• Meet the Assistant Warden

    Our wardens are probably a familiar sight to many regular visitors to the reserve - even if you don't know their names! I decided it would be a good idea (much to the dismay of the wardens!) for us to find out a bit more about them and their wardening ways! 

    Last month we met Luke, Assistant Warden at Fen Drayton Lakes. This month it's the turn of Richard - Assistant Warden at Ouse Fen. 

    Why did you want to…

    • 26 Oct 2016
  • BBC at Ouse Fen

    Yesterday was an exciting day at Ouse Fen - BBC Look East spent the morning at Ouse Fen, filming a feature for tonight's news.

    Staff and volunteers were filmed planting reeds and interviewed about why they volunteer, and about the Hanson-RSPB partnership. One volunteer could even remember when the site was just fields - what a incredible transformation to see!

    Watch it tonight on BBC Look East! 

    Project manager…

    • 20 Oct 2016
  • Water vole surveys

    Yesterday I was lucky enough to spend a day out at Ouse Fen with the wardens, helping them with their annual water vole survey.

    Despite being widespread in the UK, water voles have been identified as one of Britain’s fastest declining mammals. There are an estimated 220,000 water voles in the UK – this may sound like a lot but, prior to the 1960’s, there were thought to be around eight million!


    • 22 Sep 2016
  • Marsh harrier success at Ouse Fen

    It has been a successful year for marsh harriers at Ouse Fen. Six nests were recorded and, so far, eight fledglings have been spotted!

    There are now nearly 400 breeding pairs in the UK, mainly in eastern and south-east England but the story hasn’t always been so positive.

    Marsh harriers suffered massive declines during the 18th and 19th century, largely due to drainage of wetlands and persecution.

    The marsh harriers…

    • 20 Jul 2016
  • Ouse Fen just got bigger!

    A bold vision is coming to life at Ouse Fen - we are busy turning the largest sand/gravel quarry in southern England into the country’s largest reed bed! Last month, 96ha of restored land was transferred from Hanson Aggregates to the RSPB at Ouse Fen. This means that the nature reserve now covers an area of 218ha!

    One day, this reed bed should be crammed with bitterns, marsh harriers and other amazing wildlife…

    • 21 Jun 2016
  • A mysterious booming noise...

    If you live in the village of Over, or the surrounding area, you might have heard some mysterious booming noises over the past couple of months. It may have sounded a bit like someone blowing over the top of a bottle. You have probably been listening to a booming bittern!

    Bitterns are small, brown herons found in large reedbeds. They are very secretive and difficult to spot as they stalk silently through reeds looking…

    • 25 May 2016
  • Guided Walk Wednesday 1st July 6.30pm

    I will be taking visitors on a 2 hour walk to look at the new habitat creation works at the north end of the reserve. The excavations have been carrying on apace this year and we can see how the land and wetlands are formed before the water floods the new lagoons and reedbeds. We will also look at a 5 year old reedbed which has breeding marsh harriers, bearded tits and a booming bittern. Harriers have young at the moment…

    • 26 Jun 2015
  • Warblers warbling at Needingworth

    With the recent warm weather there has been a rush of incoming summer  migrants. Along with the swallows, sand martins and house martins swooping over the lakes we have had an influx of warblers, singing from the scrub land and willows around the lakes. Willow warblers and chiffchaffs adorn the willows while most other species prefer the cover of hawthorn and bramble scrub. The most numerous and vocal songsters are the…

    • 23 Apr 2015
  • King of Ducks - The Smew - twenty one at Needingworth Lakes

    Wintering ducks reach their peak numbers in February and last week we had an influx of smews, arguably the most beautiful as well as one of the most sought after wildfowl in Britain.

    Here is a picture of a female:

    Image credit: Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)

    Female plumaged birds outnumber the males and are called ‘redheads’ due to their reddish brown cap and forehead, they have a white cheek. The males are stunning…

    • 13 Feb 2015
  • Recent sightings: The breeding season that was. Blog by Barry O'Dowd, Warden, RSPB Ouse Fen

    With the breeding season coming to an end, it is time to review the bird life successes and failures on the reserve this year. Well, bitterns, our top target species, did very well with six booming males. This was double last year’s figure and in July, it seemed that young were on the wing across the reserve. This exceeds all expectations and bodes well for expansion in future years, as gravel extraction continues and…

    • 6 Sep 2014
  • Recent sightings: Spring has sprung!

    Here is the latest recent sightings blog post from April RSPB Ouse Fen.

    March heralded the start of a delightful extended period of warm dry weather which brought out the butterflies and birdsong. Brimstones brought some colour to the rides at Needingworth, with peacocks and small tortoishells across the reserve. Brown hares boxed while roe and muntjac deer grazed.

    The reedbeds were alive with ‘pinging’ …

    • 10 May 2014
  • Best in Britain?

    Great news - we've been nominated as ‘Britain’s Favourite Nature Reserve’ in the BBC’s Countryfile Magazine Awards 2013.

    The nominated reserves were selected by nature writer Mark Cocker and Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison. Ouse Fen is described as ‘A vast wetland habitat project, but it already has so many birds that it gives you hope for the future’.

    True to the nomination…

    • 30 Sep 2013
  • Spring has finally arrived

    Ouse Fen reserve is now slowly emerging from the cold dark winter, with the first fresh blades of grass shooting and plucky migrant birds testing the air. We have had a steady flow of migrants through including sand martins house martins and swallows  most noticeable at Berry Fen. Also there were up to 10 yellow wagtails  and 30 white wagtails, 4 wheatears  , as well as a whinchat on the 15th April. Much scarcer, there were…

    • 1 May 2013
  • Nothing Added But Tea and Biscuits – A Thank You to All Our Volunteers

    The retired and the office bound make up the bulk of volunteers at Ouse Fen but there’s room for one and all. They’re all united by a common goal to help us grow and improve the reserve, a job that staff alone could never complete.

    The diversity of the group brings with it many advantages. Having a mix of retired and working professional including engineers, chemists, police officers and scientists, there…

    • 26 Nov 2012
  • Winter Arrivals

    It's the 22nd of October and most of our expected winter guests have already made an appearance down at the reed beds. Ring tail hen harriers (11/10), short eared owl (14/10) and merlin (18/10) have all shown up sporadically down the fen in the past number of weeks. In addition to these iconic winter guests we have seen other sometimes overlooked guests such as brambling, siskin and redpoll. It’s a fantastic time…

    • 22 Oct 2012
  • Open For Business

    After a run in of nearly a decade we’re delighted to say that the reserve is now formally open to the public. With over 200ha of wetlands in place the project is already bursting with wildlife – so well worth waiting for!

    The promoted access for visitors is via Needingworth where two waymarked trails begin. One trail leads to the reedbeds (a 10km round trip), the other to Barleycroft Lake (8km) - from where…

    • 15 Sep 2012