I made an impromtu visit to the National Trust’s Wicken Fen reserve yesterday as I was in the East visiting a friend. I haven’t had a good walk around the Fen for around a decade so it was good to see it in spring and in the sunshine. I worked at Wicken for seven years a while back and so it was equally good to see the progress that has been made by the team since then.
The Sedge Fen was really quite wet which for a wetland is a good thing – indeed some of the paths were closed as a result. The re-routed boardwalk was excellent. It wasn’t very long before we heard a booming bittern, saw a male marsh harrier and heard a Cetti’s warbler (counted 13 singing males in total around the reserve). The former and the latter never bred on the Fen when I was there.
It was also good to see this wind pump – another addition since my time. It takes water from one of the alkali rich Lodes (fenland watercourses) and pumps it into the ditches of the old Fen. I spent years trying to sort this out and it is good to see a project in partnership with the Environment Agency has come together.
Wicken Fen is growing all the time and is now pretty big – I never got down as far a Burwell Fen – this was arable land in the early 2000s and we acquired it as part of the Wicken Fen Vision to restore it back to wetland for people and wildlife – by all accounts it now looks very different and is host to a range of classic fen species – next time I will try and visit it!
I was very impressed with the wildlife I saw, the quality of the habitat and the progress in the creation of new wetlands. A great race is now underway to see who can create the best wetlands – Wicken Fen and its co-partners at the Great Fen Project and Lakenheath Fen or the Avalon Marshes Partnership in the Somerset Levels.
I don’t mind who wins as long as it is nature.