|Saturday's Water Rail|
Well it seems that autumn has definitely arrived overnight as a cold front pushed in behind some locally well needed rain.
I arrived at a crystal clear and somewhat calm Brandon Marsh before dawn to have a check on the Owl situation around the reserve. We're well aware that several of the Barn Owl boxes have residence but I wanted to have a check on the Tawny population, see if the recent Short-eared Owl was still around, and also check a few hot spots for Long-eared Owl.
After a walk through Horsetail Glade which had a single Tawny Owl Calling I arrived at Sheep Field and immediately located a Short-eared Owl quartering quite close to the Brandon Lane railway bridge. I was joined a short while later by Martin and Derek just prior to sunrise, who managed several quick views before the bird made off towards the golf course area.
No sign of Long-eared, a little early for Brandon perhaps and still a lot of leaf on the trees despite last night strong winds, making the search even more difficult. I was also quite optimistic that last night may have brought in something different like Woodcock or even the first Bittern of the autumn, but to be honest things were quite dire once the sun came up and the wind increased. Talking of Bittern, we have a sweep stake running at Brandon for the first arrival and without going into too much detail, guess who's already blown his £1. Oh for the Easterlies!!
East Marsh Pool held some good numbers of water fowl with a good influx of Pochard (8♀ and 6♂), 14 Wigeon and excellent numbers of Teal, Shoveler and several Gadwall, 4 Snipe were also noted. The only other highlight was a Sparrowhawk perched in willow on Wigeon Bank for a short while, which caused mayhem amongst the large Lapwing flock.
Visible migration appeared none existent today in the strong wind with only 1 Skylark heard, Fieldfare were nowhere to be found but I did manage a small number of Redwing. A Siskin flock of around 20 birds was seen along with a small number of Lesser Redpoll, 2 Brambling were also heard over!
Other species of note included Goldcrest, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Kestrel, Nuthatch, Grey Wagtail, 11 Pied Wagtail near Farm Field and Kingfisher at West Marsh. Still a few Butterflies on the wing with 4 Red Admiral and several Common Darter Dragonfly were also seen around the reserve, particularly on the footpaths, no doubt trying to enjoy the last of the autunal heat.
With the lack of photographic opportunities I've posted a Water Rail which I was fortunate to have all to myself for a half hour in Carlton Hide on Saturday morning. That is before two numpties bundled their way in, poked their lenses out of the windows and sent the bird scurrying back into the reeds!