Since the last update we have had a series of changeable weather systems bringing warm windy conditions and more recently cold frosty spells. This week in particular the broad in front of reception was completely frozen over Monday to Wednesday, while just a mile away conditions were far more mild. We also flooded over the last weekend, up to a foot of water was rushing over the paths in places, luckily the water seemed to be mainly fresh this time.

The avian highlights of the past few weeks have included the reserves second rough-legged buzzard from Reception Hide on 2 December, an arctic redpoll was seen on 9 December, but failed to be relocated since and a white cheeked pintail x mallard has been in front of the Reception Hide, this is of lesser excitement but still interesting to observe.

Other more routine species have included at least six water pipits feeding in the fen, we still have an impressive roost of around 50 marsh harriers most evenings as well as one or two ringtail hen harriers. At least one kingfisher has remained with us so far this winter and has mostly been seen on the river, a large number of kingfishers migrate to the coast in winter, which explains why we see less of them throughout winter here at the fen. A small number of bearded tits are still present in the reedbed, although the flock is far ranging so you need a bit of luck to connect with them. Unfortunately the starling murmurations have completely fizzled out here at Strumpshaw now, they did go over the river to our Surlingham Church Marsh reserve, however I have not heard reports of them over there for at least a week now.

Buckenham continues to be a hotspot of activity with 800 wigeon, 15 taiga bean geese, 72 white-fronted geese and up to 1200 pink-footed geese as well as 1000+ lapwing. Numbers of raptors are also quite impressive on the marshes with three red kite, two peregrines, multiple buzzards, marsh harriers and the occasional hen harrier to add to the lists.

-The reserve is currently fully open, however the riverbank towards Tower Hide is a bit muddy in places thanks to the recent flooding. Wellingtons are always recommended at this time of the year…just in case! However the woodland circuit is in good condition and the paths to the river, Fen Hide and the pumphouse are all hard surfaces. We have decorated the family trail with a Christmas theme so bring the little ones to follow the Santa sticks and spot a reindeer or two.

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