Places to see birds

Fowlmere RSPB Reserve near Cambridge

Fowlmere RSPB Reserve near Cambridge
Peter Antram

Fowlmere is an RSPB Reserve near Cambridge. An isolated fen of some 86 acres situated within arable farmland, it comprises reedbeds and pools fed by spring water including a crystal clear chalk stream which runs through the reserve. The reserve also has areas of scrub and woodland giving it a wide range of habitat.

The surrounding arable fields are home to skylark which can be heard high in the sky. Listen out also for yellowhammer and corn bunting which may be perched on the telephone wires.
The reserve is home to a number of warbler species and is excellent for learning not just the different plumages but also the songs and calls.

In the reedbeds the rather secretive reed warblers breed, their rather monotonous dreary call betraying their presence. But look out for this very plain reddish brown bird with the pale throat creeping up and down the red stems. The noisy sedge warbler chatters away as it rises into the air and parachutes down in a characteristic display flight. Look out for the distinctive cream supercilium. Chiffchaff and willow warblers are both present and are best distinguished by their calls and song. Common whitethroat is another warbler usually found in the scrubby areas with brambles. Listen out for the scratchy song and watch the tops of the brambles. Blackcap and garden warbler are two which look very different but sound quite similar, although for me the blackcap has a much more melodious song. Look out for them in the scrubby areas.

The raised hide which looks over the reedbed is a good place to stop and look. Cuckoos are frequently seen, seeking out the nests of reed warblers. And the purring telephone-like call of the turtle dove drifts over the reedbed from the surrounding trees. Look out also for a dashing hobby as it hunts hirundine or dragonflies over the reedbeds where kestrel may also hunt. Kingfisher may be seen as the sun catches that iridescent blue as it crosses the open water.
Little grebe, coot and moorhen all nest around the lagoon edges and water rail have been seen feeding their young. Fowlmere is a wonderful reserve to visit to enjoy some of our best flora and fauna. Not just the birds but grass snake, stoat and water shrews also have been seen on previous visits.

Copyright Fred Twilley 2002

Sightings from previous visits at various times of the year.
Teal, wigeon, shoveller, gadwall, mallard, tufted duck, pochard, coot, moorhen, water rail, little grebe, great crested grebe, mute swan, Canada goose, barnacle goose, kingfisher, common tern, siskin, redpoll, goldfinch, green finch, chaffinch, bullfinch, goldcrest, chiffchaff, willow warbler, blackcap, garden warbler, whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, nightingale, song thrush, mistle thrush, redwing, fieldfare, long-eared owl, bittern, smew, grey heron, cormorant, cuckoo, kestrel, sparrowhawk, great spotted woodpecker, lesser spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker, tree creeper, long-tailed, blue and great tits, robin.