Trip reports

Coach Trip to Weeting Heath NWT and Lakenheath Fen RSPB Reserves.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Coach Trip to Weeting Heath NWT and Lakenheath Fen RSPB Reserves

14 May 2017

This combination of venues generally provides a good selection of birds including some that we rarely or never see elsewhere on our coach trips and at a dry and sunny Weeting Heath we were quickly guided by the warden to a spot where we could stand safely and view a distant but unmistakable stone curlew that was across the road, active on the hillside.

For some reason that I never got to grips with the grass in the field where they usually nest, close to the hides, was too long so they had nested elsewhere. Other birds seen here included spotted flycatcher, yellowhammer, marsh tit, goldfinch, mistle thrush, lapwing, buzzard and chaffinch, some of which, very frustratingly, I didn't manage to connect with.

Only ten minutes from Weeting is the RSPB reserve at Lakenheath, beside the River Little Ouse, and as Ralph Todd reminded us on the day the area was arable land, used to grow carrots before the RSPB took it over and created a patchwork of wetland habitats. On arrival a good many of our group consumed packed lunches before heading out to look for the glossy ibis that had been resident for a while on the Washlands, a large area of shallow water across the river. Viewed from the high river bank the ibis was quite obvious, looking rather like a very large black curlew, but not out of place among the scattered gadwall, mallard and coots.

Walking up river we were accompanied by common terns on one side and a mix of singing reed and sedge warblers on the other. Greylag geese were encountered at various spots, with and without young, and as we looked at the last group a cuckoo started to call in the nearby poplar plantation. Despite the birds best efforts we managed to spot it as it continued to call from various perches, and this display was quickly followed by an obliging hobby that hunted around us at low level giving super views in perfect light.

Joining more of our group at the Joist Fen viewpoint we spent a while watching marsh harriers flying over the reed beds, and a number of distant hobbies high in the sky before a bittern flew past in leisurely fashion, looking very brown and relaxed. With a large rain cloud threatening we headed for the visitor centre and some late refreshment before starting for home.

Just outside the entrance some of us were treated to a solo concert performed by a wren, very close on a low branch that got the camera shutters clicking.

Our total of species for the day was a creditable 77.