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Culture: Wildlife encounters the Beast from the East

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RSPB March reserve
RSPB March reserve

As I write this article in early March, there is a lot of snow on the ground. This is a result of the so-called Beast from the East that brought us some wintry weather during the last days of February and the first days of March. As the snow has had an interesting effect on our reserve wildlife here at RSPB Lakenheath Fen, I thought I would dedicate the rest of this article to this.

The changes in the local birds behaviour has been evident even when looking out of the visitor centre window across the pond. During the first couple of days of March, there were at least eight bramblings feeding on our visitor centre feeders on a regular basis. These northern cousins of our resident chaffinches have been present in very low numbers on the reserve until now, so it was really nice to see so many.

The fact the pond has been frozen over for the last week has also altered some bird’s behaviour. On February 28, I saw a woodcock, a normally nocturnal wading bird, attempt to cross the icy pond before flying off into the reedbed. A couple of days later, we also saw a usually very secretive water rail scuttle across the icy pond before falling into a snowy heap at the edge of the reeds. Hopefully, this poor little bird found the food it was looking for.

Meanwhile, further down the reserve, there have been large numbers of fieldfares roaming around the reserve in search of food. These Scandinavian thrushes were also reported in gardens regularly during the cold weather as they must have been really hungry.

As well as birds, there were large numbers of mammal footprints in the snow which made an interesting challenge identifying them. I certainly managed to identify some otter and rabbit footprints while I was out and about though.

Please note that from Sunday, April 1, we will be changing from a car park charge to an entrance charge for non-members of the RSPB. The new entrance charges will be: Adults £3, students £2 and children £1.50. We also have an offer of one child free per family party. The entrance charge is payable in the visitor centre and we take cash or credit card. The reserve is open at all times. The visitor centre and toilets are open daily 9am-5pm.

Hopefully, by the time you read this article, the weather will have warmed up a bit. If you would like to find out more information about the reserve, please ring 01842 863400 or email lakenheath@rspb.org.uk. We hope to see you on the reserve soon/

David White

Visitor experience officer

RSPB Lakenheath Fen