Thursday, March 30, 2017

Diary Update #18

☔🔆  Thursday 30th March 2017 ~ I arrived at sunrise for a tour of the reserve before heading off to work with the conservation team. With rain overnight and a nice southerly blowing the chances of a few more arrivals was well on the cards. In fact as I passed through New Hare Covert a couple of Blackcaps were singing, a nice year first!

Oystercatchers at breakfast!
Passing by the golf course two of the currently resident Oystercatchers were breakfasting on the green, in search of a few worms no doubt. While here I could here at distance the unmistakable song of a Willow Warbler but by the time I arrived at the location the bird had stopped singing. However, I needn't have worried about getting my first Willow Warbler of the year as a second bird was singing at the Carlton Hide and showing very well a short while later. This along with another Blackcap.

A rare glimpse of a Brandon ~ Cetti's Warbler 
In the East Marsh Hide for coffee and several rain showers brought down lots of Sand Martins, with a couple of Swallows within. The Martins are already checking out both of the nesting structures. A rare glimpse of a Cetti's Warbler too in the reeds below and a year best count of four Little-ringed Plovers on the Islands. The Black-tailed Godwit remains and was in fact joined later in the day by another two! The two Egyptian Geese also made a return visit to East Marsh Pool during the morning. The Goosander is still thriving but mostly on Swallow Pool.

Record shot of Juvenile  Mediterranean Gull ~ Well picked out by JR...
Jim Rushforth found a juvenile Mediterranean Gull on the pool, which I believe is a first summer bird but ageing juvenile gulls is not my forte so I yield to the experts if I'm incorrect.

I spent the rest of the morning over on Farm Pool Reedbed burning off willow with a few of the guys, which I'd extracted earlier in the month and other members of the conservation team rescued and repaired the tern raft, which had broken its moorings.

In the afternoon the sun shone, enticing several butterflies out which included (4) Brimstone and a Comma. Other Birds of note today: (2) Meadow Pipit, (3) Little Grebe, Ringed Plover, (6) Great Crested Grebe, (3) Redshank and numerous Buzzards enjoying the thermals.

Diary Update #17

⛅  Tuesday 28th March 2017 ~ Continued the search for new arrivals but a quieter day with little change at Brandon Marsh! That said I still managed a year~tick ✅  and a Brandon year~tick  in the form of my first Swallow and a couple of Egyptian Geese, the latter an irregular visitor to the reserve.

Black-tailed Godwit ~ Teal Pool
The Black-tailed Godwit remained for its 2nd day and a couple of Little-ringed Plover were actually displaying on Tern Island, that's the smaller of the two larger islands on East Marsh pool.

A brace of Egyptian Geese on Tern Island!
A Willow Tit was also heard at the junction of Central Marsh and River Pool track but I never made contact. I'm also happy to report the I spotted the injured Goosander in his usual spot on Swallow Pool, a relief as I feared for his well being having not seen him on Sunday!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Diary Update #16

⛅  Thursday 23rd March 2017 ~ Spent my time with the conservation team thinning out Silver Birch in the top wood, still clearing up post Storm Doris! After work a walk around New Hare Covert and along to East Marsh hide produced a Red Kite, when one drifted over Ted Jury hide before heading off towards the airport.

Comma ~ Year First
🔆💨 Friday 24th March 2017 ~ A brisk easterly wind likely reduced the odds of any summer migrants appearing at Brandon Marsh today but a pleasant visit and quite warm in the sheltered areas. Two new year-firsts  in the form of Small Tortoiseshall and Comma butterflies. A Willow Tit near the Carlton ditch was a birding highlight!

Fieldfare still passing through!
🔆💨 Sunday 26th March 2017 ~ The brisk easterly wind and high pressure continues so it was no surprise that this mornings Brandon Marsh visit produced little. Only highlights were (3) Great Crested Grebe, single Redshank, (2) Oystercatcher, injured Goosander and the long staying Dunlin. A Ringed Plover dropped in mid morning and lone Redwing was worth noting! Dee and I had a walk in the late afternoon around Napton Reservoir and Calcutt Locks. A single Sand Martin, Grey Wagtail and (7) Fieldfare noted.

Record shot of one of two separate Little Gulls at Brandon Monday!
🌫  Monday 27th March 2017 ~ After rescuing a fellow moorer who'd locked herself out of her boat I arrived at Brandon Marsh a little later than anticipated! Thankfully a Black-tailed Godwit, which Fred Stokes had kindly texted me about earlier was still on site. In fact it turned out to be an extremely good visit, this despite the low cloud and nagging easterly wind. At least two Little Gulls on East Marsh Pool, one mid morning and a second later in the day. The latter was still on site when I left around 3:30pm. At 12:25hrs a large raptor was noted over Newlands and turned out to be a Marsh Harrier, best guess at distance would be an adult female? the bird circled over the reedbeds for a short while before moving south!

Little Gull ~ Different bird to the above!
Once again I've posted my notable sightings for the day on Jeff's Unofficial Guide To Brandon which can be found HERE..


