Visit to Cavenham Heath

Visit to Cavenham Heath Friday 26th August 2008

On Friday 26 August 2009 the Society visited the National Nature Reserve at Cavenham, near Mildenhall, on the south side of the River Lark. It is a lowland heath, much of the site being a typical Breck heathland, with a dry acidic soil supporting heather and bracken and with patches of sand sedge. The river is responsible for a number of damper habitats on the site, making this one of the more diverse examples of Breck heath.

We were conducted around the reserve by the warden, Mike Taylor, who revealed its interesting history and described the management of the site for the various important wildlife habitats. He pointed out experimental plots, where different cutting regimes are being tried in an effort to maintain the heathland sward and eradicate intrusive vegetation such as bracken.

We were blessed with a fine sunny evening and had a circular walk with good sightings of over 30 stone curlews, gathering before setting off on their migration to Africa. They were close enough for everyone to have superb views, especially through the telescopes, and their haunting cries filled the still air. These birds are increasing their numbers in the Brecks, which is now home to over 200 breeding pairs, many of which now nest on farmland owing to the reduction of their heathland habitat over the last few decades. Cavenham represents an excellent opportunity to see these enigmatic birds in their traditional Breckland setting.