Sunday, May 08, 2011

Rain at Last!

Corn Bunting
The past few days have finally provided some much needed rain to the area, torrential at times with thunder and with the winds currently from the south you just never know what might drop in. With heavy showers now forecast I'll be keeping a close eye on Napton Hill for any downed migrants, although this spring seems to have produced more here at the marina than on the hill!

Speaking of which the last few days have seen a Common Sandpiper near the canal entrance on Friday, along with a Hobby hunting overhead later in the day. Yesterday while driving out of the marina around fifty or so Golden Plover were seen flying north. When I returned a short while later two noisy Arctic Terns flew through heading northwest. Several Skylarks have been singing constantly in the surrounding fields and at least two Lesser Whitethroats are still on site and in song. However, the best was my first recorded Corn Bunting on site, which I found this morning in full song atop one of the hawthorn bushes.

Last night I decided to pay a rare evening visit to Brandon Marsh, something I haven't done for a good while, normally preferring to arrive just prior to sunrise. I got to site around 5:30pm were I met George Wootton who informed me that 3 Little Egret were on site for a short while earlier. The first thing that hit me when I got out of the car was that gorgeous earthy fresh smell you get after a recent downpour. In fact the current water levels are quite low, particularly on River Pool and so the recent rainfall is a godsend. The River Avon, which runs around the southern perimeter of Brandon, is also desperately low.

East Marsh Pool was a cacophony of noise, particularly with a small group of Black-headed Gulls, which I seriously hope make a decision not to nest here, the noise would be unbearable! The usual melee of Little Ringed Plover were constantly on the go, I counted eight today, along with two Ringed Plover, which were moving constantly back and forth from River Pool. The long staying Ruff seems to have finally departed and at last 4 Oystercatcher chicks were seen on Tern Island. 3 Redshank were recorded plus: ♂♀Shoveler, 8-Gadwall, 6-Teal and 22 Tufted Duck, an unusually large number for the time of year!

Carlton Hide was where I spent the rest of the evening on the lookout for Hobby and Barn Owl, the Mayflies were out and a number of Swifts were passing through. 2 Grasshopper Warblers were heard reeling, one of which I got the briefest of glimpses and the second was heard in reeds over by the river Avon as I left a while later. A Cuckoo spent a lot of time in the big dead tree calling, apparently two were seen earlier in the day mating, so nice to know there is actually a female on site, although no reports of one bubbling thus far.

As darkness fell and the threat of rain a constant, a lone Hobby finally arrived hunting over the pool providing some spectacular views while feeding on the wing and a Barn Owl was also seen quartering to the back of Newlands reed bed. On the walk back to the car in the diminishing light a final look at East Marsh yielded a single Shelduck and two Pipistrelle Bats were seen on the Central Marsh Path. As I drove from the volunteers car park past Horsetail Glade a Badger ran across my path and just as I was driving out of the reserve the rain duly arrived!