Summer wildlife to look out for

Wicken Fen -  Kingfisher on a branch

Whether you're a seasoned wildlife watcher or you're finding out about nature for the first time, Wicken Fen is the perfect place to come exploring. Here are just a few of the wildlife wonders you might come across this summer.

Marsh Harriers

Marsh harriers performing mid-air food pass
Close pic of marsh harriers performing aerial food pass
Marsh harriers performing mid-air food pass

A graceful bird of prey with relatively long wings held in a pronounced 'V' in flight.

Males have a dark brown back, blue grey flight feathers and tail, and black wing tips. Females have mostly chocolate brown plumage, except for a pale-buff forehead.

When hunting they seldom fly more than a few metres above the reeds. Look out for males passing food mid-air to females, who do not allow males near to  a nest with young in it.

A good place to spot them is over the reedbeds on Adventurers' Fen,

Kingfisher

Kingfisher
Kingfisher perched on a reedhead
Kingfisher

Listen out for the kingfisher's high pitched call and quick flash of blue as they fly down the waterways.

If you're lucky you can spot them sitting on a low perch before plunge-diving to capture an unsuspecting fish (or newt). A kingfishers brood can devour up to 100 fish a day.

Kingfishers can often be seen around the Brick Pits from the Roger Clark hide, or flying along Wicken & Monk's Lodes

Emperor Dragonfly

Emperor Dragonfly
Emperor Dragonfly in flight
Emperor Dragonfly

The Emperor is a large powerful dragonfly frequently patrolling & taking only very brief rest periods.

The male has greenish blue eyes, apple green thorax and metallic blue abdomen, whilst the female is slightly smaller & usually appears more green. Its power & agility in flight is un-rivalled by other dragonflies in Britain. Adults will catch large flying insects & even other dragonflies in flight.

Butterflies

Red Admiral butterfly
Close up of Red Admiral butterfly on a twig
Red Admiral butterfly

Head off to the Butterfly Trail to see colourful species such as the Red Admiral or bright Orange Skippers. You maybe lucky and spot a visiting European migrant, such as the Painted Lady or Clouded Yellow.

Grass Snake

Grass Snake swimming in the Lode
Close up shot of Grass Snake swimming
Grass Snake swimming in the Lode

The non venomous Grass Snake can often be seen basking on warm heaps of vegetation or swimming along the Lodes & ditches.

Growing up to two metres long, they have an olive green body and distinctive yelloe & black collar behind the head.

Autumn passage birds

Greenshank
Greenshank in water
Greenshank

In late summer Adventurers' Fen is a good place to spot waders such as Greenshank, or Golden Plover, who are taking a rest on their migration home after spending the summer breeding in the Artic Circle.

Greater Bladderwort

Greater Bladderwort
Close up image of Greater Bladderwort in ditch
Greater Bladderwort

Look out for little yellow flowers of the floating Greater Bladderwort in ditches, the only carnivorous plant found on the Fen.

The plant has a series of hollow bladders which are closed by a valve, when an insect touches the bristles on a valve, a sudden inflow of air sucks the prey inside to be digested. Each plant can eat up to  a quarter of a million insects annually.