Until 1995, when purchased by the RSPB, the land now forming the reserve was heavily farmed arable land. Since then, the 740-acre (3.0 km2) site has been turned back into the reed beds and grazing marshes that would once have been common in the area. To achieve this, over 2 km of ditches were re-shaped with shallow sloping sides so as to encourage reed growth and to provide feeding areas, particularly suited to great bitterns. A number of sluices were installed to enable water levels to be controlled. In addition to the existing ditches, over 4 km of water channels were dug to re-circulate water around the site.
Despite being created recently, Lakenheath Fen is a haven for wildlife, and the number of birds seen at the reserve has increased significantly. The number of Eurasian reed warblers rose from four pairs in 1995 to 355 pairs in 2002. Reed buntings have increased from 6 to 87 pairs during the same period. Two pairs of western marsh harriers nested for the first time in newly created reed in 2002. Great crested grebes and little grebes are breeding on the meres, and water rails have nested in the new reeds. Bearded tits have stayed on the reserve throughout the winter, as have bitterns. Common cranes have been found to be breeding at the fen for what is believed to be the first time in 400 years. The reserve is also notable for its breeding golden orioles.
|RSPB Lakenheath Fen|
Looking across the River Little Ouse
|Public transit access||Lakenheath railway station|