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Nature’s November haul will blow away the blues says RSPB Lakenheath Fens David White


By David White


I have to admit, I am not a big fan of November. It’s cold, it’s dark and it seems to drag on forever. However, even though it is my least favourite month of the year, I still try to make sure I spend as much time as possible out on the reserve, as there is often plenty to see.

As long as time allows, I always try to get out for a walk around the reserve every morning before work. In November, this usually means a quick stride around the Brandon Fen family trail. There is often some great wildlife to be found, which helps to get me in the mood for the working day ahead.

Barn owls are usually top of the list, as the regularly hunt near the visitor centre. They are always a treat as they are not as numerous as they used to be.

Redwing Turdus iliacus, adult perched on snow covered ground, The Lodge RSPB Nature Reserve, Bedfordshire, February (5432128)
Redwing Turdus iliacus, adult perched on snow covered ground, The Lodge RSPB Nature Reserve, Bedfordshire, February (5432128)

There are also usually mixed flocks of so-called ‘winter thrushes’ chattering away up in the poplar trees. These are usually a mixture of fieldfares and redwings, and the occasional brambling, all familiar winter migrants that come here to escape the (much colder!) Scandinavian winter. If I am really lucky, I may come across a small flock of bearded tits feeding in the reeds, which entertain me with their trapeze artist-like agility and colourful markings.

It is also a good time to see mammals. I often see a little gang of roe deer grazing at the edge of the entrance track as I drive in. They are occasionally joined by the smaller muntjac deer, which can be heard barking from deep within the poplars and elders.

The month of November also tends to be the most reliable month of the year for seeing the elusive otters that call the reserve home. However, as my walk is relatively short, I would be lucky to even find signs of one of these enigmatic creatures, let alone see one.

There are, of course, plenty of other things to see in November that I haven’t mentioned above. The resident marsh harriers that call the reserve home are often joined by other species of birds of prey at this time of year. This can include a couple of hen harriers, one or two merlins and also a peregrine falcon, the fastest animal on earth. In order to see these, your best bet is to head down to Joist Fen viewpoint on the reserve during the afternoon. I would definitely recommend wrapping up warm if you plan to do that though.

So there you have it, although I may grumble about November and am always glad to see the back of it, there is still plenty to see if I make the effort to get out on the reserve. I hope this article has inspired you to do the same. We hope to see you on the reserve soon.

David White is visitor experience officer at the reserve



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