|Water Vole - A proud Moment for Brandon|
The marina had the usual two dozen or so Pied Wagtails and I managed two of our resident Tree Sparrow population, plus a a small flock of Goldfinch but nothing unusual. On route to Brandon Marsh I stopped off at a couple of locally known hotspots but alas the wind was simply too strong for any decent birding. Napton Reservoir as you would imagine was like a wind tunnel and the best I could pick out were two ♂ Pochard sheltering in the distance.
I arrived at Brandon around 06:45 and took my usual route, accompanied by Derek Bennet, another of the Brandon Volunteers. To be honest there was very little to get excited about, a Kestrel hunting over the top reed bed, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler the best of the bunch. It wasn't until Derek and I reached the Newlands area that yet again Jim Rushforth came up trumps with a Spotted Flycatcher, typically in an area we'd recently passed!
Diverting back it wasn't long before I had my first Brandon Flycatcher of the autumn in my sights, keeping a very low profile in amongst the Elder and Buckthorn, but sitting up beautifully occasionally and offering some good views.
The best during the rest of my visit were the hundreds of Swallow and House Martins, plus the odd Sand Martin, which were constantly on the move. A Hobby scooped in while at big hide trying but failing to bag a Hirondine, 1 Snipe on Wigeon Bank and two Green Sandpipers, one at West Marsh and one at Carlton. Also worth a mention were a total of 4 Goldcrest during my visit, always a pleasure to report.
I'm also delighted to report that over the past two days and after decades of work by the Trust and the Brandon Marsh Voluntary Conservation Team, 200 Water Voles have been released on site. This is the ‘next’ phase in the development of the reserve. The water vole is the UK’s fastest declining mammal – so threatened that it is now completely protected by legislation. Populations of water voles have been steadily declining in the UK due to a number of factors including the loss of habitat, pollution and predation so this is a proud moment for the reserve.
The project is also supported by the Environment Agency, Natural England and local landowners.