Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nice Surprise

Pied Flycatcher (Library Image)
I have to say that more recently I’ve not had the time available to spend on birding that I would normally like but as they say, once a birder always a birder, and no matter where you are your instincts are always zoned in for something different.

This weekend for example we spent with friends in Suffolk who are not birders and on Sunday attended the Southend Air Show, aviation being a second passion of mine. I have to say that I was very disappointed with the line up now that the council have apparently withdrawn funding and so with binoculars in hand anyway, found myself straying away from the mechanical flyer's to the feathered kind once more. The highlight of which were two summer plumage Mediterranean Gulls, which were feeding out in the mud flats just out from the sea wall.

After my weekend break I returned to Brandon Marsh this morning and if I’m being completely honest didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary. Over the past few weeks the highlights have been Little Egret, a brief visit of juvenile Osprey and Greenshank. Mind you a survey of the Owl boxes throughout the reserve last Thursday yielded some excellent results, with both Tawny Owl and Barn Owl doing extremely well, in total 9 Owlets were ringed.

Alpine Swift (Library Image)
With the trees and bushes now in full bloom and spring migration now over it’s that time of year when you rely more on your instincts and in particular you’re hearing. It was very noticeable today that lots of species had quietened down and are now busy with the task of feeding youngsters. I lost count of the numbers of young Whitethroat that were constantly demanding food from parents. The Islands on East Marsh Pool have Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Redshank and now Little Ringed Plover chicks.

The surprise of the day came in New Hare Covert when searching for my first Spotted Flycatcher of the year with Derek Bennett. We in fact came across a very pristine looking Pied Flycatcher instead, which was a first for me at Brandon, having missed earlier spring visits due to my trip to Canada. Unfortunately, we were unable to re-locate the bird later in the day.

The ringing team were also active today on 'constant effort' and shortly after arriving at the main hide a phone call from Jim Rushforth had Derek, Mike, Adrian, John and myself scanning for an Alpine Swift that had been spotted by two members of the team over East Marsh Pool. Sadly, after around 45 minutes of non-stop scanning, we binned out!

Not many Butterflies or Odanata to report today (Common Blue, Small White & Speckled Wood Butterfly) but there are lots of Spotted Orchids to be found throughout the reserve, unfortunately only small in size, probably due to recent lack of rainfall!

A brief update for the Marina grounds consist of small numbers of Pied Wagtail young and fledged families of Greenfinch, Reed Bunting and Sedge Warbler. I was also delighted to see 3 young Skylark in the adjacent field. Yellowhammers are constantly singing from the nearby phone wires too!