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 flood water as it is retained above normal ground level by the banks. We’re therefore quite used to sudden water level rises as water flows onto the reserve when the river rises, but floods of this scale are few and far between. 

At the height of this recent flood Holywell Ferry Road was flooded on both sides of the guided busway deep enough for a heron to be observed fishing on the road. Water was flowing over the footpaths and bridleways and all the lakes were connected to form a single system. It was all very impressive but has made work somewhat difficult as most areas where we would usually be focusing at this time of year are inaccessible.

It isn’t all bad though. The nesting islands on Moore Lake have been submerged for around a month now and will likely still be under water for a little while. This will remove the top layer of soil and should help suppress the vegetation growth, making them better for when the gulls and terns start to nest in the spring. We may even get more waders moving in, such as avocet.

The flood waters will also top up all our shallow pools (scrapes) around the site and leave a lot of mud around the edges of the lakes. Both of these features will help lapwing and other breeding waders.