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Diary Update #15

☔  Wednesday March 22nd 2017 ~ With rain in the forecast for this morning and spring migration starting to hot up a few hours in the hide at Brandon Marsh was as good a place as any! In fact it was an enjoyable few hours and produced a couple of Little-ringed Plover, which unlike yesterdays brief visit by a single bird hung around for most of the morning. An increase in Great Crested Grebes, now three and a single Ringed Plover, which was in fact a Brandon year first for me! The injured Goosander appears to be spending most of its time on Swallow Pool but thankfully seems to be feeding well.

Green Sandpiper on Teal Pool at Brandon today!
I've posted the notable sightings for the day on Jeff's site BrandonBirding which can be found HERE

Wheatear at Wolston
After leaving Brandon I stopped at Wolston to check out the gravel extraction, where earlier today Dave Cox and Paul Cashmore had found two Wheatear and two Little-ringed Plover. After arriving an immediate search recorded a commendable six Little-ringed Plover (obviously an overnight influx) but initially no sign of Wheatear! However, with perseverance I did eventually locate two birds but not on the flooded areas, they were in fact on the mud heaps on the opposite side to the footpath!

Wheatear ~ Another record shot from Wolston
By coincidence my first Wheatear sighting of the year comes on the exact same day as 2016 👀


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Diary Update #14

Monday March 13th 2017 ~ A visit to Brandon Marsh produced my first Sand Martins of the year with a single bird over East Marsh Pool mid morning, three more sightings followed! To add to my Brandon year firsts two Redshanks were also noted on the pool, fast asleep along Wigeon Bank. Of interest the visit also produced; (2) Green Sandpipers, (4) Oystercatcher, (6) Snipe, (2) Little Egret, (3) Pochard (3) Goldeneye, (3) Shelduck, (2) Great Crested Grebes, (2) Wigeon, drake Goosander, Peregrine, Water Rail, and singing Chiffchaff! A Brimstone butterfly was also on the wing!

A brace of Grey Partridge at Wolston, Warwickshire!
Thursday March 16th 2017 ~ Worked with the conservation team at Brandon Marsh on the chainsaw and managed to complete my Farm Reedbed Project (clearance of invasive willow from reedbed) in time for the arrival of our summer visitors! On route home stopped at Wolston, finally connecting with a brace of Grey Partridge, recently reported by Paul Cashmore.

Grey Wagtail at Wenchford
☔🌈  Monday March 20th 2017 ~ A Brandon team Away-Day! A thoroughly wet one too in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire! We began at Wenchford picnic area in search of Dipper, which we managed without much effort during last years visit but forgive the pun, dipped on today! The only birds of note while searching were at least four Grey Wagtail.

Hawfinch at Park End by John Osbourne
By the time we arrived at Park End Green for Hawfinch the rain had subsided a little but with the conditions the only birds noted were two high in the canopy, a male a female!

Mandarin Ducks tree climbing at Canop Ponds
With the rain now back to it's heaviest and spirits waning we arrived at Canop Ponds, where only the hardy souls ventured from the minibus. Those that did, myself included enjoyed some classic views of Mandarin Duck tree climbing, remarkably even a pair of Gadwall joining in. Other species of note here: Marsh Tit and Little Grebe.

Drake Mandarin ~ Canop Ponds
Our next adventure was New Fancy Viewpoint and as you can imagine the conditions here were abysmal. After a short stay we abandoned our efforts for Goshawk and decided on a drive out to Ashleworth Ham for reported Green-winged Teal and Garganey. Ashleworth Ham, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust for those who are unfamiliar lies west of the River Severn, on the Ham Road between the villages of Ashleworth and Tirley. This is part of the floodplain and attracts, as you would imagine, lots of wildfowl in the winter. An excellent visit here and can you believe, in glorious sunshine. Sadly another dip with no sign of Garganey but after a short while the Green-winged Teal did show, with most of the team enjoying at least a brief view. Other species included Circa 20 Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, (5) Snipe and a good selection of winter wildfowl, including Pintail.

Tuesday March 21st 2017 ~ A few hours at Brandon Marsh and my first Little-ringed Plover of the year. Plus Caspian Gull and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly on the wing!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Diary Update #13

Sunday March 12th 2017 ~ A completely different day weather-wise compared to yesterday, with the rain just about subsiding as we parked up at Normandy Marsh, Hampshire. We've not visited this side of the Lymington Keyhaven Nature Reserve before, in fact oddly enough this is only our third ever visit to the reserve full stop!

Mediterranean Gulls ~ plenty in the area!
We began by heading north towards the Yacht Marina, pausing to begin with at Normandy Lagoon. A similar selection of waterfowl to yesterday's were on view here and included four more Mediterranean Gulls, which appeared to be displaying, perhaps suggesting that that these birds are regular nesters here?

Spotted Redshank ~ One of three today!
Just prior to the marina one of the smaller pools held Dunlin, several Redshank and single Ringed Plover but feeding reasonably close in one of three Spotted Redshank on offer today.

