Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What Migration?

GS Grebe - 1 of 4 today at Brandon!
With various commitments over the last week taking priority over my birding, today was my first opportunity to get back out into the thick of things. Having said that the spring migration, so eagerly awaited by us all, seems to be on hold thanks to a persistent northern high pressure system blocking any Atlantic fronts and blowing in bitterly cold easterlies!

My thoughts go out to those few hardy Swallows and Sand Martins that have actually managed to make it through, god only knows what fate awaits them. As some of you may know one of the ♀ Rutland Ospreys returned as early as March 21st and watching her on the live web-cam, one can only watch in admiration as she seems to be coping extremely well, returning occasionally with a nice fish.

Over the last several days I've managed to miss a few goodies at Brandon Marsh, a classic ♂Marsh Harrier on Friday, as Jim Rushforth described it, two Rock Pipits on East Marsh Pool on Sunday, thanks to Fred Stokes and yesterday the first Little-ringed Plover of the year, plus a fly-by Little Gull.

Chiffchaff - New Arrival or Wintering?
Arriving at Brandon this morning to complete a full species count just after sunrise, my first stop was New Hare Covert, recording a couple of Great-crested Grebe on the aptly named Grebe Pool on route.

My walk takes me past Sheep Field and during my time at Brandon this area has always been the place to find the first singing Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Whitethroat of the spring, and usually in that order. Today no singing individual but this guy gave himself up by his familiar 'hweet' call, a new arrival or a wintering bird?

By the time I reached Wright Hide I'd managed the usual woodland birds with: Great-Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Goldcrest and Nuthatch. A lone Kestrel looked frozen solid on one of the Hawthorn as I passed the golf course, but as I opened the hide flaps a first sign of spring with (2) Little-ringed Plover on Willow Island. Also of note on East Marsh: A second pair of Great-crested Grebe, (1) Little Grebe, (1) ♂Pochard, (2) Oystercatcher and (4) Shelduck. The best of the wildfowl numbers were 41 Shoveler and 14 Gadwall.

Redwing - 120+ today opposite the main exit
There are still small numbers of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll to be found, mostly ground feeding on windfall near the Wright Hide and when passing Farm Field I inadvertently flushed 15 Snipe, which unusually were feeding on a flooded area near the farm. Unfortunately the remainder of the reserve failed to yield any surprises with the best of the regulars being (3) Common Buzzard and a single Sparrowhawk.

Finally, just as I was about to enter Brandon Lane on the way home I noticed a number of birds on the field opposite the exit. When I went to investigate I stumbled on over (120) Redwing ground feeding, along with (6) Pied Wagtail and a dozen or so Goldfinch. Well worth keeping an eye on that one over the coming months!