Thursday, September 15, 2011

Brandon Surprise

Ruddy Shelduck?? - Record Shot
For several weeks now Brandon Marsh has been desperately quiet and so when I arrived this morning I wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary, but thankfully that was all to change.

I stopped for a while to chat to Jim Rushforth who was ringing near the Olive Bench and in particular to have a look at a very noisy Green Woodpecker he'd just captured. By the time I settled at the Wright Hide I'd managed to record a late singing Willow Warbler near Sheep Field, a half dozen Chiffchaff, 2 juvenile Goldcrest and a lone Buzzard, who was helping himself to a slice of rabbit.

Several members of the Conservation Team joined me and as we sat chatting the first surprise of the day was an Arctic Tern, which made a complete circuit of the pool before heading off south. Very nice, in almost 3 years of being involved at Brandon this was a reserve first for me.

Ruddy Shelduck?? - Record 2
The second surprise of the day was when Mike Lee pointed out a large duck on Willow Island, which must have appeared as we were observing the Tern, on inspection the first thought was Ruddy Shelduck or Cape Shelduck. Over the course of the next 45 minutes I was able to get around to Big Hide and take numerous record shots of the bird so a more detailed assessment can take place. Not great pictures but we'll see.

As the rest of the team departed for work I had a quick coffee at Big Hide, during which time a Peregrine made a brief appearance, spooking the whole of the pool. I decided to take a tour to the west of the reserve, taking in the 'Tip' area, Top Reed Bed and Farm Field. A few remaining Butterflies were on the wing which included: 8 Comma and various smaller numbers of Gatekeeper, Small Copper, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral and Small White.

Farm Field Whinchat - Click To Enlarge
The Farm Field area produced ♀Whinchat and ♀Wheatear, an area of the reserve that always throws up the odd surprise during the migration periods. I then decided to complete the whole circuit before having lunch at the Nature and this took me past the main gate where yet another ♀Wheatear was showing well. The final surprise of the day was when I recorded a second ♀Whinchat; unbelievably in the exact same hawthorn bush I recorded one last year!

When I left after lunch and a coffee with the Conservation Team a Whinchat was still showing very well from the bus parking area, with both Max Silverman and Jeff Rankin doing their level best to obtain a decent photograph? I'm sure there will better ones available than my record shot soon!

***UPDATE - General consensus is that this is a Cape Shelduck (Escapee)