I was supposed to go to Lakenheath and Weeting Heath with my bird society on Saturday but I wimped out. I should add that I hadn’t done the official sign-up, so they weren’t expecting me. But I’m a member of both RSPB (for Lakenheath) and the NWT (for Weeting Heath) so adding myself to the group for general walks wouldn’t have been a problem.
If you’ve vaguely heard of Lakenheath, it’s because it was a major RAF and USAF base. It’s in the Breckland area of Norfolk, nice and flat, surrounded by miles of trees, and easy to hide from public view (save for the road that goes past the end of the runway). I think the public view bit is deliberate. There were tales of a UFO in that vicinity several years ago (decades, probably). The RSPB reserve has been developed out of farmland, and is probably about twenty years old now. The main attraction used to be the Golden Oriole, but they don’t seem to have been there for a few years now. Bitterns, cranes, marsh harriers and all the other marshland species are, though. There’s also an abundance of dragonflies, but I’m dong those later in the month.
I have seen several bitterns now, and some of them not even on reserves, which is pretty special. They were extinct in the UK until the early seventies, when the RSPB’s Minsmere reserve managed to give just the right conditions for a pair to settle from the Netherlands. The following year more came, and then they found their way to Blacktoft fen in Lancashire, another RSPB site, and so it continues.
The pictures here are from the blog at the RSPB Lakenheath Fen reserve website. Copyright remains with the contributors on the blog.
Weeting Heath was more for moths and for nightjars – a change of venue for the bird society’s annual nightjar watch. I’ll take a trip out to one of the closer ones on a nice evening this month, and report back for you!