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RSPB Lakenheath Fen, Suffolk

By Paul Brackley

Perching common European cuckoo against a green background. Picture by stillwords.
Perching common European cuckoo against a green background. Picture by stillwords.

A large wetland reserve with reedbeds, grazing marshes and poplar woods.

RSPB Lakenheath Fen, Suffolk

Address: Station Rd, Thetford IP27 9AD

Opening hours: Open all year. Visitor centre open 9am-5pm except Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Entry prices: Free to members; £4 per car for non-members

Parking: Yes

Public transport: Lakenheath railway station is within walking distance, but service is very limited

Toilets: Yes, open 9am-5pm except Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Refreshments: Yes, self-service drinks and snacks available in visitor centre

Hides: One, plus three viewpoints

Accessibility: Variety of trails, including some level, hard stone paths suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs

Dogs: No dogs, except registered assistance dogs

It used to be carrot fields, but now it’s one of the best places in the country to watch bitterns, marsh harriers and hobbies.

The RSPB converted this arable farmland into a large wetland reserve, which features reedbeds, grazing marshes and some remnant poplar woods.

Hundreds of pairs of reed warblers and sedge warblers, as well as bearded tits, use the reedbeds, and the incredible boom of male bitterns can be heard each spring. Although secretive, bitterns can often be seen in flight around the reserve, or sometimes skulking on the edges of reeds.

Whitethroats, garden warblers, blackcaps and woodpeckers breed in the woods, while barn owls and kingfishers are regularly seen, particularly in winter. Cuckoos love the site for its caterpillars, and hobbies can be seen in impressive numbers hunting for dragonflies and damselflies. Marsh harriers can be seen every day on the reserve - particularly from its furthest viewpoint, Joist Fen.

A friendly visitor centre offers information about the reserve and its history, along with children’s activities and some refreshments.

There is plenty of car parking, a picnic area, a variety of trails, three viewpoints and a hide overlooking a mere. Guided walks and children’s activities are regularly held.

For more information visit the RSPB Lakenheath Fen website.


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