RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes: enjoy an abundance of wildlife at this huge wetland reserve

PUBLISHED: 17:12 01 August 2016 | UPDATED: 12:14 02 August 2016

A short-eared owl in flight over a field of long grass at RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes, Cambridgeshire
Picture: Paul Brackley

A short-eared owl in flight over a field of long grass at RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes, Cambridgeshire Picture: Paul Brackley

Paul Brackley

This lovely reserve is a wonderful place to walk and enjoy nature.

Factfile

Address: Fen Drayton Lakes, Fen Drayton Road, between Fen Drayton and Swavesey

Opening hours: Open at all times

Entry prices: Free, donations appreciated

Parking: Free car park

Public transport: Guided busway request stop within reserve

Toilets: Portable toilet in car park

Refreshments: None

Hides: One, plus viewing shelters

Accessibility: Partly accessible by wheelchair, pushchair and bicycle

Dogs: Allowed on public footpaths and bridleways only

Website: http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/seenature/reserves/guide/f/fendraytonlakes/

The massive site was once a gravel workings. It’s now a complex of lakes and riverside meadows beside the River Great Ouse and the guided busway track, with associated cycle path, runs through the site and stops in the middle of it.

It is home to a wide array of species, with hobbies, terns, kingfishers and an array of dragonflies in summer and large numbers of ducks, swans and geese on the lakes in the winter.

A starling murmuration begins at RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes, CambridgeshireA starling murmuration begins at RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes, Cambridgeshire

Starling murmurations are also common here in winter - and can often be seen against the setting sun: a beautiful spectacle that makes this site worth a visit in itself.

Winter also brings short-eared owls, which have typically favoured one of the fields on the approach road, often giving terrific daytime views.

The bushes are alive with crickets at RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes, CambridgeshireThe bushes are alive with crickets at RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes, Cambridgeshire

Occasional rarities turn up here too. In 2016, for the first time in about eight years, marsh harriers successfully bred on the reserve.

If you are fortunate, bitterns can also be seen. More commonly, its a very good place to spot little flocks of bullfinches.

Sunset over the reeds at RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes, Cambridgeshire
Picture: Paul BrackleySunset over the reeds at RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes, Cambridgeshire Picture: Paul Brackley

There is one hide overlooking a huge lake and several viewing screens, with one offering disabled access.

A new shelter has been built next to the car park, with a picnic area, and it’s a lovely spot to watch the sun go down.

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