RSPB Fowlmere is a small nature reserve with reedbeds and pools, forming a refreshing natural oasis in the agricultural landscape of south Cambridgeshire. Formed of once extensive watercress beds, the site is now a haven for wetland and woodland wildlife.
The River Shep, a natural chalk stream runs through the reserve and brown trout can often be spotted in the clear waters, while water voles, and very occasionally, otters are seen. The increasingly scarce turtle dove is a summer visitor and Fowlmere is one of the most reliable locations in Cambridgeshire to hear the soft purring of its call.
Barn owls breed here in special nest boxes and can often be seen roosting outside their box near the reedbed hide, at times even during the daytime.
A trail which has boardwalks in several area loops through the reserve, giving access to the three hides, including the raised reedbed hide, which gives excellent views over the mere and reedbeds. Water rails, kingfishers and various ducks use the mere, while hobbyies and marsh harriers can be seen in the summer. Wading birds such as lapwing, redshank, common and green sandpipers and sometimes scarcer birds such as wood sandpiper, jack snipe and common snipe pop in to feed and rest on the mere’s muddy, reedy margins.
Fowlmere is also a great place to spot dragonflies, with up to seventeen species seen here, while grass snakes are sometimes seen in the pools or beside the trails.
In autumn and winter, large flocks of thrushes from Scandinavia arrive and forage on the berry bushes. Merlins, our smallest bird of prey can sometimes spend time on the reserve in winter, and zoom over the fen or adjacent fields in search of prey at this time of year. Reserve warden Beth Aucott manages a team of dedicated volunteers, managing the habitat, clearing trails and scrub and keeping the site in top shape for both nature and people.
If you haven’t visited before, come along and explore and discover this wonderful RSPB reserve soon!
Fowlmere reserve is open every day of the week and friendly and informative volunteers are on duty in the reception hut most weekends. A new hut, funded from a collection by his wife in memory of the late Dr Paul Walsh, is installed and will soon replace the old hut that has been on site since over twenty years ago (and it was second hand then!)