Thursday, February 16, 2012


Brandon ♂Goldeneye
For the first time this year the local Tawny Owls were calling when I left the boat this morning on route to Brandon Marsh at around 6.30am.

My journey was interrupted on the back road towards Long Itchington by a Muntjac Deer, which suddenly took fright and began darting all over the road. Fearing for its safety I pulled up just as he managed to slip through a hole in a nearby fence and made his escape across the field.

When I eventually arrived at Brandon there was a definite feeling of spring in the air. By the time I reached West Marsh for a Bittern vigil prior to starting work I'd recorded 4 Dunnock in song, 2 Goldcrest calling, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming in Horsetail Glade and 2 Song Thrush also in song.

My search for the illusive Bittern proved to be unsuccessful but I did spot my first Little Grebe on site this year, when one of two finally emerged from the reed bed after calling to each other for a good 10 minutes. A text from JR, who was on the east marsh, regarding a ♂Pintail persuaded me to finally give up my search and I made my way over through the central marsh path. On route across: 2 Mistle Thrush, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, 2 pristine Willow Tit near the Black Poplar tree which were constantly calling, 4 Siskin in the Alder and a small group of about 10 Lesser Redpoll passed overhead.

♂Pintail (still on site this afternoon)
I arrived at Big Hide just in time to see a Sparrowhawk shoot through, causing absolute mayhem on the pool and as if this wasn't enough for the 300 or so Lapwing, a Buzzard soon followed. Now that the pools are once again thawed it's interesting to see birds returning which had disappeared in the icy conditions. A pair of Goldeneye, regular before the big freeze appear to have returned and were endlessly diving over towards the deeper water of the pool.

Good numbers of the usual Teal, Shoveler and Tufted Duck, plus several Gadwall and at least 5 Snipe, but I was unable to make contact with the Pintail from Big Hide as he was busily upending near the west bank, totally hidden from view by the reed bed. A welcome sight were the 2 Kingfisher which darted past towards Carlton Pool, one chasing the other which had a nice fish in its beak.

A little chain-saw maintenance was required prior to attacking more of the invasive Willow, so as I made my way back to the tool stores I dropped into Baldwin Hide to finally make contact with the Pintail, still happily feeding near the bank. Another surprise along the path were 3 more Willow Tits on the central marsh area, giving me a best ever Brandon total of 5 for the day.