Naturelog: 14th May

Weeting Heath

A day on the Suffolk / Norfolk border with one of my local RSPB groups saw a bright and early start at the Weeting Heath reserve just over the Norfolk border. The highlight of this reserve is breeding Stone Curlews, a rare bird in the UK limited to just 2 areas (here in Breckland and on Salisbury Plain).

Stone Curlew. Photo by Sergey Yelissev (

Our arrival is greeted by some bad news. There are no nests in the area in front of the observation hides – in fact, there are very few nests on the reserve at all! A later talk with the warden revealed that this is true for many of the usual Breckland breeding sites and that some have no breeding birds at all. This is possibly due to a decrease in the number of adult birds who have made it to the UK this year (We are right on the northern edge of the breeding range), an increase in predators and a decrease in Rabbits (who keep the grass short, which the Stone Curlews like). The warden kindly offered to take us to a viewpoint where he can show us some birds and eventually we all got to see them through a telescope. They are very good at camouflage and can be very hard to see even when you know where they are.

Stone Curlews – can you see them?. Photo by Sergey Yelissev (

With that successfully achieved, there is time to walk through the reserve’s woodland and Spotted Flycatcher and Coal Tit were good sightings.

Spotted Flycatcher. Photo by Nick Goodrum (

Then it’s onto the nearby RSPB reserve at Lakenheath Fen.

The view from the Washland Viewpoint, RSPB Lakenheath

On arrival, most of us head off to the Washland viewpoint to see the Glossy Ibis, which has been here for a few weeks. This eastern European bird is being more frequently seen in the UK and birds seem content to stay once they arrived at a suitable habitat.

Glossy Ibis. Photo by Duncan McCaskill (

This achieved I head off to New Fen to look for Butterflies and Dragonflies and their accompanying predator, the Eurasian Hobby.  In all, I recorded 6 species of Butterfly and 4 species of Dragonfly including my first even definite sighting of Variable Damselfly.

Fenland reedbeds
Variable Damselfly. Photo by AJC1 (
Eurasian Hobby. Photo by Nick Goodrum (

Two hobbies hunt over the reedbed and give great views and an excellent display of aerobatic flying. A male Western Marsh Harrier drifts lazily across the Fen and a male Bearded tit does a quick fly-past as it travels from one area of reeds to another. A male Yellowhammer is another good sighting.

An excellent day for wildlife although few good photographic opportunities – still you can’t have everything!

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Stone-curlew [sp] (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Bearded Reedling [sp] (Panurus biarmicus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Spotted Flycatcher [sp] (Muscicapa striata)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Yellowhammer [sp] (Emberiza citrinella)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)
Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum)
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)
Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)

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