easter basket out of willow harvested at RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes. No previous experience is required, just the enthusiasm to learn! The event…
    • 20 Mar 2018
  • High water everywhere

    Over the Christmas and New Year period we experienced a moderate flood on the reserve. The reserve acts as a flood reservoir, protecting local villages from the sheer volume of water which enters the great Ouse. The flooding caused some sections of the reserve to be closed, with access to the hide requiring chest waders.

    Approach to the hide

    Moore Lake with islands completely submerged

    Although the flooding was…

    • 15 Jan 2018
  • A new view

    We have been beavering away on the reserve recently and have opened up a new viewpoint. The new viewpoint can be found on the North West of Elney Lake and adds an extra element of interest to one of our most wooded trails.

    We felled the lake side willows and then our team of hard working and enthusiastic volunteers created a dead hedge to really finish it off.

    So why not wrap up warm and take a stroll down to Fen…

    • 7 Dec 2017
  • Improvements for people and wildlife

    Habitat management

    We have recently been removing trees from the shores of the grassland on Ferry lagoon. This work is part of the ongoing improvements being made for breeding waders and wintering wildfowl. Waders, such as lapwing and redshank require open areas of wet grassland in which to nest and raise their chicks, whilst wildfowl such as wigeon utilise these same areas in winter. The felling of the large willows…

    • 31 Oct 2017
  • Wigeon are coming

    Now that summer is over the lakes are starting to take on a different feel. Leaves are starting to turn a beautiful blend of colours, hedgerows are bursting with berries and it is getting wetter underfoot.

    The birds which use the reserve are also changing, with some species leaving, some passing through and others arriving for the winter. Birds leaving include whitethroats, willow warblers and garden warblers, which…

    • 14 Sep 2017
  • Willow emeralds find a home at RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes

    When I first started working at Fen Drayton Lakes in November 2015 I commented that willow emerald damselfly must occur on the site, as the habitat looks perfect. Now, just under two years later, I can confirm that the species is present on site. Today I searched for, and found, a single willow emerald damselfly on Holywell Pond. This species is a fairly recent colonist of the UK and is currently spreading westwards from…

    • 30 Aug 2017