Monday, 15 July 2019
Summer On The Fen
I was last at Wicken Fen, ten miles or so NE of Cambridge, back in January when everything looked a lot less green and a little more bleak than now in mid-summer.
Back then the Highland Cattle were up to their hairy knees in mud and water, grazing on whatever rough vegetation they could find. Now they are sheltering under the shade of the trees and bushes, trying to rid themselves of the flies that inevitably find them. There are other less irritating insects around too....
…..a Gatekeeper butterfly and a Ruddy Darter dragonfly were two that stuck around long enough to photograph.
The above view is looking across Adventurers' Fen. Don't expect to find any survival experts or rugged explorers here though; the adventurers in question were those who "adventured" their money to pay for the land to be drained and subsequently were rewarded with parcels of the new land.
The bird hides are still open though you won't see the flocks of wintering wildfowl or the specialist winter birds of prey like Short-Eared Owls or Hen Harriers. But you might find a Marsh Harrier or two, or perhaps a Cuckoo. You just never know.
Near the hide is this curious bridge, built so that the herds of cattle or Konik ponies that graze the area can make their way to all parts of the reserve.
Harrison's Drove leads between Adventurers' Fen and Baker's Fen. I really don't mind what wildlife I see or don't see; I enjoy the simple pleasure of putting one foot in front of the other in such peaceful surroundings, especially when the sun is shining and a refreshing breeze is blowing.
A little standing water can be seen from Charlie's Hide. The hide is small and a rather rough structure, like most hides used to be. I expect it will be replaced soon - a pity.
A lot of new land has been added to the reserve in recent years, all part of an ambitious plan to create a reserve of 13,000 acres (5,260 hectares). So far the land managed for nature totals about 2,000 acres (809 hectares), all a big improvement from the 2 acres which were bought for £10 in 1899.
Over 9,300 species have been recorded in this unique landscape. One of the more recent ones gave a sudden loud burst of song from the bushes - a Cetti's Warbler. They first bred down in Kent in 1972, now there are reckoned to be 2,000 breeding pairs in the country. Infuriatingly you hardly ever see them though; they hide in dense undergrowth and you just know they're present from their abrupt blasts of song.
The water lilies are flowering along Wicken Lode.
A great place to spend a few hours walking around then. But you don't have to walk if you don't want to; the National Trust also do boat trips in their electric-powered boat.