Tuesday, 29 November 2016

An afternoon at Wicken Fen

I found myself with an unexpected free afternoon one day last week, and as the sun was shining I decided to head out to a favourite place of mine - Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, one of Britain's oldest nature reserves. The first of the land was purchased in 1899 by the National Trust, who still manage the reserve today. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and a designated Ramsar Wetland.

It's a stunning place at any time of the year, and there's always something to see and plenty of footpaths to explore. I walked along Wicken Lode and found a place to sit and sketch. I saw a kingfisher, a little grebe, a buzzard and a kestrel and, a little surprisingly as we are at the end of November, a Red Admiral butterfly.

Field journal pages - Wicken Lode (Stillman and Birn beta sketchbook)
I walked and walked and ended up at Baker's Fen, where there is a nice new hide. I sat and watched lapwings, snipe and teal, and did a little bit more sketching. There was a peregrine falcon somewhere in the vicinity, and every so often the whole flock of waders would take panicky flight.

Some of the lapwing flock at Baker's Fen

Field journal pages - waders on Baker's Fen (Stillman and Birn beta sketchbook)

The sky was a glorious blue and the fen was in autumnal mode, which made for a very photogenic combination!

Wicken Fen

Wicken Fen

I also found some of the Konik ponies that are used to keep scrub regrowth under control.

Konik ponies at Wicken Fen NNR

Over the winter months the fen is a noted raptor roost - I saw my first hen harrier here last winter. The adjacent Burwell Fen is also a great place to see Short-eared Owls, another winter visitor. I'm planning another visit soon to try to get some owl sketching and photography done!


  1. It's such a fab place. And look at all those Lapwing! Oh my! Good luck with the Half :o) x

    1. Thanks CT! Looking forward to the half marathon. If I lived closer to Wicken it would be a great place for running, if a little flat!

    2. Presumably the Cambs Half isn't too hilly? I was thinking about it this morning while running up a hill here and feeling sick at the top! Where have you got to with your training? We can compare notes and encourage each other :o) x

    3. You're right, the Cambs half is, I am told, completely flat, and also a really lovely route. Looking forward to it (I think!). I've been injured and couldn't run for a few months this year, am slowly building back up now though. Did a 10k race at the weekend and survived! I will be following your progress on your blog :-)