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RSPB Lakenheath Fen- THE best East Anglian reserve

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Old Friday 7th February 2020, 18:12   #1
Gleb Berloff
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RSPB Lakenheath Fen- THE best East Anglian reserve

Lakenheath is the best reserve in Britain, in my opinion, and I have been here many times and still do not tire of it, despite visiting other sites like Welney, Slimbridge and Wicken Fen. Best in spring, where cuckoos and other visitors arrive, and there is the distinct possibility for a red-footed falcon or a passing Montagu's harrier. I have observed many species in this region, which I thought would be nice to share with you. Be warned, however, that the Golden Orioles for which the reserve was best known have dissappeared. I recommend visiting Spain or Russia for this species.
I have personally seen:
Red-footed falcon female 31/05/18 present in the area around Mere Hide
Bitterns seen on a regular basis here, the last being on the 19/01/20. This reserve offers spectacular views of them on the ground at times, especially in the summer at Mere Hide, and it is almost guaranteed here. Be warned, however, this usually involves feeding flights
Cuckoos are present here in enormous numbers every summer. The better summer for them was 2018, but in 2019 there was a lovely chorus of them as well. This was also the only year when I got decent photos.
Hobbies breed, and reach enormous numbers-up to 40-in the start of May. They often provide excellent views in flight, and if tracked to a perch can offer prolonged observation.
Peregrines are regularly sighted here, however I have not seen any since Spring 2019 here.
There are two pairs of barn owls breeding on the reserve. These are best looked for towards a summer evening near Brandon Fen.
Merlins often use the area, though this year has been very bad for them
There is a massive roost of whooper and tundra swans in the evening and winter at the Washland
Cranes breed, but are extremely difficult to see. In fact, on a difficulty scale, I would rate them worse than a bittern and even a cuckoo. They use the fields beyond the railway and can be seen flying overhead. I have gone here many times, and I have seen them only twice, and pictured them only once. Count yourself extremely fortunate if you discover one for yourself.
Marsh harriers breed. These get all over the place in the summer.
I have observed a Montagu's harrier here in 2019 when it was passing through.
Hen harriers are present sporadically, and this year there was just one of them.
Buzzards, red kites, and sparrowhawks are regularly seen
Tawny owls are resident
The best time to visit this place is in May, when there are hobbies here and there is a possibility of RF falcon among them. In 2019 there was none that I know of, though there was a male nearby in Santon Downham. Bitterns are easy to see here, actually, but patience is required. Barn owls are guaranteed at Brandon Fen at the right time, and are superb birds for pictures. But the cranes are extremely uncooperative.
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Old Friday 7th February 2020, 18:17   #2
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Some more images which I failed to attach
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Old Friday 7th February 2020, 18:40   #3
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Was talking to one of the wardens there a couple of years back, and the plan then was to try and manage the old Bryant & May plantations, erstwhile Golden O habbo, to try and encourage Nightingales & Lesser Spots, which would certainly improve what is already an excellent reserve. Whether it's the best in East Anglia, well, until I've visited them all I'd have to reserve judgement. But it might be.
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Old Friday 7th February 2020, 19:37   #4
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Hi Gleb, very bold statement to make but I'm guessing you've spent time at some of the sites in Norfolk such as Cley, Hickling, Holkham, Holme and Titchwell (to name the well known reserves) that have a history steeped not only for migrants but one or two rarities. East Anglia is wonderful no doubt but surely the 10s of thousands of wintering Pinkfeet takes some beating, or is it the raptor roost at Stub Mill, I once counted over 100 Marsh Harriers but that was an exceptional winter.
Cheers, P

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Old Friday 7th February 2020, 20:11   #5
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Minsmere is also in East Anglia....

Lakenheath is nice but "the best" is a stiff competition and sometimes it comes down to what kind of day you have.... Titchwell is very hard to beat, and not as long a walk as Lakenheath to see it all, either!

Anyway, some Lakenheath Cranes attached.

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Old Friday 7th February 2020, 20:17   #6
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Lovely image! I guess it all boils down to opinion. Some might say Holkham, some might say Leighton Moss, some might say Minsmere... depends on which species you like most, really.
I've heard of Titchwell. In my opinion, Lakenheath is better for raptors, which I prefer the most. And love the amount of hobbies here and cuckoos, and easy access for me. And those are some amazing pictures, where did you take these? I have only distant flight views!
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Old Saturday 8th February 2020, 03:37   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gleb Berloff View Post
Lovely image! I guess it all boils down to opinion. Some might say Holkham, some might say Leighton Moss, some might say Minsmere... depends on which species you like most, really.
I've heard of Titchwell. In my opinion, Lakenheath is better for raptors, which I prefer the most. And love the amount of hobbies here and cuckoos, and easy access for me. And those are some amazing pictures, where did you take these? I have only distant flight views!

Your geography is a bit out there- Leighton Moss isn't remotely near East Anglia! Well it is in England!

I would have to go for Minsmere or Titchwell, but it's great to have some wonderful sites in East Anglia.
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Old Sunday 9th February 2020, 00:04   #8
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Leighton Moss does not compare to Minsmere, Cley, Lakenheath Fen etc.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Gleb Berloff View Post
Lovely image! I guess it all boils down to opinion. Some might say Holkham, some might say Leighton Moss, some might say Minsmere... depends on which species you like most, really.
I've heard of Titchwell. In my opinion, Lakenheath is better for raptors, which I prefer the most. And love the amount of hobbies here and cuckoos, and easy access for me. And those are some amazing pictures, where did you take these? I have only distant flight views!
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Old Sunday 9th February 2020, 00:16   #9
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I have been to Lakenheath once and loved it. It is an inland reserve so does not attract many rarities as say Cley or Minsmere but still a beautiful place with lots of nice wildlife.
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Old Sunday 9th February 2020, 19:23   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Himalaya View Post
I have been to Lakenheath once and loved it. It is an inland reserve so does not attract many rarities as say Cley or Minsmere but still a beautiful place with lots of nice wildlife.
When did you visit? I think the reserve is best in early may due to the Hobby spectacle...
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Old Monday 10th February 2020, 09:42   #11
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My vote has to go to Minsmere - I can't think of anywhere else with such a diversity of quality habitats in such a small area, especially if you also take into account the surrounding area down to Sizewell (Kittiwake colonies and Black Redstarts) and up to Dunwich (Nightjars and Dartford Warblers).

Having said that, I love Lakenheath Fen as well. Much easier to get to by public transport for one thing.
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Old Monday 10th February 2020, 09:45   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gleb Berloff View Post
I've heard of Titchwell. In my opinion, Lakenheath is better for raptors, which I prefer the most. And love the amount of hobbies here and cuckoos, and easy access for me. And those are some amazing pictures, where did you take these? I have only distant flight views!
I think you need to visit the other fantastic reserves such as Titchwell, Minsmere etc before proclaiming that Lakenheath is better!
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Old Monday 24th February 2020, 03:14   #13
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Fantastic place always found something whatever time of year
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