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Wildlife introduction

Rare species
New species
Extinct species

Species information:
Monthly reports
Marsh Harrier
Migration dates
Ringing 2005
Ringing 2006
Ringing 2007
Ringing 2008
Ringing 2009
Ringing 2010
Ringing 2011
Ringing 2012

Rare Species at Wicken

Wicken Fen has a prodigious list of rare species. It was a main reason for the designation of the Fen as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. There are many rare plants including Great Fen Sedge, Fen Violet, Milk Parsley, Marsh Pea, Dwarf Stonewort and Tubular Water-dropwort. Rare or declining birds that live at Wicken include Marsh Harrier, Bearded Tit, Barn Owl, Reed Bunting and Cuckoo. In winter, Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl take up residence. Perhaps even more impressive is that there are over 400 insect species at Wicken that are listed as nationally endangered, rare or scarce in the UK Red Data Books.

Rare species are often at risk of extinction from a site because their populations can be small and vulnerable. This is potentially true for some of the rare species at Wicken Fen. Several species are suspected to be extinct as they have not been seen for many years. However, we are always hopeful that some of the rare species are still present and will be rediscovered. A number of experts have visited the Fen in recent years and re-discovered species not seen since the 1920s, such as the Red Data Book listed leaf beetle Longitarsus ferrugineus, the rove beetle Quedius balticus, the crawling water beetle Haliplus mucronatus and the fungus beetle Telmatophilus schoenherri. Of the larger animals, the return of the Otter and the Water Vole, and flocks of Tree Sparrow, to Wicken Fen in the last few years is especially pleasing.

The risk of species extinction is greater in small nature reserves and ones that are isolated and some distance from reserves of similar habitat types. This was certainly the case for Wicken Fen, one of the last four surviving remnants of the once extensive fenlands of Cambridgeshire. One of the main reasons The National Trust developed the Wicken Fen Vision project was to expand the size of the nature reserve by creating more wetland habitats. In addition to creating new habitats for wildlife, it is hoped that in time this project will allow rare species to expand their populations and so become less at risk of extinction. Already some of the Fen's rare water beetles have been discovered in the restored ditches of the Vision land, such as Hydrochus elongatus, Berosus luridus and Gyrinus paykulli. In addition, all of the dragonfly species of the old fen have been seen around the ditches and ponds of the Vision area.

Table of some of the rare species recorded at Wicken Fen

(UK BAP indicates priority species for conservation in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan; Birds of Conservation Concern are Red or Amber-listed depending on the threat and decline; RDB indicates species listed in the UK Red Data Book due to their rarity)



Marsh Harrier

Amber-listed. Several pairs breed.


Red-listed. Regularly winters at Wicken.

Hen Harrier

Red-listed. Regularly winters at Wicken.


Red-listed. UK BAP. Many pairs nest on the restored land

Tree Sparrow

Red-listed. UK BAP. Returned to Wicken in 2006


Red-listed. UK BAP. Nests at Wicken.

Reed Bunting

Red-listed. UK BAP. Nests at Wicken.


Amber-listed. Large number in winter

Water Rail

Amber-listed. Nests at Wicken


Amber-listed. Nests on the restored land


Amber-listed. Nests at Wicken

Barn Owl

Amber-listed. Nests at Wicken


Red-listed. UK BAP. Nests at Wicken.




UK BAP. Regular visitor to Wicken

Water Vole

UK BAP. Returned in 2006 after 15 year absence.

Brown Hare

UK BAP. Doing well on the restored land

Fish and Amphibians


Spined Loach

UK BAP. A rare fish found in the ditches & Lodes

Great Crested Newt

UK BAP. Doing well in the education area ponds



Great Fen Sedge

Cladium mariscus

Fen Violet

Viola persicifolia. Endangered species in the UK.

Milk Parsley

Peucedanum palustre

Marsh Pea

Lathyrus palustris

Tubular Water-dropwort

Oenanthe fistulosa

Dwarf Stonewort

Nitella tenuissima. Endangered species in the UK.



Desmoulinís Whorl Snail Vertigo moulinsiana

UK BAP, RDB. Tiny snail found in the fen vegetation.

Depressed River Mussel Pseudanodonta complanata

UK BAP, RDB. Lives happily in the Lodes.

Large-mouthed Valve Snail Valvata macrostoma

RDB Vulnerable. Found in several of the brickpit ponds at Wicken.

Scarce Chaser Libellula fulva

RDB. A Dragonfly, increasing in the area

Spider Neon valentulus

RDB. Wicken is the only site with recent records

Spider Zora armillata

RDB. Wicken is the only site with recent records

Caddisfly Erotesis baltica

RDB Vulnerable. Caddisfly found in clean dykes

Twin-spot Longhorn Beetle Oberea oculata

RDB Endangered, UK BAP. Associated with purple willow trees. Last seen 1984 at Wicken but still occurs nearby.

Water Beetle Agabus undulatus

RDB. Found in the ditches & ponds on the old fen

Ground Beetle Trechus rivularis

RDB. Found in sedge and reed litter

Longhorn Beetle Lamia textor

RDB beetle whose larvae live in willows

Water Beetle Dryops anglicanus

RDB. A rare beetle found by ditches, widespread at Wicken.

Riffle Beetles Oulimnius major and Oulimnius rivialis

RDB. Both of these rare beetles are to be found in the slow flowing ditches with clean water at Wicken.

Water Beetle Hydrochus ignicollis, Hydrochus crenatus and Hydrochus elongatus

RDB. These 3 rare beetles are quite often found at Wicken.

Buttoned Snout Hypena rostralis

UK BAP moth occasionally seen at Wicken

Marsh Carpet Perizoma sagittata

RDB Moth with a strong population at Wicken

Silver Barred Deltote bankiana

RDB Moth with a strong population at Wicken

Totrix Moth Cydia leguminana

RDB Micro-moth, several Wicken records.


© National Trust
Wicken Fen, Lode Lane, Wicken, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 5XP, UK
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