Early signs of success for Lakenheath Fen expansion


In the year since expansion began at Lakenheath Fen, there has been encouraging signs of success among breeding wildlife, according to the RSPB. 

Last year, the charity began work transforming arable fields into wetland habitat as part of an expansion of the famous reserve on the Suffolk/Norfolk border.

Site manager Dave Rogers said: "We've seen some immediate reaction from some species – and Western Marsh Harriers in particular. Previously it was open, arable fields and now there's a lot more vegetation, there's a lot more prey items for the harriers to go after, a lot more mammals like voles and young hares.

Western Marsh Harrier has been one of the species to have benefitted from the wetland expansion at Lakenheath Fen (Nick Brown).


Extra wetlands

Lakenheath Fen consists of some 500 ha of reedbeds, grazed fenland and wet grasslands. Approximately 67 ha of former arable land was taken over last year and the RSPB removed drainage pipes, added sluice dams and raised the water levels.

Eventually the charity wants to create a sedge-dominated habitat, explained Mr Rogers.

He said: "We've been able to get it wet from March onwards because of all the rain we've had – there are waders out here, including Northern Lapwing and egrets feeding along the ditches, and we've had a lot of ducks."


Rare breeding birds

Construction company Morgan Sindall Group has a long-term relationship with the RSPB and helped fund the acquisition. Graham Edgell, sustainability and procurement director, said the purchase "allowed the RSPB to join up an existing patchwork quilt of land into a more cohesive nature reserve".

The RSPB hopes to entice Common Crane, Eurasian Bittern, Northern Lapwing, Common Redshank and Eurasian Skylark to feed or breed on the new habitat.