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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Visit to Wicken Fen 25/01/2020- I HIGHLY RECOMMEND to pay this place a visit (1 Viewer)

G

Gleb Berloff

Guest
Hello everyone,
Would like to share details and recommendations about my trip to Wicken Fen which took place yesterday.
For everyone reading, it is surely much easier to visit for those with cars. As for me, stuck car-less, I had to use unreliable trains to Ely. And then cycled along the National Cycle route 11 to Wicken. Though it was exhausting with the wind in my face the entire way there, it was a very beautiful route, with kestrels and buzzards all over the place, and at one point I caught sight of a roe deer.
At Wicken Fen, I went down to Burwell Fen via cycle route 11. I reache dthe bridge over Burwell Lode, observing kestrels all the way, and sat down on a mound to look for short-eared owls.
For all reading, this is THE spot for those birds, as there are four of them, and I guarantee 100% success if you visit the place. The owls are fast and manoeuvrable, but amazingly photogenic, even better than the superb Lakenheath fen barn owls, which are visible at Brandon Fen and are also 100% guaranteed, though much later in the day.
I waited a long time, observing flocks of fieldfares and ducks. Several times marsh harriers flew over, spooking the lot. At one time, I began talking with an elderly couple who said they visited the place four consecutive days, and each times the SEOs were very generous with incredible views. Soon enough, they caught sight of a very distant SEO, but it went down quickly. Later on, they spied a harrier lurking in a bush, but even I with my zoom could not identify it. A short while later, observing the fenced field right in front of the bridge, I saw a SEO erupt from the grass, and start flying around. It flew low, almost at grass-level height. I took several views, including a video of it hunting which for the first 5+ seconds is awful, but then is good.
The SEO seems to completely ignore us humans, and at one point got within 20 meters of me, flying in front of me before dropping down into grass, poking its head up and looking around like a periscope. After several lovely views, I decided it was time to return to the VC and look for hen harriers.
Last year- I was in the tower hide, and regretted it. They were right in front of the boardwalk hide the entire time. So I payed that hide a visit, and as we waited some other birders shared their experience. I listened in amazement and dissapointment at the luck of a couple which was at Burwell Fen which didn't see the owls, but actually saw a hunting male hen harrier!
Very soon, marsh harriers began trickling in, and as we watched them, me taking pictures, I saw a marsh harrier lunge at another harrier. I took a picture of that harrier. As I later figured out, that was a male hen harrier, way in the distance!
As we watched, a ringtail appeared in the bushes to the left, just like last time, but kept on 'stalling' and 'crashing' into the reeds.
We waited for a long time, way more than yesterday, for the birds to appear. And finally a male appeared near the big trees in the distance, flew across my vision, and began circling with a female near... the tower hide!!
As I watched and videoed, they circled before dropping down. Shame there was no-one at the tower hide to enjoy that show! Altogether, there were 3+ of them, 2 females and one male.
As it got dark, I got back on my bike and speeded down to Ely, and as I cycled along the Great Ouse riverbank, I saw a barn owl hunting there.
I highly recommend this place a visit, but be warned that the hen harriers are incredibly unreliable. Whilst I 100% guarantee a SEO after 2:30-3:00, hen harriers can arrive any time, anywhere, but most start at the far end and move towards the boardwalk. If there are no people out at the boardwalk, they will continue up to the visitor center. As I was recommended, and from my understanding, choose a windy, sunny day, for maximum success.
Plan on returning here when my half-term starts on the 15th solely for SEOs, and on the 16th solely for hen harriers. If you prefer walking and buses, the number 12 bus stops at Soham, including a stop right next to the road to Wicken in Downfields. From there, it is 1hr 7 mins to the reserve.
Choose a VERY windy day for maximum success with the hen harriers. For the SEOs, just pop down to Burwell Fen and they will be more than happy to display in front of you :)
But if you really want reliable male hen harrier and merlin views, consider Roydon Common NNR near King's Lynn. For the past days each day, a male has been seen there long before dusk. Hope to check it out next week.
I apologise for the atrocious images- visit https://twitter.com/3C_273_Quasar
if you are interested.
 

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KenM

Well-known member
Sounds like you had an enjoyable day out Glebb and after so much effort, you were duly rewarded well done. :t:
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
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