Saturday, April 23, 2011

Groppers Galore!

Grasshopper Warbler (Library Image)
A busy last few days catching up on some boaty chores and since returning to the UK last Sunday the weather has been stunning, with temperatures reaching 26C on occasions.

I joined up with the Conservation Team at Brandon Marsh on Thursday and spent the morning taking out invasive Birch on the top reedbed. Good news too while I was away in Canada, planning permission for the Phase 3 Newlands reedbed project was finally granted, and so we can now move on to the next stage of the project come autumn. Work has already begun and If anyone visiting Brandon comes across a strange looking greenhouse type structure that's suddenly appeared on the lower car park, this is in fact the nursery for the reeds required for the planting of the new bed.

The birding highlights for Thursday were more Grasshopper Warblers, four today, plus a brief glimpse of Hobby which overflew Horstail Glade during lunch.

With the Easter weekend now in full swing the marina and Oxford Canal resemble something which looks more like the M25 motorway. Yesterday (Good Friday) I sat out on the pontoon watching the antics of many novice boater's as they attempted to navigate in and out of the marina, always great fun to watch. The birding provided an occasional interesting moment too, firstly, while having breakfast al fresco my first Swift of the spring moved through heading west, then later in the afternoon two Yellow Wagtail overflew towards Napton reservoir!

This morning I arrived at Brandon shortly after sunrise and completed my usual tour of the reserve, before departing shortly after 11am prior to the hoards arriving. The usual Warblers were all in good song, in fact all the regular summer visitors are now in, although I've personally yet to register Swift and House Martin on site. An addition to my Tuesday list was a lone Ruff, which continued to feed on Willow Island throughout my stay, I also recorded an additional Cuckoo, making it two for today's visit.

It appears that this year may also be an unprecedented year for Grasshopper Warbler at Brandon. Today I managed a personal best of eight reeling birds throughout the reserve, actually managing some good views of at least three. Looking at the various forums, tweets and blogs it would seem that nationally too a lot more of these secretive birds are being heard, which is very welcome news after recent dramatic population declines.

I spent a good while today adding to my 2011 Butterfly count, which currently stands at ten species. The latest addition today was Large White, and although it's still early for some species to be around, those that are appear to be in good numbers and so all looks well for a bumper summer!