Friday, 11 June 2021

WkWT Brandon Marsh :: 06 June 2021

I'd been wondering whether to go out on Sunday morning - chatting to Kevin Heath we decided that we'd meet up and try Warwickshire Wildlife's Brandon Marsh. We agreed a meet at 5.00am on the north edge of Banbury and set off from there. As is normal this time of the morning, the road was covered in woodpigeon and magpies. Unfortunately when passing a flock of woodpigeons on the verge, one of them made a very late decision to take to the wing and flew right in front of my car - so much for being a nature lover ☹.

We used the member's entrance and set off round Grebe Pool and through New Hare Covert - here we encountered a family of great-spotted woodpeckers and a pair of jays. We also stopped to watch a European hornet buzzing around an old dead tree - what a sight and a brute it is.

European hornet

Once passed the golf course on our left, we looked out over Alban's Reedbed and could see the source of the distant cuckoo calls. There was also a kestrel in a high branch of a tree. Cetti's warblers called but only showed as the darted off. The cuckoo worked it's way in parallel to us but stayed distant. I have seen cuckoo in a large leafless tree near the bench as you turn for the Wright Hide - we moved back to take pressure off, hoping for a landing there but with no luck. We popped into the Wright Hide and after a short while we could hear that the cuckoo had moved much closer and went to investigate. While not on the tree we’d hoped for, there were first two and then three cuckoos that flew past, splitting into a single and a pair.


Back in the hide we looked out at five little ringed plovers running around the scrape. Kev picked out a kingfisher amongst the species on view, but I didn't latch on to it. In the distance two shelduck dropped in briefly - the first either of us has seen this year - strange but true. While good to view there was nothing else of particular note, so we set off down the track.

Little ringed plover

We stopped at the Badwin Hide and I hoped to pick out the kingfisher as this is a favourite spot but didn't. Of particular interest was a pair of oystercatchers that were protecting their three chicks - so cute. It was quite comical watching the three chicks all trying to squeeze together under the adults.

Oystercatcher with chicks
Oystercatcher with chicks
Oystercatcher with chicks

On from here we stopped at the East Marsh Hide, joining three other occupants. From here we could see all the same birds but on our side of one of the islands a rather independent lapwing cick was feeding on the water's edge. We watched for a short while and as nothing appeared to be changing, we set off to the hides further out on the trail - to the very end (Ted Jury Hide).

Lapwing chick

We were accompanied by one of the guys from the earlier hide and we chatted establishing he was one of the conservation volunteers for the reserve. Kev had previously played on the golf course adjacent to the reserve and it was a surprise to hear that the local Council have decided to close it permanently pending any interested buyers. We could see a couple of cuckoos in distant tress and regular flypasts from green woodpeckers. We willed the cuckoos to stop on the dead tree out in front of the hide, mostly occupied by stock doves. A couple of redshank flew past landing far to our right.

Green woodpecker

Sedge and reed warblers fed in the short reeds occasionally showing clearly enough for a photo.

Sedge warbler

We watched on as the cuckoos moved around in the distance and eventually, we had a closer pass that allowed an attempt at a flight shot - not too bad given the grey clouds and threat of rain. Given that one of the target species for the day had been cuckoos, they delivered in spades.


We headed back, taking in the Mick Taylor and Steetley Hides with Kev spotting yet another kingfisher that I didn't see. The rain started to fall, and we made for home - a nice morning out and a first visit here for Kev. A new member for the Trust secured!

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