Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Spring Awaits!

Depending on your point of view, meteorological speaking spring is a mere 10 days away. Indeed, it wont be long before all eyes are to the skies looking for that first Sand Martin of the year!

Lots of trees uprooted and held up by the recent winds!
Today I managed a real in-depth look around Brandon Marsh and one of the things that hit me is how different the reserve currently looks after recent events. With older and rotted trees succumbing to the high winds, new ponds appearing, flattened reed beds and brimming pools, the whole place has taken on a new ambiance.

All sluices open but a slow process.
A walk through New Hare Covert just after sunrise and the whole place was awash with birdsong. Song Thrush, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Goldcrest, Chaffinch and even several calls from a Brambling high in the canopy, which unfortunately Alban, Mike and I didn't quite manage to connect with. As we passed by the golf course a couple of Cetti's Warblers emerged from the bramble, offering a brief and unmistakable snippet of song before making off. We arrived at Wright Hide just in time to shelter from a heavy downpour and even with the sluices fully open East Marsh Pool is still to bursting point. A decent count of seven Goldeneye, single Shelduck, Little Grebe, Kingfisher (3) Snipe and various numbers of Wigeon, Shoveler and Teal, plus my first Brandon Great-crested Grebe of the year were the highlights. The path leading away from Wright Hide had at least four Lesser Redpoll ground feeding and both Treecreeper and Goldcrest were heard calling.

Reed Buntings in song throughout the reed beds.
A walk to Carlton Hide and through to the screen area produced a ♂Muntjac Deer along the Carlton ditch, Skylark over and at least a half dozen Reed Buntings singing away from various vantage points, such a mundane song for such an attractive bird.

Scarlet Elf Cup - Lots to investigate in the woodlands.
Personally I love to see the open sky but for me at this time of year woodlands are the place to be and so later in the morning I spent an hour or so in Horsetail Glade, only three or so years ago a great place to see Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers. Here I settled on the bench for a coffee, sometimes a great idea to just sit and let the wildlife come to you and it certainly did. A couple of Treecreepers, generally found in pairs at this time of year were busy feeding and constantly calling, a very high pitched call which thankfully I can still pick up. A Nuthatch seemed to be investigating a possible nesting sight and at least four Great-spotted Woodpeckers were causing havoc. Jays are still battling away too in their territorial quest and a nice surprise when a Bank Vole ran through close to my perch. Sadly, no LS Woodpeckers today but we can live in hope!