So phase one of our five-week trip began with the 7 1/2 hour drive down to Warwickshire on Monday, which was to be fair pretty painless.
|Garden Warbler ~ My 1st year tick of the day.|
Tuesday 26th was spent at my old stomping ground Brandon Marsh where I met up with a few of the conservation team for a walk around the reserve and a good catch up. I have to say that the place is looking in good shape with plenty of habitat improvements since I left a couple of years ago. My first tick of the day was a singing Garden Warbler and by the time I reached the Wright Hide I was already up to 10 year ticks, with most of the Warblers yet to appear back home they all seem to have arrived at Brandon. Even a Canada Goose, was a welcome tick!
|Cetti's Warbler ~ A species which well established here is yet to colonise as far north as Aberdeenshire|
I'd also forgotten how good the place is for certain species such as Water Rails and Cetti's Warblers the latter of which I was easily into double-figures by the end of the day.
The pools held nesting Oystercatcher, Redshank, Snipe, and at least four Little-ringed Plover and the reedbeds were alive with singing Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler (another Aberdeenshire rarity) and reeling Grasshopper Warbler. A Cuckoo was also constantly on the go appearing occasionally at the top of one of the few remaining high dead trees on Newlands reedbed! A Kingfisher was also a welcome sight darting back and forth across the main pool.
The woodland areas have always been a delight at Brandon and an enjoyable walk produced Treecreeper, Green Woodpecker, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler but unfortunately and indeed unusually not the hoped-for Nuthatch, another Aberdeenshire scarcity.
|Green Hairstreak on the 'Tip' area|
A memorable day and other highlights included a Muntjac Deer, Weasel and with the afternoon warmth came Orange-Tip butterflies and a single Green Hairstreak.
|Hobby over Brandon Marsh|
The best was left until last when just prior to leaving in mid-afternoon a report of 2 Hobby over the reserve enticed a few of us back from the cafe for a look. After what seemed an age we finally made contact, my first in a couple of years and despite the height of the bird and bright sunlight I actually managed a half-decent photo!