Orange tip butterfly Anthocharis cardamines, backlit By Orange tip (Tom Marshall RSPB images)

Pictured is an Orange Tip Butterfly (Tom Marshall RSPB images) which, given how quickly the natural world changes in Spring, will soon be commonplace at the reserve,

I thought this month it would do well to write a general update on the reserve- with wildlife news and also what the human beings have been up to!

We now have our two crane pairs firmly back on the reserve and at the time of writing, we believe ‘pair B2’ how have eggs to look after, as we are only seeing one adult at a time arriving into or leaving their territory; indicating the other bird has it’s wings full! We are hopeful this year of seeing a third pair settle on the reserve and become permanent summer visitors to us.

Marsh harriers are beginning to ‘sky-dance’- the males tumble through the skies in a very steep swoop, before changing direction and soaring upwards afterwards. This show of agility and strength is designed to impress any watching females, who often sit in nearby willows.

We have also heard the first ‘grunts’ of a bittern, near Joist Fen Viewpoint, on 23 February and these grunts are precursors to the more well-known ‘booms’ of males that echo across reedbeds and mark out their territories. As well as the birds, smaller wildlife is just as important and March has seen plenty of peacock and brimstone butterflies, buff-tailed bumblebees and hoverflies emerging from hibernation to visit early flowers. Any day now we should hear the first chiffchaffs, blackcaps, see the first sand martins feeding over the Washland and we should find the variety of butterflies increase too.

While the wildlife is beginning to emerge from it’s winter sleep, the staff and volunteers are winding up certain jobs out on the reserve so as not to disturb the wildlife during the breeding season. All the cutting of reeds and clearing of scrub has finished; now and through the warmer months jobs will include painting and varnishing of furniture and buildings, some work on the viewpoint roofs and survey work to monitor breeding wildlife.

We had hoped that our burglary in our workshop on 23 December was the last bad luck we’d suffer for a while but on 3 March we had a small fire in the workshop which created a huge amount of smoke and melted a few items nearby. It also destroyed the electrical control panel for our biodigester, meaning our toilets are out of action for at least a couple of weeks. So for anyone visiting us soon- we are operating port-a-loos but hopefully by April the normal facilities will be back in use. We can still serve refreshments as the power supply to the Visitor Centre has been restored.

I hope this update has been useful and enjoyable and I hope you will be able to visit us in the coming weeks to enjoy Spring here in all its glory.

With best wishes,

Heidi Jones (Visitor Experience Officer, RSPB Lakenheath Fen)

Events at RSPB Lakenheath Fen in March and April 2022

Places for all events need to be booked online- please visit events.rspb.org.uk/lakenheathfen to read more and book tickets.
Friday’s Foray
Adults: £7 non-RSPB members, £5 for RSPB members
Children (10+ years): £3 for non-RSPB members, £2 for RSPB members.
Monthly guided walk – 11am-1pm, usually the first friday in each month, so:
8 April, 6 May, 3 June.
Monthly guided walk with a member of the reserve team, taking in current highlights.

Treasures of the Moth Trap
Adults: £3 non-RSPB members, £2 for RSPB members
Children (under 16’s) go free!
10am to 11am:
24 March, 30 April
Monthly moth-trap opening at the Visitor Centre.

Eggs and bunnies at RSPB Lakenheath Fen
An Easter-themed family trail around the accessible Brandon Fen loop, for all ages and abilities.
Friday 8 April to Sunday 24 April
Price: £1.50 per child. Payable at the Visitor Centre, open 9am to 5pm daily.

The Sound of Spring- Dawn Chorus at Lakenheath
A dawn chorus walk on International Dawn Chorus Day -we will look for cuckoos and warblers!
Sunday 1 May (6am-9am)
Price: Adults £20 (RSPB members), £16 (non-RSPB members), Under 18’s £10 (RSPB members), £8 (non-RSPB members).

The Butterflies and Dragonflies of Lakenheath Fen
A guided walk during peak season for butterflies and dragonflies at Lakenheath Fen.
Saturday 11 June (11am-1pm)
Price: Adults £10 (RSPB members), £12 (non-RSPB members).