New reserves and lots of birds

Sunshine drew me to East Anglia yesterday with the prospect of some good birdwatching at two reserves that I’d not visited before.
I arrived first at RSPB Lakenheath Fen just after lunch and the visitor centre was abuzz with talk of overflying Cranes and a Red-footed falcon about the reserve. I had no luck in seeing either bird, nor the almost mythical Golden Orioles that frequent these parts, but my long and leisurely exploration did offer up a marsh harrier, whitethroats, reed and sedge warblers, a hobby high above the reedbeds, scimitar shaped swifts, reed buntings, and cuckoos calling in the poplars.

A Common Whitethroat enjoying lunch

Reed Bunting (m)

Sedge Warbler

Later, in pursuit of a singing Nightingale I headed cross country to Little Paxton Gravel Pits, near St. Neots in Cambridgeshire. In contrast to the open spaces of the fens, the paths at Little Paxton were enclosed by shrubs and trees and alive with singing warblers. The lakes themselves were dark and quiet – at first sight only black headed gulls were about, slowly swinging across the water, then dipping down to grab a morsel from the water’s surface. I parked myself in the Kingfisher hide, positioned on a broken isthmus between two lakes on a tree cloaked promontory. From here the wide ranging views of the lakes allowed for better scanning of the water and after a few minutes I had found three common terns and the stirring sight of a hobby hunting a few feet above the surface, taking sustenance from the insect life rising from the lake. Walking back to my car a nightingale’s song rose in a thicket to my left, close to the path. Unfortunately it moved on whilst I frantically pulled recording equipment from my bag so I can’t share it’s sweet music. I’m tempted to return again to capture it, perhaps later in the evening when it’s voice stands alone, though I’ll need to hurry – if I leave it longer than a couple of weeks the singing season will have passed and I’ll have to wait another twelve months to hear the beauty of it’s song again.

A Hobby over the water at Paxton

Lakenheath Fen, Suffolk
Hobby, Marsh Harrier, Whitethroat, Swift, Crow, Great tit, Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Cuckoo, Lapwing, Great Crested Grebe, Goldfinch

Little Paxton Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire
Chiff-chaff, Nightingale, Common Tern, Hobby, Coot, Mute Swan, Black headed Gull, Great Crested Grebe

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