Thursday, September 01, 2011


Migrant Hawker Dragonfly
If like me you work on the meteorological calendar then today was the first day of Autumn. In real terms it felt like the first day of summer with temperatures up to 23C.

When I went to bed last night at around midnight the sky was crystal clear and when I left the boat this morning at 5.30am there still wasn't a cloud in the sky, a perfect night for migration.

I arrived at Brandon Marsh just before sunrise and spent the first part of the morning with some of the Conservation Team. Not surprisingly there was very little of note as I imagine lots of the warbler population had taken the opportunity to move on, the best was 3 Kingfisher, a lone Snipe and 2 Wigeon on East Marsh Pool.

Conservation Team at Rest!
I'm still not really fit enough to rejoin the working party just yet and knowing that the East Marsh Pool was due it's end of summer hair cut I made my way across to West Marsh. I spent a very enjoyable hour with Geoff Haynes at Steetley Hide, another Brandon regular and we were entertained by a very patient Kingfisher and a very determined Hobby, which kept us spellbound with some amazing aerobatics, two Green Sandpiper's were also recorded.

After leaving Geoff I made my way around to the 'Tip' area and River Meadow for the remainder of the morning. Here the Dragonflies seemed to be having their best day of the year so far with excellent numbers in flight, the best of which were Migrant and Southern Hawker. No surprise then when two more Hobby were recorded both taking advantage of the veritable feast on offer.

Butterflies unfortunately have not had their best year at Brandon, however there were still plenty on offer and I spent a very enjoyable hour photographing and recording the few that were around: Small Copper, Small Heath, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Comma, Brown Argus, Green-veined White, Small White, Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown.

Willow Tit
(Now on the RSPB 'At-Risk' list)
I decided to return to the East Marsh for lunch and took the route through the Central Marsh area specifically in the hope of coming across a Tawny Owl, which has been quite vocal during the day in recent weeks. Although the bird, probably a youngster, was heard yet again I've still to make contact. Two Willow Tit and various numbers of Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were recorded, the latter found in the increasing numbers of Long-tailed Tit flocks, always worth extra scrutiny at this time of year!

I joined the conservation team once more as they were completing the final stages of the East Marsh hair-cut, a bang up job once again with all Islands and banks now cut, plus the famous Bittern Ride, a channel which is cut into the reed bed directly to the left of 'Big Hide' and is an excellent place to see Bittern during the winter months. The final birds of note for the day were two Yellow Wagtail which flew across East Marsh Pool just prior to leaving.

Regarding Tuesday's Brandon visit, which I didn't get time to post, the best on offer was a single Wood Sandpiper, which flew in while I was having lunch in 'Big Hide'.