I don't really rate Twitter as I feel that despite the addition of pictures that it's still half a story with it's limited characters. I have stuck with it and decided to make it a read only experience and pretty much just follow those that aren't on Facebook. Lackford Lakes came up as a suggestion to follow and as it's only about an hour or so away I followed and then followed up the follow with a family visit.
We decided to whet the whistle with a drink and a bite to eat...The light refreshments bit is a modest array of food and drink and whilst you are rocking up for the SSSI experience rather than the café culture they could probably extend the range easily without too much problem (coke for the kids and flapjacks for taking out on a walk as a snack and so on). Have to say that their coffee sponge was brilliant however, but I digress. There are tables downstairs but we went to the upstairs which has a burger bar like row of tall chairs with a ledge, the above pictures are the views from the upstairs.
We watched a female pheasant fly in to the feeding table which it seemed familar with, only for bossy female mallard to start a bit of a bitchy standoff!
In the first hide we noticed that the hide was used by many damsel flies to morph from larvae to insect and I found a recently hatched damsel having spider web issues. I gently gathered it up and used a Swiss army knife tooth pick to gently tease some web off it.
The highlight of the visit was a fortuitous sighting of a male kingfisher (a female has red 'lipstick' on the underside of her beak) in a tiny little hide...
He made several catches including a brown morsel that looked like a prawn (a very young crayfish?). It was around 20 to 25 feet away but I've had to crop the pictures a little. This was a defining moment because I said to my wife that when the greater part of our mortgage comes to fruition in Spring I'm getting a DSLR with a half decent lens!
Talking of crayfish...We saw several signal monsters further round the reserve in a small stream. If you look closely you can just make out that the big brute has a smaller crayfish in it's upper claw...
It moved slowly backwards into the weeds and you can see the top claw still gripping it and the lower claw open and ready to be used.
On the website for Lackford Lakes it lists bird sightings to date for the year (over 120). From this we saw around 30 species and I have some ID work on the plant front having snapped rather a lot.
There was also plenty of insects to keep you occupied too, this chap above is a wasp beetle and only the second one I've ever seen.
I'm not hot on fungi ID but could this be chicken of the woods? I couldn't get any closer and this was taken balanced on a log over a mall stream!
And to the final hide on the walk. We get Egyptian geese where I live but this place had lots of them in several different locations with fifteen just by the hide alone. I also took a snap of a nature reclaimed pillbox (with some greylag geese I the foreground) which reminds me of my Lincolnshire childhood as they are everywhere along the East coast.
My family left me to finish off in the hide and I got chatting to a chap who'd just come from a site in nearby Lakenheath watching a little bittern. Once I left I had to text my wife that I was running late as I got held up by a Canadian goose who really wasn't happy to let me past. The fact that when she finally led her goslings down a 'nature highway' to the lake they couldn't move quickly and I could have easily picked one up/ off is neither here nor there.
Lackford is blessed with a healthy otter population and despite my best efforts I couldn't find any sign. in the Summer/ Autumn of 2016 I am blessed with a long service award of six months off next year and can see myself heading up at the crack of dawn to try and see them. We also discovered West Stow Anglo Saxon village and country park next door so it's a given that we will return to the area before too long.