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Post Info TOPIC: Great Fen, Cambridgeshire

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RE: Great Fen, Cambridgeshire

I was in the Peterborough area visiting family for Christmas and it seemed rude not to drop in on this fantastic reserve and try to track down its recent star bird.

28/12: Holme Fen 9am-4pm in overcast but dry conditions

Rough-Legged Buzzard (Lifer) - Following online directions, I marched out to the northernmost corner of the northern loop trail or 'Last of the Meres Trail' as they've dubbed it. This provides a good viewpoint over the fields to the north and east of the reserve. There were plenty of other raptors about, but after a number of false starts and almost an hour, the Rough-Legged Buzzard drifted into view. It then showed fantastically for the best part of 2 hours, only disappearing for half an hour in the middle. It spent most of it's time hovering (dangling its legs like a Marsh Harrier), but also sat obligingly in full view for 20 minutes. It really gave me chance to see the pale streaking on it's head and back, as well as the extensive white patch that extends almost to the end of the tail.

Brilliant views and a fantastic bird! Really chuffed, as its a species I've missed out on a few times before.

The reserve offered a great supporting cast, with the highlights below. Its already got some noteworthy species, but given their plans for further management and investment this place could be something really special in a few years.

Also seen -

7+ Red Kite (Difficult to keep track of how many individual birds, but there could well have been more than 10)
2 Short-Eared Owl
1 Marsh Harrier
1 Merlin
3 Kestrel
1 Common Buzzard
1 Sparrowhawk
200+ Stock Dove (Huge flock that scattered everytime a Red Kite wandered past)
10+ Corn Bunting
150+ Redwing
8 Fieldfare
2 Whooper Swan

5+ Chinese Water Deer

Also, in farmland back towards Yaxley village:

12 Red-Legged Partridge
4 Grey Partridge
1 Barn Owl
Murmuration of around 150 Starlings


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Another call in as I was in the area

Heard the Water Deer

Birds Good views of a pair of Green woodpecker, usual warblers including Reed Warbler and Marsh Harrier

Dragon and Damsel were in their hundreds and very active so hard to ID but included Southern Hawker, Scarce Chaser , and White Legged Damsel

Plants Very Similar to local wet areas in Bury, Frogbit, Water Mint, Hemp Agrimony, Marsh Pennywort, Water Dock, Yellow and Purple Loosestrife and the not common at all Common Bladderwort in flower (Carnivorous Plant)

Butterflies Peacock, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Small TTshell, More Common Whites, Clouded Yellow, Ringlet, and the best sight ever a huge Purple Emperor even a passable photo high up in willlow


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Originally posted today by Ian Boote: -

This is an ambitious project to return a large area of farmland back to fen land and to link remants in the area. A bit of bumpf from theWebsite
'After just a decade, more than 50% of the land of the Great Fen is now owned by the Great Fen partners with 2140 acres (866 hectares) of land in restoration and 3310 acres (1340 hectares) managed for nature conservation (including the two National Nature Reserves of Woodwalton Fen and Holme Fen). By the end of 2013 there will be 3750 acres (1519 hectares) managed for nature conservation.'

The visit was to Woodwalton after visiting family. This was an area maintained since the 1920s by a local naturalist. The site is brush heathland, ponds, dykes and reed beds. The ground level has dropped about one metre since 1920. Anyway sightings Jay, 2 Marsh Harrier, Common Tern Reed Warbler, Wilow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Greylag Goose, Kestrel, Reed Bunting, Mute Swan, Cuckoo, Gadwall, Lapwing, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker and usuals. Other sights Dragon fly family Four Spotted Chaser, Red Damsel, Common Darter, Butterflies Speckled Wood, Green Viened White and Peacock and the Reason for the visit Chinese Water Deer also known as Vampire Deer due to having tusks rather than antlers. They are farely common in suitible habitat in the east of the UK and are mainly descended from escapees from a population at Woburn . Despite a big chunk of the reserve closed due to breeding birds saw 6 manily does but at least one buck in moult. Quite skitty but one doe was within 15 metres posed for photos.


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