Apologies for lack of recent updates.

The spring season has certainly been a bit up and down as far as the weather goes so far, however we are expecting a sunny week ahead of us now.

We are up to a full house as far as migrants are concerned at the fen, with plenty of warblers including reed, sedge, grasshopper, whitethroat, blackcap, garden, chiffchaff and willow warblers. Of note, there have been up to eight grasshopper warblers around the fen and at least four garden warblers along the riverbank, which is a good increase on last year’s final tally.

At least three cuckoos have been seen and heard in recent days, although they are ranging from Buckenham to Surlingham, so are not always easy to see, luckily their song is far carrying. Two bitterns can still be heard booming from the reedbed, at least one female has also been seen so we are hoping for good news later this month. The kingfishers appear to be busy feeding young, so can be seen briefly as they flash past various locations, hopefully they will appear soon with youngsters.

In the sky, swallows, swifts, house and sand martins can all be found taking a pit stop from their migration and refuelling on the emerging insects. While the hirundine’s move through, they are being tailed by hobbys, today I counted at least seven over the fen. Also up in the air are the marsh harriers, we appear to have slightly fewer nesting here this year for some reason, while buzzards have increased and can be encountered as an everyday occurrence. The red kites have also returned, although have not been seen as regularly as last year yet, but its good to have them in the area too.

Some of the scarcer spring species have been seen recently; a ring ouzel has been seen in the paddock by the pumphouse track today, up to three ospreys stopped over at Rockland Broad in early May, an arctic tern passed through during a dawn chorus walk as well as two spotted redshanks and a wood sandpiper from Tower Hide, two cranes have also been seen.

Buckenham has seen its breeding waders return with good numbers of lapwing and redshank present, we also have a few drumming snipe, which are always fascinating to watch as their tail feathers produce their ‘song’. Also at Buckenham a number of passage waders have been noted; wood, green and common sandpipers, black and bar tailed godwits, little ringed plovers, a grey plover on Tuesday as well as small numbers of dunlin and ruff.

The insects have been emerging in recent weeks, albeit slowly due to the cool conditions. This next week looks like we should see a decent amount of emergence and given that it is mid-May, we may even see our first swallowtail butterflies by next weekend. Dragonflies that have been recorded at the fen so far include large-red, variable, blue-tail and azure damselflies, while hairy dragonflies and banded demoiselles have also been spotted. Again, I would expect Norfolk hawkers to emerge over the coming few weeks as well as scarce chasers.

 This is a great time of the year to get out and see the delights of spring, you never quite know what you might find. The trails are generally in good condition across the reserve, the meadow trail remains closed at present, but is highly likely to open mid-week as the sun should bring out the insects which make the meadow trail a lot more enjoyable.


Ben Lewis