Field Trip to Kingfishers Bridge

The sun shines on the righteous! Thursday 11 April and our first Spring walk of 2024 couldn’t have been much better: a mostly sunny day with temperatures reaching just above 20C.

22 members and guests made their way to the wonderful Fenland habitat of Kingfishers Bridge Nature Reserve near Ely. It was pleasing to see that most of our group took the opportunity to share transport for this approximately 80-90 mile round trip.

Kingfishers Bridge is a privately managed reserve, originally conceived by owner Andrew Green in 1995. It has transformed over 250 acres of arable farmland into a mosaic of wildlife habitats comprising reedbeds, fen mere, ditches, ponds, islands, meadows, scrapes and cliffs. The reserve is now home to more than 210 different bird species, over 500 species of plants and increasingly rich fauna of recorded butterflies, moths and many other invertebrates.

Sedge Warbler, Kingfishers Bridge (Image: Tony Gammage)

Our group set off from the Visitor Centre following a tree-lined nature trail which generally leads around the edge of the reserve. There were numerous viewing areas overlooking wildflower meadow, lime grassland and a large lake. Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Blackbirds, Robins, Blue Tits, Great Tits and Dunnocks were in full song everywhere. Many of us also had brief sightings of Sedge Warbler and Common Whitethroat singing from the bramble bushes. We were treated to superb views of three Marsh Harriers constantly flying over the reedbeds and numerous sighting of Common Buzzard along our route.

Water Buffalo and Konik ponies used for conservation grazing (Image: Jane Havercroft)

Water Buffalo and Konik Ponies were both present on the meadows, helping to create perfect habitats for waders such as Lapwing, Oystercatcher and Snipe, all of which were seen during our walk. The lake was teaming with gulls – predominantly Black-headed and also a few Herring and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls. Duck species included Shoveler, Pochard, Gadwall and Tufted, 3 species of geese – Canada, Greylag and Egyptian, also Shelduck, Little Grebe and Great-crested Grebe.

A pair of Avocets were spotted in the meadow pools on the edge of the lake, providing most of us with our first sighting of the year for this beautiful wader.

Our walk continued to a raised viewing mound, providing a wonderful panoramic view of the lake and much of the reserve. The magnificent Ely Cathedral could be seen in the distance. From here it was a short walk back to the Visitor Centre and Cafe where many of us enjoyed the Panini’s, cream teas and milkshakes sitting on the picnic benches in the glorious spring sunshine.

Towards the end of our walk, we received news that a Little Gull had recently been observed from the viewing mound, flying around the lake. A few of us made our way back for great views of this scarce species.

In total 58 bird species were recorded – 54 seen and 4 heard. Other species recorded were Brown Hare, Muntjac Deer, Grass Snake and 5 species of butterfly.

Thanks to Martin Johnson for guiding our group around this great reserve, and also to the lovely team at Kingfishers Bridge for making it such an enjoyable experience.

Photos (unless otherwise credited) and report: Tony Gammage