Habitats and species

Linked to the last remnants of wild fen at Baston Fen and Thurlby Fen nature reserves by the River Glen and the wildlife rich Counter Drain, fenland species have now colonised Willow Tree Fen.

Despite being a drained arable farm prior to 2009, the fenland reserve has developed fast. The natural depressions in the fields hold water during the winter and attract large numbers of waterfowl such as wigeon, teal, mallard, and waders including lapwing, redshank and snipe.

What to look out for in each season:

Spring
• Early butterflies like brimstone, peacock
• Large flocks of duck in early spring on the main waterbodies
• Brown hares boxing in the fields
• Listen for corn bunting and turtle dove

Summer
• Swallows and swifts
• Skylark singing overhead
• Breeding lapwing
• Reedy margins along the edges of the dykes and ponds are home to reed and sedge warblers, reed bunting and even the occasional bearded tit
• Marsh harrier
• Occasional kingfisher in the long ponds by the hides

Autumn
• Dragonflies like the migrant hawker and emperor are impressive on a warm early Autumn day
• Arrival of wintering migrants redwing and fieldfare

Winter
• Flocks of wildfowl including wigeon and teal
• Flocks of waders including lapwing and golden plover, plus oystercatcher, redshank, ruff, black-tailed godwit, green sandpiper, snipe, woodcock, both ringed and little-ringed plover and greenshank
• Listen for the ‘squealing pig’ sound of the water rail hiding in the reeds.

All year 
Resident kestrel and sparrowhawk plus buzzard and red kite
Four species of owl: barn, tawny, little and short-eared
Little egret