Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Brandon Marsh :: 29 March 2011

Reports of the visiting spotted crake reached me while I was at work on Monday. "Damn" I thought - it first showed just 1½hrs after I left on Sunday. It was apparent that after a quiet day the crake had been active late in the day at around 1835. Up then at 0530 this morning to have a peek and hopefully add it to the list. A 40min drive and a short walk later I joined about 10 people in the East Marsh Pool hide. Eager to see the bird, I just joined the vigil. A few tens of minutes later it became apparent that a fox had paraded around the reeds and the front of the hide about 10-15mins before I arrived. So that is why it was so quiet for that next hour!Sunrise over Brandon Marsh

Unfortunately another 40mins drive home and I was ready for work, having missed this spot. Checking the boards the spotted crake did show later, at least on three occassions. Damn again.

Beautiful sunrise over the misty pool though.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Brandon Marsh :: 27 March 2011

Ailsa on the keyboard again!

To start today we got up early and left the house without even having breakfast. The clocks had changed and so it was even earlier than the clocks suggested. It was not as sunny as we would have expected for this time of year when the daffodils are starting to blossom. We had planned another visit to Brandon Marshes but first we went to Rugby to search for waxwings. We have been reading a man's blog (onemanandhispond) where he spoke of waxwings around Lawford Lane - I would love to see them but unfortunately they couldn't be found during the hour we wandered around. We did come across a bear - no it's not what you are thinking, it's just a pub on Bilton Lane!

As I said, we didn't get to see any waxwings, but we did see these birds which weren't repeated at Brandon Marshes: song thrush, green woodpecker, kestrel, yellowhammer, rook, starling and house sparrow.

After spending an unsuccessful hour in the cold morning air we arrived at the warm cosy Brandon Marsh visitor centre. By then it was half past ten and we were all starving. We snuggled up in the "Badgers Tea Room" and had three full cooked breakfasts and a ham and cheese panini, which we all enjoyed. The teas, hot chocolate and coffee weren't too bad either.

After the nice hot beverages, we went back out into the cold again and started our trek round the reserve. We visited every single hide on the way and found a new species of bird for our list in every hide.

We spotted our record number of birds in a single day at Brandon Marshes. Our highlight bird was a new bird we had never seen before, a Cetti's warbler which we only just got a picture of, through the reeds. You can only see it if you look really carefully. Even the sun came out before we packed up to leave - not before another drink and a slice of cake! To sum it up, a record breaking day.

We spotted 43 species on the reserve this time, including: greenfinch, reed bunting, feral pigeon, chaffinch, coal tit, great tit, blue tit, bullfinch, woodpigeon, dunnock, Cetti's Warblerrobin, great-spotted woodpecker, greylag goose, nuthatch, goldfinch, carrion crow, willow tit, canada goose, jay, buzzard, coot, tufted duck, sand martin, mallard, lapwing, mute swan, shoveler, teal, oystercatcher, snipe, ringed plover, moorhen, great-crested grebe, wigeon, black-headed gull, long tailed tit, wren, cetti's warbler, gadwall, goosander, shelduck, pheasant and blackbird.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Brandon Marsh :: 19 March 2011

This week Ailsa is the guest blogger!

Just as the weatherman promised, it was a stunning day. After our journey we popped into the "Badger Tea Room" to get refreshing hot chocolates and a latte to start off our day at Brandon Marshes. Surprisingly, looking out the window, there was no sight of the usual nuthatch which we were very disappointed about.

Whilst in the East Marsh Pool Hide, we noticed that the lapwings were using their warning call. We soon found a sparrowhawk dragging down a lapwing into the water; the sparrowhawk was too strong for the little lapwing and soon drowned and ate it.

Near the end of our long walk we found a Robin perched on an branch. I held out my hand not expecting the robin to fly towards me; I got a little bit scared and I took my hand away, so sadly it flew back on the branch. Only if I had been braver we could have got a beautiful picture of the robin on my hand, but we did get a stunning picture of the robin on a branch. I never knew how loud robins could sing. Well you do learn something new everyday.

Walking back to the centre we found a couple of rabbits and also some at the roadside when we were driving out of the car park. All in all a wonderful visit yet again to Brandon Marshes.

Our spots included: magpie, carrion crow, greylag goose, blue tit, robin, great tit, feral pigeon, chaffinch, dunnock, reed bunting, coal tit, woodpigeon, buzzard, canada geese, long-tailed tit, mute swan, mallard, coot, Chiffchaffkestrel, great-spotted woodpecker, tufted duck, teal, lapwing, shellduck, black headed gull, shoveler, wigeon, common gull, blackbird, great crested grebe, black backed gull, oystercatcher , snipe, sparrowhawk, redpoll and chiffchaff which came to 36 species. Our highlight bird was the redpoll and sadly no bittern, but we returned with a beautiful snapshot of a chiffchaff.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Brandon Marsh :: 05 March 2011

Our original plan was to make our first trip to Draycote Water, inspired through reports from a blog we have been following by Richard Mays; "One man and his pond". Music school, dropping off the wife for a tennis match and a poor forecast prevented us from following this plan though. A full circuit with impending drizzle didn't inspire the kids.

Instead, off we went to Warwickshire Wildlife Trust's Brandon Marshes in Coventry. As usual we had to make a pitstop on arrival, this time for hot chocolate with marshmallows - you've got to start somewhere! It did give us a view of the feeder fom the windows of the tearoom, and the opportunity to listen to some of the photographers discussing a pile of photos they were purusing - nice lenses in evidence!

Out we went before the weather drew in, into what turned out to be quite a nice walk. Taking our normal route, we quickly ended up in a hide with the aforementioned photographers who were stationed hoping for the pair of great-crested grebes to start dancing; while we were there they were disappointed, but it didn't deter them from knocking off a few shots.

On we went, missing out most of the hides but making sure we dropped into the East Marsh Pool hide where we spotted the bittern from on our last visit. Not this time though!

We again kept a list of our spots, which this time totalled 37, including: magpie, great tit, blue tit, reed bunting, woodpigeon, chaffinch, Nuthatchdunnock, feral pigeon, blackbird, nuthatch, goldfinch, long-tailed tit, tufted duck, mallard, robin, coot, black-headed gull, canada goose, great-crested grebe, mute swan, cormorant, pochard, shoveler, greylag goose, grey heron, lapwing, moorhen, common gull, wigeon, gadwall, snipe, shellduck, pheasant, teal, carrion crow, green woodpecker and wren.

The top birds of the day have to be the small group of snipe we found at the East Marsh Pool hide, but our favourite photo of the day was the cheeky nuthatch which we photographed through the visitor centre's tearoom window.