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 explore. 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 the young in the nest.
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 above the waterways.
If you're lucky you can spot them sitting on a low perch before plunging into the water to capture an unsuspecting fish (or newt). A kingfisher's brood can devour up to a hundred fish a day.
Kingfishers can often be seen around the Brick Pits from the Roger Clarke hide, or flying along Wicken and Monk's Lodes.
The Emperor is a large, powerful dragonfly frequently patrolling and 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 and usually appears more green in colour. Its power and agility in flight is unrivalled by other dragonflies in Britain. Adults will catch large flying insects and even other dragonflies in flight.
Head off to the Woodland Walk to see colourful species such as the Red Admiral or bright orange Skippers. You may be 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 and ditches.
Growing up to two metres long, they have an olive green body and distinctive yellow and 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 at Wicken Fen.
The plant has a series of hollow bladders which are closed by a valve, and 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.