Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Hazel catkins!
With a visit to Brandon Marsh in glorious spring like sunshine, an evening stroll around the marina grounds the same day and a visit to Coventry Airport for the reported 200+ Bramblings this afternoon, it's only now I find time to actually sit and compile a post!

First to Brandon on Tuesday morning and after a cold start it wasn't long before the layers began to come off. I started the day at Big Hide and wasn't surprised to find the pool around 80% frozen. A first of the year Ringed Plover, (2) Oystercatcher, (7) Snipe, (3) Shelduck and (2) Great Crested Grebe the best of the hide visit. Unfortunately with so much water lying and even with the sluices wide open it seems to be taking an age for the East Marsh Pool to reduce in level, so patience seems to be the watchword!

A brief visit to Carlton Hide with Martin and Keith #2 and on the return to Big Hide for morning coffee the wonderful sight and sound of around fifty or so Wigeon dropping in.

Bittern - mightily cropped image!
After coffee a walk down to Swallow Pool where at least two Bittern have been frequenting a particular area of late, picking up Goldcrest, Lesser Redpoll and Treecreeper on the way. A short vigil in the area around our last sighting didn't produce anything but as we walked along the path near the golf course one flew straight in to the designated spot. After moving back around and a short search the bird was located, elusive but visible (above).

The Snowdrops and Daffodils are now starting to appear and pictured top-left one of the gorgeous Hazels in New Hare Covert now starting to display a wonderful array of catkins. Back at the volunteer car park the final notable of the visit was a single Grey Wagtail on the ground by the Lafarge works   mixing plant.

Sunset at Wigram's Turn Marina
Tuesday evening was just too lovely to miss and so at dusk I took a slow stroll around the marina grounds in crystal clear skies and not a breath of wind. Only small numbers of Pied Wagtails were in the evening roost and I estimated about 30+ dropped down into the east-side reed bed. At least 200+ mixed Thrushes, Linnet and Starling were in the adjacent fields and although most dispersed several went to roost in the Hawthorn on the canal side. Also seen were around 100+ Lapwing flying over towards Napton Reservoir where they dropped into a nearby field. Sadly no sight or sound of the local Tawny or Little Owls, normally very vocal in these conditions but the silhouette of a local Buzzard could be seen in the Owls favorite Oak Tree.

Finally, I met up with Jim Rushforth at Coventry Airport this afternoon for a brief look at the large Linnet/Brambling flock reported in the flax field opposite the museums Vulcan Bomber. Bad timing on my part really as the now bitter easterly wind seems to have pushed them further back into the field for shelter and they simply didn't come close to the road. Although Jim connected with a few Brambling yesterday I'm sad to say my luck didn't seem to be in. However, one highlight was when around 100 or so Linnet, with a few Skylark mixed in, were attacked by a Sparrowhawk we'd been watching perched in a nearby Hawthorn, so not a wasted visit.