Wildlife at Wicken Fen

Wicken Fen was the first nature reserve owned by the National Trust. Today it is home to over 9000 recorded species.

Recorded Species

For over 100 years some of the most eminent naturalists and scientists including Sir Harry Godwin & Arthur Tansley have studied the habitats and species found at Wicken Fen. 

Details of all species recorded at Wicken Fen can be found on the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.

You can also find out more about the latest species and current research at Wicken Fen by reading the Wicken Fen Research & Recording Newsletter - June 2017 (PDF / 1.6MB) download

Seasonal Highlights


  • Bitterns booming deep in the reedbeds, drumming snipe & woodcock roding
  • Arrival of summer migrants, swallows, sand  martins, swifts, warblers and cuckoos
  • The dawn chorus which reaches its peak in early May
  • Hobbies taking mayfly on the wing along the Lodes


  • Marsh harriers can be seen feeding over much of the fen
  • Dragonflies, emperor, broad-bodied chaser, common darter, banded demoiselle hawking up and down the waterways
  • Wildflowers including orchids, yellow rattle, meadow rue. devils-bit scabious
  • Butterflies including meadow brown, small & essex skipper


  • Large congregations of swallows and martins gathering prior to their migration south
  • Winter wildfowl, particularly wigeon arriving from the their northern breeding grounds
  • Winter thrushes, redwing and fieldfares feasting on the plentiful supply of juicy berries around the reserve
  • Hen harriers returning from their summer breeding grounds in Northern Britain 
  • Mumurations of starlings over the reedbeeds towards dusk


  • Large flocks of wigeon, teal and shoveler on the wet grasslands and mere
  • Hen & marsh harriers coming into roost of Sedge Fen at dusk
  • Barn, short-eared, little & tawny owls can be seen or heard around the reserve
  • Bewick & whooper swans, pink footed & white fronted geese
  • Flocks of waxwings in periods of really cold weather
  • Bitterns around the open water margins in periods of cold icy weather


There are nine wildlife hides across the reserve. 

The two hides on the Boardwalk Trail, Baker's hide overlooking Baker's Fen and the hide on Tubney Fen are equipped for wheelchair users.


Check the sightings book in the Visitor Centre to catch up on the latest wildlife sightings reported by our visitors and rangers.

Don't forget to record your own sightings in the book.