It was now our third visit to Lackford Lakes, this time in late summer. Lackford Lakes is situated between Thetford and Bury St Edmund’s. In total it covers 161 hectares of lakes, reeds, meadow and woodland. Managed by Suffolk Wildlife Trust the reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It’s free to visit and open all year, between dawn and dusk. The site has a fully accessible visitor centre plus a cafe with refreshments and toilets. In summer the visitors centre is open from 10am to 5pm. The reserve also has eight large bird hides dotted around the Lakes.
We had previously visited twice in early spring. Then we were hoping to see and photograph Kingfishers as they prepared to start this years breeding cycle. On these visits we obtained some excellent images of the Kingfishers feeding.
The reserve now looked very different with reed beds and pools alive with damselflies and dragonflies mating and egg laying. Reports suggested that a number of Kingfishers were still around. Also two Ospreys had been present and feeding for about four days early in the morning. Over the lakes Swallows and Martins were busily feeding up in preparation for their travels to the wintering grounds. Along with the Swallows many of the reserves summer visitors were still evident.
We arrived at about 9.30 just as the visitor center was opening. After checking out the latest sightings we started out heading towards Bernard’s Hide. Now a short stay hide due to its popularity among photographers, some of whom have unfortunately recently caused a number of issues at the hide.
All of the hides that look out towards the Slough and the Shallows are best visited in the morning as the light for photography is favourable at that time. The hide wasn’t too full, and we hoped to see if the Kingfishers where still around. We were not disappointed as there was one of the females sitting on a nearby branch as we entered. After disappearing for a few minutes she returned and almost immediately caught a fish. Then we observed behaviour that we have never seen before in Kingfishers. We saw it regurgitating a pellet.
Sequence of shots showing the Kingfisher in the process of regurgitating a pellet
When nest building kingsfisher use this behaviour to line the bottom of the nest hole with fish bones, so it was unusual to see this taking place right in front of us.
After taking some shots of both the Kingfisher, Dragonflies and a Chiffchaff we headed back to the visitor centers for a quick bite to eat. Then we set off again to check out the wooded area of the reserve and the other lakes where the Osprey had been seen earlier.
Despite a cool wind keeping the temperatures lower than in recent weeks the sun had brought out a large numbers of butterflies feeding on the blackberry bushes. Many of them looking as if they had only recently emerged. This all added to the Autumnal feel of the day. Although the ospreys had disappeared from the lakes at the far end of the reserves at Bess’s hide a Little Grebe put in an appearance just in front of us.
After getting some close shots of the Grebe we returned to Bernard’s Hide. We hoped to check out the kingfisher and look at an area were some lizards had been seen basking. On the way back one of the Ospreys appeared just above our heads hunting over the lake. At the hide the kingfishers put in a fleeting appearance. Some were again flying but not settling but we were able to watch a group of Spotted Flycatchers doing what they do best . They were flying out from the branches of a dead tree and catching insects . As we set off back to the visitors centre for a coffee the Osprey which we’d seen earlier was again hunting, but now being harassed and finally chased off by number of Corvids.
It was a great day and a place that’s definitely worth a visit at any time of year – here’s the link – https://www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/lackfordlakes