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TM530933 - A small freshwater lake sandwiched between Normanston Park and Lake Lothing. The car park in Normanston Park is adjacent to the Ham itself The Lowestoft to Oulton Broad foot/cyclepath runs through the car park and skirts along Lake Lothing nearby.
As well as the ubiquitous Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula also breed here. Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus is regular here. Several duck species occur in very small number on passage including Garganey Anas querquedula, Shoveler A. clypeata, Gadwall A. strepera and Pintail A. acuta. Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris rather surprisingly bred here in 1934 when there was an even less extensive reedbed than in recent years. Migrants have included Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis , Bearded Tits Panurus biarmicus and Cetti's Warblers Cettia cetti.
From early in 2001 the site has been heavily flooded, with all paths underwater. This has at times resulted in good opportunities to watch Water Rails Rallus aquaticus. At that time they have been seen feeding along the edge of the car park, particularly in freezing conditions. It has also resulted in a much increased wildfowl population, with Shovelers being particularly fond of it. A drake Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina wintered here in 2003/4 along with good number of Wigeon A. penelope and Gadwall.
Little Grebes Tachybaptus rufficollis have also increased, and even Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus has attempted to breed. Whilst public access has been restricted by the flooding, and viewing from the car park is obstructed by trees in many places, the sites' value to wildlife has increased markedly at the same time.
A small, but uncertain, number of discarded pet Red-eared Terrapins Pseudemys scripta live here quite happily. They can sometimes be spotted soaking up the sun on submerged trunks and branches, particularly in the area below the tennis courts.
Leathes Ham is located just to the north of Lake Lothing, and once formed a part of it before being cut off by the construction of the Reedham to Lowestoft railway line.
Most of the views below were taken prior to the recent flooding.
Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula have begun to breed here in recent years.
Red-eared Terrapins Pseudemys scripta.
An unobtrusive alien that has made itself at home here.
Up to 19 Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo have been recorded roosting in trees on the central island in the summer months. During the winter they tend to leave at dusk to roost elsewhere. Probably at Fritton Lake.
In recent winters Shags P aristotelis have also taken to roosting here instead of the more traditional site on the Kittiwake Wall at the harbour mouth. Obviously no one has told them they are not supposed to roost either in trees or on freshwater lakes!
In the centre of the picture above can be seen the large construction sheds of the former Brooke Marine Shipyard located on the south shore of Lake Lothing.
The roofs of these sheds now provide a home to an extremely fast growing mixed colony of Herring Larus argentatus and Lesser Black-backed Gulls L. fuscus.
The view looking eastwards across Leathes Ham in December 2004.
The flooding has submerged the central island, killed many of the trees and the majority of the reedbed has died off.
Despite this, waterfowl numbers, including breeding birds, have increased; and water loving trees such as willow and sallow are thriving.