Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Back To Fen Drayton Lakes

On Tuesday my brother and I paid a visit to the RSPB's Fen Drayton Lakes bird reserve, the nearest reserve to Les's home.


The RSPB are re-opening their sites, though places like Fen Drayton Lakes have never really been completely closed as most of it is accessible by public footpath anyway, and these have been open all the time. The hides are still closed off, which persuaded us to take a different route from our usual circuit.


The area was once exploited for its sand and gravel, like much of the valley of the River Great Ouse. The flooded pits were discovered by passing birds long before the RSPB took over the site, and I used to come here in those days, walking in by footpaths and along the abandoned railway from Swavesey or St Ives.


I think these "lock gates" were put here so they could be closed when the river level rose to stop the floodwaters inundating the gravel workings, but I've never found out whether barges were ever used to move the quarried materials away. Whatever their original purpose they seem no longer "up for the fight".


.....neither, by the look of it, is this old abandoned trailer which is almost submerged by the wild flowers and weeds.


The plant pictured above is Purple Salsify, which was originally brought into the country as a garden flower. Its root can also be eaten as a vegetable. Although it is, I suppose, an invasive species, it's one that's been here long enough to be regarded as a native plant by most people. Like its close relation, Goat's Beard, the flowers open up in the morning and close again around mid day, giving both plants the country name of "Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon".


Every inch of the earth banks is a rich medley of plants at this time of year; this is actually alongside the "Busway", a special dedicated route for buses which now occupies the line of the old railway.


I think these are Limousin cattle which are kept primarily for beef, though this was once an important area for dairying.  


It was very dry here earlier in the year and some of the plants and grasses are now a fine blend of sepia. Of course, now that it should be high summer, endless grey clouds are rolling in from the west. 


Under cloudy skies the lakes shine like silver, especially on a still day.


The pink flower goes by the name of Great Hairy Willowherb, which sounds like you could use it as an insult - "What did you do that for, you great hairy willowherb!"


And the pinkish-purple flowers in the distance are Rosebay Willowherb, which sounds much more poetic to my ear.

For those interested in such things here's a bird list from our morning: 
Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-Tailed Tit, Greenfinch, Yellowhammer, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Turtle Dove, Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Dunnock, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie, Swallow, Starling, Chiffchaff, Common Tern, Cormorant, Black-Headed Gull, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Lapwing, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Egyptian Goose, Canada Goose, Coot, Moorhen, Reed Bunting, Sedge Warbler, Oystercatcher, Grey Heron.


Take care.


22 comments:

  1. You have such lovely areas for a walk! It is so hot here that I hate to go outside especially when a mask is necessary.

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  2. Sounds a splendid reserve John with that long bird list and a good variety of wild flowers. Lovely photographs as usual.

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  3. What a super reserve! I feel Wild flowers come in to their own at this time of year, such a variety as your images testify! Good to read of the history of the reserve and also of the great variety of bird species seen!
    It sounds a good walk.

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  4. Looks like a great spot to visit, John. When I have visited RSPB reserves during visits to the UK I have always enjoyed them and the staff there have been very helpful. I also got a couple of good deals on books that were on sale. Great list of birds you encountered.

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  5. I wish I could take that walk! Or had a place similar. But on these hot days, would be miserable. It is down to 90°F here today...it has been being 92,93...every day. Besides all that beauty, the birds would be a treasure.

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  6. My gracious, that's a lot of different birds!

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  7. How I loved wandering with you. My bird/word/green obsessed self had a truly wonderful time. Thank you.

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  8. What a beautiful place for a nice, long picturesque walk. Looks peaceful and serene there. I love name "Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon" for that flower. A wonderful journey. Thank you for sharing it.

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  9. It looks like a reserve worth a visit. That's a good bird list too!

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  10. The places you walk always are very beautiful. I enjoyed coming along for the stroll, thank you!

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  11. Love that ninth photo, man and the reflection on a grey day.

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  12. Hi John - thanks for your wander around the old gravel beds ... always delightful - lots of history around this landscape ... and I love the flower names - stay safe - Hilary

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  13. Everytime I see your walks I get an urge to head out and do the same John, that is a super impressive list of birds seen on this trip đź’›

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  14. That is a good bird list John.

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  15. I've never been to an RSPB site but my wife & I have meant to visit one, just never got around to it. Looks a very interesting one to visit

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  16. What an interesting area and the history of it. I love all those birds. Wow! So many different ones in one area. I'd love to be there with my camera. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

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  17. Oh my, those baby cattle are beautiful! And I love all the water birds. I agree that the water looks like silver. These flower names are all new to me, and I love learning about them. You have a super weekend, hugs, Edna B.

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  18. John, I enjoy seeing these walks taken by yourself and your brother. Do you also explore along the former railways? We just finished watching a limited series on Acorn TV that featured walks along many former railways. We marveled at how wonderful many of these looked back then when they were operating railways (shown through archive photos) and now as pedestrian walkways.

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  19. One of the things I like about Britain is many nature, wildlife reserves. Really worth visiting. I tried to imagine the appearance of each bird; sparrow, grey heron…are easy but mostly difficult. The silver-shining lake under the pearly grey sky is soothing. I wish the muddy flood water submerging houses, cars, fields…in my country were transformed by a magic wand into wild flowers and weeds like the photo #4. Take care,

    Yoko

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