Monday, 5 April 2010

Lakenheath Magic

Mute Swan, Lakenheath Fen

I ended this Easter Weekend down in the Brecks at one of my favourite places Lakenheath Fen RSPB nature reserve.

Lakenheath is special, not just because it is an amazing place to experience some of the UK's most special wildlife including our only nesting Golden Orioles and the first Cranes to nest in the Fens in four centuries. It is also special because it is a landscape restored. Hundreds of years ago the Fens here would have supported a wonderful array of wildlife and a local community, then gradually over time they were drained for agriculture, until today only a small remnant remains.

So when a dozen or so years ago the RSPB purchased some rather large carrot fields with the expressed intention of turning them into a world class wetland, it was a inspiring statement of hope. Today the Fen is a wonderful landscape to walk in. Later this month the sound-scape will pick up pace as hundreds of pairs of Sedge and Reed Warblers take up their summer home in this new wetland and the wonderful fluting song of the Golden Oriole will echo around the Poplar plantations.

Today though it was cold and grey and windy. But still you could tell what a special place this is, Marsh Harriers quartered the new reedbeds, a bird of prey which is still rarer in the UK than the Golden Eagle.

But best of all the Craniac in me was given a fix as, three times I saw a single Common Crane get up from in amongst the tawny reeds and fly around, it even did a circuit over the river, in the process placing itself on my Norfolk year list. This bird has some smudgy brown feathers on its back, so an immature bird, so probably the young bird that fledged last summer the first to do so in the Fens in 400 years. Never mind the weather pleased to make your acquaintance.

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