Twenty-seven of us arrived at this beautiful reserve, where we were joined by Terry who had driven from his Suffolk home. Wicken Fen has been owned by the National Trust since 1899 and as our friendly greeter Martin explained, they have a 100 year project to expand the reserve even further.
Swallows flew all around us on this warm, sunny Sunday in the Fens, as we prepared to see and hear the delights that it has to offer. Some of our members decided to make their own way around and even booked the river boat trip. From the visitor centre, the boardwalk gave us house sparrow, chaffinch, great tit, chiffchaff and a distant cuckoo. Orange tip, brimstone and large white butterflies drifted by on the warm breeze as we passed by the first water pump. In the reeds, sedge and reed warblers sang their melodious tunes, followed by the scratchy sounds of a whitethroat. Further along near the Boardwalk hide, a willow warbler was spotted perched high in a tree. It duly sang for us, followed by another, then another – perhaps marking their territories or vying for female attention! A pair of hobbies and a marsh harrier displayed way above us, followed a short walk away, by a kestrel. A temporary ‘look out’ had been erected by the river, where the hobby was spotted again. Wren, blackcap and cuckoo songs echoed around us as we decided to have elevenses by the river. Heading back towards the visitor centre, cettis warbler, reed bunting , wood pigeon, collared dove, moorhen and pheasant added to our list. A water rail was heard, but not seen.
After a short comfort break, we headed alongside the Wicken Lode where sedge warblers and wrens sang. The view over the Mere gave us greylag, shoveler, shelduck, gadwall, lapwing, Canada geese, mallard, redshank, tufted duck and coot. To our right, a cuckoo was again heard in the distance. Out came the telescopes and it was found perched high in the treetops. Curiously enough, another bird was seen not far from the cuckoo. The heat haze was quite intense at this time and the creature was finally identified as a marsh harrier. With that bagged, we decided to rest for a while and have lunch.
Onwards along the track, at least ten little egrets were spotted and in Charlie’s hide, some were flying past us whilst a little grebe dived amongst the reeds for its lunch. We were met by Paul and Sam who had spotted a garganey and water vole from the hide, however, the Anas querquedula had just flown further along Baker’s fen. At the Fen hide, Roe deer were grazing in the distance and Konik ponies were crossing the bridge to pastures new. Unfortunately, the garganey eluded us, but a sedge warbler and male reed bunting kept us entertained with their constant flitting about the reeds.
The walk back to the centre gave us two more cuckoos, jackdaws, common crows, mute swans, grey herons, willow warblers, blackcaps, common buzzard, pochard, dunnock and spectacular views of a hobby catching its prey in flight. Other group members had spotted swift, garden warbler and common tern. Holly blue, brimstone and peacock butterflies were added to the list before we bade farewell to this lovely reserve.
A total of sixty species were noted and many thanks to everyone that attended – a great day out.
Why not join us on our next coach trip to Minsmere in October – more details coming soon.
Steve and Hazel.
Thanks to Hazel for organising the trip and to Steve for the report. Thanks to Sally, Steve and Terry for the photographs.