Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Back At The Ranch!

Hobby (Library Image)
I'm not sure whether it was the jet lag but I was awake at 3am this morning and despite planning a return to Brandon Marsh today at a reasonable hour, I duly arrived at around 5.30am to be greeted by at least 500 Starlings swirling across the Top Reedbed. I watched an almost full moon setting to the south-west on a beautiful, if not chilly morning (3C), before moving off on my usual route past Sheepfield, towards Wright Hide for my first coffee of the day.

The place had changed dramatically since my last visit over 5 weeks ago and I was astonished at how advanced the UK spring actually is. The place was alive with birdsong, Willow Warblers seemed to be singing from every tree, a couple of Chiffchaff were calling too and a Swallow zoomed past as though it only had moments to live! Sheepfield provided a first opportunity to see what else was about and within 10 minutes I'd recorded several Whitethroat and Blackcap, plus a reeling Grasshopper Warbler and a singing Lesser Whitethroat. New Hare Covert provided several more Blackcaps, Song Thrush and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

I paused when I got to Newlands for a while to watch the sunrise, listening to my second reeling Grasshopper Warbler of the day, when a Hobby came across the reeds moving south. Although I doubt it was feeding on dragonflies at this earlier hour it was definitely feeding in the trademark Hobby fashion, by lifting talon to mouth while still in flight, always an awesome sight to behold! A lone Barnacle Goose on the golf course and two Linnet, which looked to be surveying a nesting area, along with Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler, before my coffee in a freezing Wright Hide.

East Marsh Pool was busy with two Little Ringed Plover giving chase, a couple of Common Tern on the goal posts, and when I'd completed my counts I ended up with of note: Little Ringed Plover (6), Ringed Plover (2), Redshank (1), Oystercatcher (3), Pink-footed Goose (1), Snipe (2), GC Grebe (2), Sand Martin were numerous and there were also small numbers of Teal, Shoveler and Tufted Duck.

Lesser Whitethroat (Library Image)
The River Pool Hide had a further 2 Redshank and several more Teal, and so after a brief visit to Big Hide I made my way up to Carlton Hide. On the walk up I connected with a singing Garden Warbler and a distant Cuckoo, and after the Carlton Hide itself yielded nothing further of interest I got a second glimpse of possibly the same earlier Hobby, as it flew left to right as I appeared from the hide. I finally caught up with the rest of the 'Tuesday Bunch' back at Big Hide for more coffee and a catch up on what's been happening in my absence.

At the hide Mike, Peter, and I decided to take a walk across the 'Tip' area and around Farm Pool Reedbed, where we planned to stop for a picnic lunch. On route we managed 8 Buzzard in flight at one time and a third Gropper of the day, before we emerged to overlook the old farm area. Here we located a very pristine male Wheatear on the farmers fence, which eventually dropped to ground level before flying onto a nearby Hawthorn, where it was joined by a second bird.

A very rewarding return to Brandon, which also included 3 Grasssnake, and numerous Butterflies including Common Blue, Orange Tip, Peacock, Green-veined White, Small White, Speckled Wood and Comma.