One wintry weekend we decided to visit the Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve in East Anglia. It’s one of Britain’s oldest nature reserves and it has been owned by the National Trust since 1899. My husband is a keen ornithologist, so equipped with binoculars and hiking boots we drove to the Cambridgeshire Fens.
As we approached the Nature Reserve storm clouds threatened and it began to rain heavily. We waited in the car awhile hoping that the weather would clear but there was no respite so we braved the elements as we had travelled so far. Entrance is through the visitor centre where we found a blackboard listing recent wildlife sightings providing us with encouragement to continue.
After spending a few minutes chatting to the Park Ranger and browsing some of the books for sale in the shop, we put our hoods up and ventured out onto the reserve. The Fens are low lying and can be very boggy so we were pleased to find a recently constructed boardwalk to the bird hide. Already inside were a couple of people who were equipped with spotting scopes, who informed us that they hadn’t seen any action in the previous hour and sadly we didn’t spot any wildlife either. I think all the birds were sheltering in the reed beds trying to keep their feathers dry!
Not to be deterred, we then followed the nature trail, taking us through two miles of the reserve along a very muddy track. On our way, we only spotted a few ducks and one solitary robin so it wasn’t a very successful trek. However, we did see a couple of windmills, one of which is still in use on the reserve to pump in water when the land becomes too dry – clearly not required at present!
It was disappointing not being able to see any birds but we did get some exercise during our visit and afterwards we warmed up with mugs of tea in the small cafe next to the visitor centre. If you might like to explore Wicken Fen it is located six miles from Ely in Cambridgeshire. It’s home to 9,000 species so hopefully you will spot more than a duck and a robin if you decide to visit.
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