This week on the reserve we have had a large influx of fieldfare- yesterday (31 October) a flock of around 300 flew overhead whilst I fed the birds, and there are plenty of redwing on site too. A lot of these birds are passing through but in the coming weeks they should settle on the reserve more and become easier to see in berry bushes. Siskin numbers are building too, and at the moment they tend to be mixed in with goldfinches, chattering away in willow trees like those near the photography station. A great spotted woodpecker is beginning to frequent the peanut feeder here and yesterday (31 October) two flew over the Visitor Centre together.

 Photo credit: A juvenile great spotted woodpecker by Les Bunyan

One bird that has become more apparent since the clocks went back last weekend has been the tawny owl. We have two birds, or possibly three, in the trees to the south of the entrance track. Lately they have been quite vocal from about 17:00 onwards and it could be an established pair and an intruder into their territory, which would explain the frantic constant calling at times. Another good bird to look for if you make an evening visit to the reserve is the whooper swans, whose numbers continue to build in a roost on the Washland. The birds tend to leave gradually during the morning and come back in from about 16:30. With them are mute swans and good numbers of shoveler, teal, gadwall, wigeon, lapwing and snipe. 243 is our record for so far, seen on 27 October at about 17:00.

 Photo credit: A male Gadwall on the Washland

Back at the Visitor Centre, kingfisher have been regular and this morning (1 November) there were too fishing on the pond, and yesterday (31 October) a water rail could be heard calling from within vegetation on the left hand side. Other birds on and around the feeders include a very cunning sparrowhawk, beautiful female reed bunting, marsh tits and long-tailed tits now that we have been supplying them with fat balls. Leftover suet coconut half-shells from the Race for Wildlife that we didn’t use have been popular too! On 29 October a member of staff saw the first brambling of the winter, again in front of the Visitor Centre in the bushes- the trays underneath the seed feeders and the feeders themselves could well attract them here this coming winter. Our male house sparrow made a return visit on the same day too.

In terms of man-made activity on the reserve, this week has been a busy one- the solar ports are almost complete and this is how they looked yesterday afternoon. They should provide more than enough electricity for us at the Visitor Centre and so should help us earn a little money too. By building them in the car park it has meant very little disturbance to habitat or wildlife at Lakenheath. By having them 'up in the air' on legs, we won't lose any car parking space as vehicles can still park underneath.

 Photo credit: Solar ports on 31 October (almost finished) by Heidi Jones

Looking ahead, it looks like a mild, cloudy, sometimes windy week ahead. The winds will be coming generally from a SW direction, which is the opposite of the direction favoured by migrant birds in the autumn (NE) so we may see a temporary pause in the flow of migrant birds. Highlights at the reserve in the coming week should be the whooper swans and winter thrushes, and a walk further into the reserve should reward the patient visitor with bearded tits, kingfisher and perhaps even bittern. As you leave the car park to walk to the Visitor Centre, keep an eye out for fly agarics too- these are growing opposite our wood carving. 

If you’re planning a visit in the coming days, do ask about our latest sightings in the Visitor Centre before your walk and we can give you the most up to date information! One bird that may well enjoy the coming windy weather will be marsh harrier- they are often tempted into the air by turbulence and seem to enjoy just playing in it. Keep a look out for these next time you're here.

By Heidi Jones

Visitor Experience Officer

Lakenheath Fen