Saturday, March 14, 2020

Brandon Week March 9th ~ 15th

It really has been like living in a wind tunnel over the past several weeks, although it has been milder of late. But could there be signs of a more settled spell of weather later in the coming week as an Azores high attempts to take control, thus opening the flood gates for summer migrants perhaps?

Singing Chiffchaff at Brandon on Monday ~ As usual, one of the earliest to arrive.
In the twelve years I've been associated both volunteering and birding at Brandon Marsh I tend to spend more time during migration periods hedge bashing and skywatching. This past week has been no exception finding my first Brandon singing Chiffchaff of the year on Monday with a few more arriving later in the week. Also of note on Monday, a very worn Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was flying around the John Walton hide, another year-first for Brandon.

A very angry male Shelduck snapped after the battle as he flies over the John Walton hide
At this time of year Shelduck numbers usually increase too, with an unprecedented 10 birds (4M~6F) noted today (Saturday 14th) by the Brandon regulars, which may well be a record! The early part of the week saw five birds competing for a single female with a number of serious battles taking place. (see above image)

1st Redshank of the season arrived at Brandon on Wednesday morning.
A regular time at Brandon for their arrival I watched the first Redshank of the year fly in on Wednesday morning, increasing to two birds on Thursday, but strangely no sign since. On the same day, a group of 50+ Redwings were noted at height flying east. It's a fantastic time of year as north meets south! As a sub-note: At dusk on Wednesday 23 Fieldfare past overhead the marina heading east and with the wind finally abating I may finally get a chance to complete some nocmiging (sound recording nocturnal migration) sessions.

3rd calendar year Yellow-legged Gull ~ Brandon Marsh
Yellow-legged Gull departs 
My first Yellow-legged Gull of the year was noted on Tuesday when a 3rd CY bird perched on the goalposts on East Marsh Pool. The same bird was recorded and photographed once more this morning by other Brandon regulars.

Stonechat along the main drive
I had to wait until Friday morning for my first Sand Martins of the year when two flew in, staying over East Marsh pool for nearly two hours before moving off. In fact, Friday was a very productive day with 3 Stonechats, one on Wigeon Bank from the John Walton hide and what looked like a pair along the main drive, spending most of their time around the gorse. A Red Kite also passed at height over Newlands before moving off. Also of interest during my visit 17 Common Gulls.

Muntjac seen regularly on Wigeon Bank
In addition... Five Goldeneye, including a drake, have remained on sight for the week, as too a single Great Crested Grebe and a drake Pochard was around for a few days in the early part. Four Oystercatchers, (with the occasional usurper flying in) seem settled. Cetti's Warblers are very vocal at the moment and are occasionally seen from the John Walton Hide.

Coltsfoot in bloom

Primrose Bank looking the part although it appears to have sunk in the recent deluges