June has to be one of my favourite times of year, the evenings are longer and warmer, there are wonderful sunsets, and it’s a great time to sleep out under the stars; going to sleep with owls and waking up to the sounds of the dawn chorus.
I’m not particularly a morning person (unless I’ve had the moth trap out), but I always think the British dawn chorus is like a cheerful celebration of waking up in the morning. Each morning our resident and migrant songsters proclaim their territories, attract mates and reaffirm pair bonds by singing at the tops of their voices. I also can’t help but think that it’s a little bit like the birds are saying “woohoo, I’m alive; I’ve made it through the night.”
Here at Lakenheath Fen, the reedbeds are currently full of reed and sedge warblers and the poplar woods resound with the songs of blackcaps, garden warblers and whitethroats. Our resident birds are not to be outdone by these visitors however, with the far-sounding boom of bitterns from deep within the reed beds, blackbirds and song thrushes sing from high in the trees and of course the wren, whose whole little body shakes with the effort of his powerful voice.
At the other end of the day, dusk is the best time to see some of our more secretive wildlife, such as otters, badgers, bats, and did I mention moths. It is a particularly peaceful time of day and as there are fewer humans around to cause disturbance, some species come out a bit earlier, especially if they have hungry mouths to feed. Barn owls are often seen out in the early evening at this time of year and hobbys often have a late evening feed before heading off to roost.
Hopefully, reading this is has inspired you to perhaps come for an early morning or late evening stroll around the reserve, or just soak up the atmosphere of a reedbed at dawn or dusk. But perhaps you aren’t keen on getting home too late or getting up really, really early. If that is the case, we have a solution to help you immerse yourself in the delights of the British countryside at night time. Be part of the RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout, a national event to encourage us all to spend a night in nature’s home, whether it’s in your own back garden, your local park or at an RSPB reserve. We are running our own Big Wild Sleepout event at Lakenheath Fen on June 20 and 21. There will be various activities on offer, including a dusk and dawn walk, (and a bit of moth trapping), as well as some additional wildlife activities during the day. For more details about the event and how to book, log on to the RSPB’s website www.rspb.org.uk/thingstodo/sleepout. So, dust off your tent and come and find out what goes bump (or flutter) in the night. Just don’t forget your marshmallows.