Sunday, December 04, 2011

Two Winter Firsts

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An interesting end to the week, a week in which I've rubbed shoulders with a household name and recorded my first Bittern and Jack Snipe sightings of the winter.

On Thursday afternoon the BBC Countryfile team were recording at Brandon Marsh for the up coming Christmas episode. With a working knowledge of the reserve a few of the conservation team members were in attendance, which included yours truly. In the late afternoon I was lucky enough to accompany John Craven in a search for Holly and Ivy. Fortunately, with only two Holly Bushes on the whole reserve, my first hand knowledge came in very handy. I'm just glad that I took them to the female of the species, as I couldn't remember initially if it was laden with berries or not. Thankfully my embarrassment was spared, no need to panic either, as you will definitely not be seeing me on the big screen!

Today's visit to Brandon turned up a couple of winter firsts with amazingly only my first brief glimpse of Bittern this winter, when one bird took flight across the reeds as I passed the 'Olive Wood' bench at around 8am. East Marsh Pool still has the 2 long staying pairs of Goldeneye and an amazing count of at least 140 Golden Plover. Golden Plover have now been visiting regularly at Brandon for over a month, an unprecedented sequence as prior to this these birds were a very infrequent visitor. Snipe and Pochard numbers were down on previous counts with only 3 and 17 respectively.

Carlton Hide produced Kingfisher and Water Rail, with a Common Buzzard and Mistle Thrush sharing the big dead tree for a while. However, the best was my first Jack Snipe at Brandon this winter, when one was seen briefly to the rear of the island, before bobbing back into the undergrowth.

Also of note today: Willow Tit (1), Siskin (8), Lesser Redpoll (6), Fieldfare (11), Redwing (11), Sparrowhawk (1), Kestrel (2), Coal Tit (2), Nuthatch (1), Bullfinch (6 - 3♀ + 3♂), Goldcrest (2). A second glimpse at East Marsh Hide, of probably the same Bittern seen earlier, shortly before I headed off to the nature centre for breakfast at 11am.

Locally the Marina still has various numbers of Linnet, Goldfinch and at least 100 Fieldfare are still in the locality, this evenings Pied Wagtail roost had circa 150 birds, a slight reduction from previous nights. The Long-eared Owl mentioned in my previous post is still showing in its regular daytime roost. Finally, with no decent photographic opportunities today I've enclosed the above picture which I took yesterday at the marina, when I noticed our resident Mute Swans having a clean in the winter sun.