Mediterranean Gulls seemed to be in display!
For the remainder of our visit we decided on a reverse route which took us inside the seawall along a series of shallow, brackish lagoons connected to the sea through a system of sluices and tidal flaps. After walking Salterns and Oxey Marshes we decided to call it a day on the weekends birding. The only other addition to yesterdays listings were the aforementioned Spotted Redshank, plus a White Wagtail on the pontoons as we left!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Diary Update #12

Saturday March 11th 2017 ~ A birthday celebration for one of Dee's friends down in Lymington, Hampshire this weekend gave us the opportunity to visit Keyhaven Salt Marsh today.

One of a brace of Dartford Warbler at Keyhaven!
Parking at Lower Pennington Lane we took an anti-clockwise route in the hope that by the time we reached the lagoons the morning mist would have cleared. Singing Chiffchaff as we headed along the footpath with lots of gorse to search along the route. In fact after only fifteen minutes the first call of Dartford Warbler and almost immediately two birds were located, one perching briefly for the all important photo!

Common Adder ~ Likely just recently emerged!
Dee noticed some movement along the track while here and to our amazement an Adder was slowly making its way across the path. A passing dog walker was not amused 😁

Rock Pipit ~ One of three today!
Moving on the first of two adult Mediterranean Gulls across towards the lagoons and while checking the pools at the Efford Landfill Site two Marsh Harriers at distance. With the tide in by the time we reached the sea wall most waders were at distance but a flock of circa 100 Black-tailed Godwit were notable. Pausing at Iley Point to look out across the sea, where birds of note included Red-breasted Merganser and several flocks of Brent Geese. A Spoonbill was fast asleep on the Keyhaven Lagoon and as we tracked back to the car, passing Fishtail and Butts Lagoons, a Ruff, heading into summer plumage took us by surprise as he swam past!

Ruff ~ Interesting to find one swim by!
Several Little Egrets and plenty of Curlew, plus the usual selection of waterfowl today, including many Pintail. Other notables included: Stonechat, (5) Roe Deer, (4) Cetti's Warbler heard and a trio of pipits: Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit and Water Pipit!

Monday, March 06, 2017

Diary Update #11

Despite the lack of updates last month, mainly due to other projects I have in fact managed to venture out on several occasions over the past three weeks, mostly to Brandon Marsh. I've worked with the conservation team each Thursday on the chainsaw, trying desperately to complete my project of willow bashing on the top reedbeds before the nesting season begins in earnest, two more sessions will see it through.

🌀☔  Thursday February 23rd 2017 ~ Storm 'Doris' caused a number of issues at Brandon Marsh today with several trees coming down in the gales. One in particular that succumbed was the wonderful ancient Field Maple located at Carlton Hide. Reputedly one of the oldest in Warwickshire I had the task, along with others members of the team of clearing the path on Thursday afternoon, when half of the tree split and collapsed. Horsetail Glade was also badly hit, with several trees downed!

This wonderful Field Maple a casualty of storm Doris!
Friday February 24th 2017 ~ Sadly the remaining half of the Field Maple at Carlton Hide came down overnight and I spent an hour mid morning clearing more debris off the path, along with Alan Boddington.

Monday February 27th 2017 ~ A visit to Brandon Marsh today for a few hours was mainly spent in Carlton Hide. Having considered recent Bittern sightings it appeared that the Brandon bird was a creature of habit, with most sightings between midday and 1pm. This proved to be amazingly accurate, with the bird rising from the reeds at 12.40pm for a short repositioning flight and again a half hour later. It was my first Brandon sighting of the year and so too Willow Tit! With three birds during my visit, two at Carlton Ditch and a third near the River Pool path a short while later.

A brace of Purple Sandpiper at Marine Lake, New Brighton
☀☔  Wednesday March 1st 2017 ~ My fortnightly visit to Liverpool for lunch with my dear old mum, 97 years young and still going strong! A few years back and just across the water I'd visited New Brighton Marine Lake to see a long staying Laughing Gull and had remembered it was also a great place to see Purple Sandpiper. Leaving a little earlier than normal I arrived at Marine Lake prior to meeting mum around mid morning. I wasn't disappointed, with at least seven Purple Sandpipers in among the roosting Turnstone and Redshank. Mainly asleep, there were brief moments of activity allowing for the odd photograph.



Saturday March 4th 2017 ~ A morning visit to Brandon Marsh where I bumped into Paul Cashmore. The highlight had to be three Otters, which Paul spotted initially to the rear of the pool at Carlton Hide. Knowing their usual route we managed to track them past the East Marsh Hide (above video), eventually ending up at the Baldwin Hide, where we managed terrific views of the family (probably mother and two kits) feeding directly below the boardwalk.

Monday March 6th 2017 ~ A glorious spring-like morning with Skylarks singing when I left the marina around 7.45am. Brandon Marsh had the usual selection of waterfowl: (2) Goldeneye, (4) Pochard, single Shelduck, Great Crested Grebe and the long staying male Goosander, which is believed to be slightly injured. Another Bittern sighting over Newlands reedbed at 09:40 and other highlights included: (8) Soaring Buzzards, (5) Snipe, (5) Oystercatcher, Siskin/Redpoll flock and Grey Wagtail on Goose Pool.

Nuthatch busy once again for the coming season!
The above Nuthatch was also busy preparing his nesting site. This will be his 5th consecutive year at this particular site according to my records!