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 have now completed their 2017 breeding season and are heading to warmer countries to avoid the winter. Birds arriving include wigeon, teal and shoveler which migrate to the UK from Eastern Europe in order to take advantage of our relatively mild winters in comparison to conditions on their breeding grounds.

Wigeon - Photo credit: Andy Hay (

Arguably, it is the species which are just passing through that cause the most excitement. So far this autumn we have been visited by hundreds of sand and house martin busily feeding above the lakes, a wheatear, a whinchat and some spotted flycatchers. However, the most exciting bird to drop in was a wryneck. Wrynecks are an extremely rare breeder in the UK, but a number of them grace our shores with their presence during spring and autumn. They are extremely well camouflaged and have the ability to turn their heads almost 180 degrees, using their neck in a snake like motion and hissing to warn predators away from the nest. If you get the chance to see one then I heavily recommend doing so, they really are a very interesting bird.

Wryneck - Image credit: Mike Langham (

Although the temperatures are starting to drop and the weather is on a downward curve there is still a hint of summer left in the air, which is best portrayed by the dozens of migrant hawker and common darter dragonflies which still fill the air. These beautiful beasts add a dash of colour to the reserve and are a real delight to see.

Common darter - Photo credit: Luke Wake

So why not lace up your boots, grab your rain coat (weather dependant) and head on down to Fen Drayton Lakes to see what you can spot.