Friday, June 15, 2012


With my next trip abroad not planned until September it's time to settle back enjoy the summer and concentrate on the local patch and Brandon Marsh. That is of course if the summer ever arrives here in the UK!

Over the past few weeks I've made various visits to Brandon, including spending a little time yesterday morning extracting trees which came down in the last storm. I'm hopeful that the current battering doesn't have me extracting the chain-saw equipment once again from it's summer hibernation.

Treecreeper Parent
As you would imagine Brandon is awash with young birds of all types Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Little Grebe and Goldcrest amongst the many species that I've been monitoring and seem to be faring well. It's interesting too that there's still a healthy number of Cuckoo's on site, Thursday morning I managed three, including one calling♂ and a bubbling♀, a sign that they haven't quite finished yet. It's also a real possibility that we may have nesting Hobbies, if confirmed this would be the first breeding pair for the site so fingers crossed.

Although the Butterfly and Dragonfly population of Brandon have been badly affected by the weather Damselfly's seem to be on a roll. A visit to the river meadow produced very encouraging amounts of Banded Demoiselle and Common Blue. Various Moths are also in good numbers with Cinnabar, Chimney Sweep, Burnet Companion and Long Horn doing well.

Water Shrew (Rare to Brandon)
I've also been lucky enough to come across a new site species for me more recently in the form of Water Shrew, the largest of the British Shrew and quite a rarity to Brandon. Even more encouraging is that both animals were spotted on completely different parts of the reserve. These are amazing little mammals that are very well adapted to an aquatic environment such as Brandon. They have a dark black-brown coat of short fur that is paler underneath and which is waterproof and stays dry, even while swimming. Unlike the other shrews found in Britain they have hidden ears, only visible as white tufts which they can close when they are in the water.

Skylark Success
From a local perspective things seem to be faring quite well too. After a personal request the marina manager was good enough to allow the dog walking meadow to grow untamed away from the walking tracks and this has already paid great dividends. A brood of 4 skylark I've been keeping an eye on have now successfully fledged, a great success story and the grass cutting pile from the rest of the marina houses at least 2 Grass Snakes. When we are eventually blessed with a summer I'll be interested to see what other gems the meadow may reveal. Kudos to the management!