Thursday, October 24, 2013

Brandon Marsh

Several visits to Brandon Marsh over the past week in wind, rain and shine and despite not throwing up anything too out of the ordinary, there's still plenty to be found.

Jay - remarkable birds!
Jays, one of my favourite and vastly underrated birds are up to their usual autumn tricks, fighting among themselves for territory and then off burying acorns in preparation for the forthcoming winter. In fact their probably responsible for most of the young oak trees around Brandon, often forgetting exactly where they've hidden most of their booty!

Lesser Redpoll 
Redwings continue to arrive in decent numbers, though mostly found deep in cover and currently very skittish, feeding in the lower levels of hawthorn. Fieldfare on the other hand are still in smaller numbers and during my Tuesday visit I only managed to record four birds, which flew south calling over Sheep Field.

Tuesday also produced more Siskin and Lesser Redpoll sightings and at one stage near the volunteers tool store at least a single Brambling was heard overhead. Goldcrests and Robins are also beginning to increase in numbers, with some of our continental visitors beginning to arrive and join our sedentary population, continental Blackbirds can also be found on the reserve.

Siskin can be found high in the alder!
Today a surprise on arrival just prior to dawn, with a Little Owl calling from across on Brandon Lane, a bird not often seen or heard on the reserve. The pools continued to host two hundred or so Wigeon, very unusual for Brandon to sustain such high numbers (we must be doing something right) and a first winter ♂Goldeneye remains on East Marsh Pool. Snipe numbers are low for the time of year, with only two birds noted today and Cetti's Warbler and Water Rail can also be heard, mainly from Carlton Pool. In fact these were quite vocal today while the team were clearing more of the dreaded Crassula helmsii. Today was also a good day for vis-mig (visible migration) and Skylark passage was constant, along with various numbers of Meadow Pipit, Siskin, Redpoll and Redwing.

My highlight of the week was undoubtedly my close encounter with an Otter this morning! As I walked past the primrose bank a huge splash alerted me to something on the fisherman's pool. Suddenly, what I suspect was probably a young animal, came out of the water and ran up the bank only feet away from me, before a change of mind had it launch itself back into the pool and away. Having seen Otters on the reserve on several occasions, this was a stunning sighting and I'm unsure as to who was the most startled by the event, the Otter or me!