There's one great thing about the nights drawing in... it's easier to get up with the sun and see the first light over the marshes! The first frosty mornings of the year have been beautiful and have also yielded some brilliant wildlife. Common Crane, Great White Egret, Stonechat, Otter and flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings are worth getting up for. One of the best places to see Redwing and Fieldfare is past Sprat's Water along the poplar path, where they can often be seen in large numbers in the tall poplar trees. If you head to Carlton, Oulton or Castle at the moment you are sure to see a pair of Stonechat. Head out along the main track or river wall and listen out the sound of flint knocking together, that's the sound of a Stonechat!
Common Crane are one of the target breeding species at the new and improved Carlton Marshes nature reserve. This aspiration feels a little bit closer this week as 2 Common Cranes have been seen roosting regularly on Peto's Marsh. Searching Twitter I found that there have been at least 15 separate sightings of Common Crane in the last 5 years at Carlton Marshes. These sightings are largely flyovers, with groups of as many as 7 cranes seen in the skies over Carlton. It's extremely exciting that they have now decide to touch down on the new habitat creation, especially as it has been designed specifically for them. In 2017 Matt and I visited Lakenheath Fen to have a look the habitats where cranes have been successfully nesting there. With the help of ex-Lakenheath Fen Site Manager, Norman Sills, Matt designed features into the reedbed which will hopefully make it suitable for breeding crane in the future. Finger-crossed this pair stick around!