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Wednesday, 6 July 2016

A few days in Suffolk!

I recently had a few pleasant days down at the Lakenheath nature reserve in Suffolk.The weather forecast looked good, so I decided to set off early morning and hopefully miss the majority of traffic.All went to plan and I was pulling up on the carpark shortly before 7.30am.A short walk and I was at the first viewing screen,Cuckoos were calling and the reeds were alive with reed warblers and Whitethroat!Birds seemed to be flitting about all over!Suddenly an otter came into view but was soon lost behind a small island..what a great start to the day.

I knew Kingfisher had been reported from this particular viewpoint,but the only one that I saw, was perched up on some reed about 50 metres away!The photos below were taken from the Mere hide lower down the reserve.
The mere hide wasn,t in operation the last time that I visited the reserve,so it was a pleasant surprise to stumble across it as I made my way along the footpath.Opening one of the window shutters,a kingfisher rapidly departed one of the perches that had been put in place!Damn,should have been more careful,anyway I had plenty of time to weigh things up and hopefully one may show again!
A fifteen minute wait and the bird returned to the same perch.Everything was in place and I quietly went about obtaining some images.This seemed to be an adult female,judging by the orange lower mandible!In all the kingfisher showed quite well,but I did have the hide to myself,and kept noise and movement to a minimum!I don,t think she would hang around long if there was a lot of people in the hide!
Below is another Kingfisher that was at another reserve that I visited later in the day,this one though entailed a lengthy wait in the hide before it showed!
Kingfishers have 2 broods and a few of the juveniles showed very well for me.I was particularly pleased that this one decided to land in a small willow tree to the right of the scrape and with the aid of some nice evening light,it made for a pleasing picture!
Back at Lakenheath the next day,I learned that the Cranes had bred and they had a juvenile with them.I was lucky to see both adults having a good fly around whilst I was there.Usually they can be seen in their favourite place, albeit 200 yes away,not very good for a photo though!You can just make out their heads in the long grass at that distance!

Garden warbler and cuckoo were evident on the reserve and a few record shots were gained of both.
One of the highlights of the day was this flyby Hobby!In early may, as many as 60 birds hawk insects over the reeds.These are fresh in from Africa and gather up at the fen, for a  few days before they disperse further north to breed.An odd pair stay around and usually fledge a few youngsters on the reserve!

With so many reed and sedge warblers about,cuckoo numbers are quite high on the fen.Each female can lay as many as 12 eggs before they leave in mid/late june back to Africa.The males seem to depart a few weeks later!I have actually sponsored a cuckoo this year called Larry.He was caught and sat tagged last year in the north west of england and has already departed on his southern migration through Italy.
I have never seen or heard as many whitethroat as I have at Lakenheath,there are really good numbers here,my local patch usually has 2 or 3 pairs maximum,which I eagerly await every Spring.This particular year they were held back by strong northerly winds and were up to 2 weeks late on site!

So that concludes my brief visit to the fens of Suffolk.Sadly the Golden Orioles haven,t returned this year and I,m led to believe that they last bred there some 5 yrs back,again a very sad loss, they used to bring lots of birdwatchers from far and wide.Maybe they will return in the coming years.I for one miss their flutey call amongst the poplar trees!Stay well,keep safe and many thanks for dropping in on my blog,catch up soon!