Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Good Call

Muntjac Deer
When I woke to a blanket of fog this morning I decided to do my chores first and then complete my usual Tuesday Brandon trip later in the afternoon, hoping things might improve.

Replenishing water, diesel, gas and emptying the toilet is no easy task when your iced in, but I was all complete by mid-morning and arrived at Brandon Marsh around 1pm, thankfully the fog had lifted.

I made my way straight to big hide to enjoy my packed lunch and on arrival met up with another of the Brandon team Ken Sherlock. Ken immediately told me of 6 Goosander out on the unfrozen part of East Marsh Pool. I only managed to locate 4 myself, 2♀ and 2♂ which flew off to the south just after my arrival. Good numbers of Tufted today with around 45, plus a good selection of Teal, Shoveler, 6 Gadwall and around 25 Wigeon. The long staying New Zealand Scaup (escapee) was also amongst them!)

Fieldfare @ Brandon
After tea in the Nature Centre and a catch up with the guys I decided to take a walk over to the top reed bed and Farm Field. I haven't completed this route for some time, an area which has been known to throw up the odd Stonechat on occasions.

During my walk I encountered 2 Bank Vole feeding out in the open and amazingly there are still berries to be had on some of the Hawthorn, here I found 11 Fieldfare making the most of them. A flock of around 20 Goldfinch along with 2 Linnet and 8 Chaffinch were also busy feeding. Buzzard, Kestrel, Song Thrush, Redwing and Green Woodpecker were also recorded. A quick check on the situation regarding invasive Willow and Birch threatening the reed bed inadvertently threw up a Woodcock, which settled back near the Hawthorn bushes after a brief flight.

A final vigil in Big Hide and Carlton Hide towards dusk was worth the effort, particularly with the temperature starting to plummet. A smaller looking Snipe on Wigeon Bank feeding near the waters edge turned out to be my first Jack Snipe of the year, easily identifiable in the scope, especially with its constant bobbing! This was followed shortly after by a Muntjac Deer which tentatively walked along the same bank.

Finally the Carlton Hide, where I recorded Treecreeper, Willow Tit, 2 Water Rail on the ice, a Kestrel using the barrel box over on Newlands and a Barn Owl, which emerged from one of the boxes around 4.45pm. A good call to wait until the afternoon and an excellent few hours birding. The birding day ended when I arrived back at the marina just as a stunning full moon was rising to the east!