Monday, 6 May 2013

Red-footed Falcon: Lakenheath

A late text message from Brian has us meeting up at 5.45am and heading for Lakenheath in Suffolk.
With the failed attempt to add Red-footed Falcon at Ouse Washes on Saturday fresh in the mind, we pull into the car park not taking anything for granted.
Setting off along the grass bank, the reedbeds are alive with both Sedge and Reed Warblers plus Reed Buntings. Whitethroats are also present in good numbers.
Scanning the Mute Swans along the Little Ouse River we locate the Whooper Swan among them.It's an ideal opportunity for a few photos.

Whooper Swan

Reaching Joist Fen in glorious sunshine, we take advantage of the vacant bench and start scanning the fen. Cuckoo's are calling frequently and it's not long before one is found perched at the top of a tree, giving decent scope views.
While Scanning for the Cuckoo I spot my first Whinchat of the year, it's sitting up in the bush next to the Cuckoo. A year tick for all three of us.
The sun is out and the temperature is hotting up. It's not long before the first Marsh Harriers are spotted in the air. A male flies through with it's catch and the female comes up to meet it. But the expected food pass never materialises.
Soon afterwards the first Hobby is seen in the sky, it's hawking at the back of the fen and then briefly lands in a tree.
More Hobbies become active, and while scoping them the Red-footed Falcon flies into view. A cracking male bird. Staying in the air for twenty minutes or more. It stays out of range of the camera, but the scope views are superb. All the disappointment of the dipped bird on Saturday gone in an instant.
That's birding for you!

News that a Purple Heron had been seen to drop into New Fen, sees us put in another hour search here, but  it's not to be found.
While scanning the fen a Grass Snake swims across the water in front of us. It heads straight towards a Mute Swan, but at the last minute turns away and heads for the reedbeds.

Grass Snake

On the walk back a dead Mole is found along the grass track,  no doubt it will become a meal for another bird or mammal later in the day. 

 The circle of life continues.


  1. Well done on the Red Footed Falcon!! We were at Lakenheath on saturday and were told it had been spotted the previous day, but the weather wasn't great and the Hobbies (and Falcon) stayed away. We did get the Whooper Swan, Crane (one legged!), Marsh Harrier, Egyptian Goose and a Bittern! Sunday was 4 Little Ringed Plover and RedThoated Diver at Layer Breton Causeway. Yesterday at Rainham was fantastic as well, my wife got locked in the toilets there (which was amusing, for me at least!), then got Common Sandpiper, Ruff, Hobby and Cuckoo on the year list. Beachy Head this weekend for some sea bird watching.

    Well done on a good weekends haul, the Bonaparte Gull is awesome!!

    Adam Commons

  2. Hi Adam
    After a bad day bird wise on Saturday, the weather and birding improved for Sunday and Monday.
    The Bonaparte's was a little cracker. Just a shame it didn't land on the pool in front of us for a photo.
    Yesterday was just a relaxing days birding. Walked to Joist Fen, sat ourselves down and waited for the birds to appear. The male Red-footed Falcon was a stunning bird, and although it didn't come very close, I managed to stay on the bird for a good twenty minutes with the aid of the scope.
    All being well I should be in Wales at some point on Friday, and I'm there until Sunday afternoon. I'll be hoping to add a few species to my year list before I return.

    1. Me and my wife have just spotted a Goshawk. It was soaring with a rounded tail good look with Binoculars. Initially (before bins) thought was a Buzzard (thats how big it was) incredibly a Buzzard was soaring overhead at the same time. Goshawk slightlu smaller. Disrinctly saw barred chest and tail. Location south weald country park. Very excited to see on our patch!!!!

      Adam and Christina Commons.

    2. Feel silly now, been told it was a Honey Buzzard! Told you I was a novice!

  3. It doesn't matter how long you have been birding, you are always learning something new. To have a Honey Buzzard over the patch is a great find.
    You can learn a lot from books and dvd's but there's no substitute for watching the birds in the field, and the more you do that the more you will learn and be able to id.
    Being told it was this bird or that bird doesn't mean that they are going to be right every time either.

    Remember everyone makes mistakes. Even the best birders.