Summer wildlife to look out for
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.
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,
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.