Willow Tree Fen Nature Reserve officially opened to the public over the Easter 2011 weekend with four well attended guided walks.

Visitors were treated to good views of buzzard, lapwing and yellow wagtail, with sedge and reed warbler singing from the reed fringes of the waterways. The first dragonflies emerged on cue with large red damselfly on the 18th April and common blue damselfly spotted on Easter Saturday.

The wetting of the site over the winter months attracted good numbers of waders with 1200 lapwing, over 1000 golden plover, oystercatcher, redshank, ruff, black-tailed godwit, green sandpiper, snipe, woodcock, both ringed and little-ringed plover and greenshank.

Wigeon moved onto the fields as the grass sown last autumn began to grow and they were joined by good numbers of teal with shelduck, shoveler, gadwall and mallard making use of the new water bodies. A single male garganey was a welcome addition in April too.

Raptors continue to be in good numbers with up to four buzzard over the site at any one time, the resident kestrels and sparrowhawk being somewhat upstaged by marsh harrier, red kite, and peregrine.

The wetland creation not only enhanced the site for birds but provided an unexpected wildlife spectacle, with large numbers of pike moving from the borrow pits and out onto the flooded fields that only last year had wheat growing on them.

At the time of writing (May 9th), today's highlight is the pinnacle of success so far: breeding lapwing.

Several visible lapwing nest sites have been monitored over the last couple of weeks but today was the first sign of movement with two precocious Willow Tree Fen lapwing chicks making their first foray out into the open. Simply Brilliant!

The 3-year project to develop Willow Tree Fen now moves into its third year, with the site open to the public and a good number of milestones complete.

The next months will see cattle introduced to the site, a significant amount of fencing being erected and work on the classroom and interpretation centre starting, following the successful planning application.

Site access remains a priority task with boardwalks, viewing points and hides to complete and associated interpretation signs and materials to be designed and provided.

If you have not yet visited the site, it's definitely time to add Willow Tree Fen to your list of Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust Reserves to visit.

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