After a few recent trips further afield the past week has been spent either at Brandon Marsh, continuing the fight to clear Carlton Pool of the dreaded pygmy weed, or birding locally. We seem to have made real inroads into clearing the pool and I would imagine that, weather permitting, we could even begin to let the water back in some time soon. We're under no illusions that this will actually cure the problem, Crassula helmsii is almost impossible to eradicate and will certainly return, but at least it will give us a standpoint and the opportunity to instigate an ongoing management plan.
Real progress at Carlton Pool
On the birding front the most noticeable thing at Brandon is the continuing influx of winter thrushes, with Redwing and Fieldfare noted in reasonable numbers, Siskin and Redpoll have also been building but more slowly. Shortly after leaving on Tuesday afternoon I received a phone call from George Wootton reporting eight Black-tailed Godwit on East Marsh, to my knowledge this is the first godwit sighting of the year.
On Friday I decided on another morning visit to Draycote Water and met up with the usual Draycote regulars. The water itself is still extremely quiet, with only a small flock of Wigeon in flight of note, but visible migration was still very evident with Redwing, Blackbird and Skylark movement overhead and in among the dozen or so Meadow Pipit along Farborough Bank, my first Rock Pipit of the autumn. Another local autumnal first was a Merlin, which flew through while chatting to Richard, continuing on across towards the inlet. A short time after, while still chatting away, a phone call from Bob Hazell sent us scurrying along towards the hide in the hope of seeing a Black Redstart which he'd picked up. Sadly, even by the short time it took us to get there, the bird had been flushed by joggers and cyclists and despite a good search of the area we never managed to relocate.
A nice fall of Brambling at Napton Churchyard, with around twenty or so birds was a nice diversion on the way home from Draycote. During my stay Buzzard, Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare, Green Woodpecker and Goldcrest were also noted and with no birding this weekend, a non birding visit to see friends in Suffolk, I'm looking forward to getting out on the patch again this coming week.