Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cracking Day!

Mediterranean Gull Record Shot!
Having tweaked my back a few days ago completing some boat repairs I decided that today's visit to Brandon Marsh would be mostly confined to the hides. I certainly don't wish to go through the trauma encountered last summer when I was completely laid out during a visit to France!

With this in mind I positioned myself in Big Hide at first light in the hope that last weekends Glaucous Gull may well be within the overnight roost. As I opened the flaps in anticipation all hope faded, astonishingly only one solitary Black-headed Gull to be found, a great start to the birding day!

Well my cup is always half full and a quick scan of East Marsh Pool soon diminished my early disappointment. The long staying ♂♀Pintail were still asleep off Willow Island, ♂♀Goldeneye were also having a snooze near the floating rafts and a terrific count of 31 Snipe, my best this year. Further scans produced 5 Pochard, 6 Gadwall, 4 Oystercatcher, 5 Shelduck, 45 Tufted Duck and C100 Lapwing and so the day was definitely improving.

Curlew on East Marsh Pool (click to Enlarge!)
As the morning progressed 3 Cetti's Warbler could be heard calling from the reed bed, a Water Rail made a mad dash from one reed bed to the other and as I chatted to Tony Pratley, who'd arrived to clean the hides, (a volunteer and a person who I must highly commend,) a flock of around 50 or so Golden Plover could be seen circling in the distance high over Newlands reed bed. I'd noticed that a few of the other regulars had arrived and were busy scanning from the Wright Hide and so a quick phone call to alert them to the Plover. This was happily reciprocated when a call back shortly after alerted me to a Curlew, which gassing to Tony I'd completely missed dropping in onto Willow Island.

The day was to get even better when I moved on to Carlton Hide, where after a short vigil a Bittern flew from the right hand reeds towards big dead tree. As if this wasn't enough, less than 5 minutes later a second flew high from the left over East Marsh Pool, eventually dropping down onto Swallow Pool, stunning stuff!

Water Rail (More Like Road Runner!!)
Having settled back into Big Hide happy with my lot and enjoying a coffee and a chat with the guys I didn't expect the day to get even more interesting. It certainly did when the earlier 50 or so Golden Plover eventually dropped down, shortly followed by the arrival of the first 2 Ringed Plover of the year, a sure sign spring is on the way. Could things get even better? Well in fact yes they could with one of Peter Berrill's endless scans of the pool locating our first Mediterranean Gull of the year, and Jim's beady eye picking up 4 Dunlin amongst the scattering flock after an unseen Raptor pass, probably a Sparrowhawk, which was seen later in the afternoon.

A cracking days birding and my best day so far this year at Brandon! A few records shots of today's visitors, but with poor light and distance that's all they are, record shots!