29th of March 2012.

Species seen 56.

After arriving home from work, I checked the garden to see if any birds were feeding on my feeders or on the ground etc. These were all seen within a 15 minute period.
House Sparrow pictured below chirping in the front garden, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Robin, Greenfinch, Wood Pigeon, Starling, Blackbird and Magpie were all seen in the back garden. Above and beyond the garden was a Buzzard high on the thermals.

WWT - Brandon Marsh.

I arrived at 6pm for an evening visit; it’s good to be able to walk the reserve at this time now that the nights are drawing out. Starting my stroll in Horsetail Glade, I saw Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Tree Creeper, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie and Wren. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that was reported still evades me!

On to the hides and there was not a great deal of activity, the notables were, 2 Little Ring Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, 6 Oystercatchers, a Swallow, a Sand Martin and a great many Snipe and after plenty of searching the reeds having heard a Cetti’s Warbler, I eventually managed to catch sight of one to the right of the Carlton hide.

Whilst in the Carlton hide again I caught up with some fellow birders to share stories and enjoy the banter. Beyond the Carlton hide the new reed beds screen has been finished, the team of conservationist and volunteers have created the beginning of what looks to be a future haven for a great many birds, mammals, butterfies, moths, insects and amphibians.  I really hope that at some time in the future a new hide will be built here? After scanning the area for a few minutes my attention was quickly brought to the nearest Owl box, where perched upon it was a fabulous Barn Owl; it didn’t stay long and in the quickly fading light it was soon off towards the golf course in search of food. A most enjoyable visit.

Saturday 17th of March 2012.

Cathiron & Church Lawford, Warwickshire.

Species seen 24.

Taking the back roads to Brandon Marsh I stopped off at some of my regular locations to view the fields and wooded areas. Skylarks were aplenty and very vocal in the fields, Buzzards were high above and 50 plus Golden Plover were seen in one of the recently turned over fields. Both Red Legged Partridge and Pheasants were also seen. Parking alongside the Oxford Canal I walked for a short distance taking sight of Mallard, Moorhen, Blue, Great, Willow and Coal Tits, Chaffinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and this obliging, yet very speedy Nuthatch.

Brandon Marsh – WWT, Warwickshire.
Species seen 52.

Arriving in late afternoon and parking in my usual area, I was immediately drawn towards a Dunnock singing in the thorn bushes and Lesser Redpoll up in the trees. Once signed in, my first stop was Horsetail Glade hoping to maybe see all three of the UK’s Woodpeckers. Sadly none!
Checking in at the East Marsh hide produced three Mediterranean Gulls along with Common, Black Headed, Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gulls.The Mediterranean Gulls were very busy, up, then down, then in flight, then down again and were constantley chasing the other Gulls away from Tern Island. One thing of note is, I can't say I've seen such whiter gulls before than these.

Other notable birds, Goldeneye, Shelduck, Snipe, Cormorant, Oystercatcher, Widgeon, Teal, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Great Crested Grebe, Canada and Greylag Geese.

Birds heard, but not seen were, Chiffchaff, Cetti's Warbler and Water Rail. 

My last stop was the Carlton hide where I met up with local birders Paul and George, it’s always good to learn from other birders and as usual they had plenty of tips and stories to share.
I stuck it out until it was almost dark and was rewarded with a close fly past by one of the Newlands Barn Owls.

Thursday 15th March 2012.

Nuneaton - Jewels of the Gambia – Digital Lecture.

We spent a most enjoyable evening in Nuneaton attending a digital lecture from friend and work colleague Ashley Grove.  Ashley has captured the beauty of many of Gambia’s birds in his position as tour leader for Focus4Nature, the wildlife photographers’ tour company. His “Jewels of the Gambia” lecture was an insight in to his recent February tour. His presentation proved to be a great success with countless images captured throughout his two week tour.

To view the Ashley Grove Wildlife Images website, click on the link above.

This event was organised by the Nuneaton & District Birdwatcher's Club, a special thank you to all of the members who made us feel most welcome and Mr. Lees who ensured we left with details of the club and all their up and coming field trips. Time to check my diary for their future trips and meetings.

12th of March 2012.
Species seen 33.
Priorslee Lake – Telford – Shropshire.
Before working today in Shropshire a coffee stop was a layby next to Priorslee Lake in Telford situated just off the M54. Whilst waiting for a call from my colleague, I took a few minutes to view the lake which was covered in a very grey mist. Birds seen were Mallard, Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Herring Gull and Black Headed Gull. That was it and a day of business quickly then took over!
Draycote Water – Rugby.

Arriving as the sun was slowly setting, a quick walk along the Farnborough Bank produced 33 species of bird, the notables were; Small flocks of Meadow Pipit, Fieldfare and Redwing. On the water, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe, and a huge amount of Gulls, Black Headed, Lesser Black Backed, Herring and Great Black Backed. There must have been 10,000 plus birds on the reservoir and as it got dark there were plenty more arriving.

7th of March 2012.

Today’s Milestone.

Since starting my blog at the beginning of the year, I have been amazed at just how many hits it’s been getting. Today marks my first “Milestone” as to date; I have now received over 1000 hits to my blog. What’s also great, is tracking the Countries these have come from. The majority are from the UK, however, others are from the USA, Canada, Russia, Germany, India, Ukraine, Brazil, Africa, Italy and France.

One of the places I visit regularly is Draycote Water Reservoir near Dunchurch in Warwickshire. Therefore here’s another milestone, the London to Holyhead landmark in Dunchurch which I pass on route, which reads, London 79 miles and Holyhead 178 miles, now you know why I call this blog “Central Birder” as I live right in the centre of England.

Meanwhile closer to home the bird sightings in my garden today were Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Starling, House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, overhead and beyond the garden were Carrion Crow, Black headed gull, Lesser black backed gull, Kestrel and up on the thermals a Buzzard.

4th of March 2012.

WWT – Brandon Marsh.

Species seen 51.

On a really wet and windy day, before entering the reserve with my better half, we enjoyed lunch in the busy Badgers café, a real plus, were getting a window seat to watch the feeders while enjoying our lunch.

While out in to the dreadful weather and completely dressed for the elements, we decided an afternoon in the hides was our best option; therefore we made our way from one hide to the other.

Notables seen were Goldeneye, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Snipe, Pintail, Shelduck, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Oystercatcher and Kingfisher.

Our final hide was the Carlton hide where it was very quiet, a few Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Moorhen and Coot. Suddenly a Bittern was seen dropping in to the reeds, here began our patient wait to see if it showed?

An hour later to our surprise we saw a Little Egret cross in front of the hide on route to East Marsh Pool. I’ve seen a great many Little Egret's in Devon and Dorset and only one in flight before at Brandon Marsh, so this was a good bird sighting for the day, however it was not to be the best!

Seconds later, I saw what looked like a reed coloured post in the middle of the clearing, the bins confirmed a fabulous Bittern in full show, slowly it was striding along the grass towards the dead tree to its left. Looking up and keeping completely still like a statue, the Bittern, found itself being stalked by a Pheasant. The said Pheasant was moving rapidly towards the Bittern and looked menacing and at this point our Bittern took to the air and flew past the hide and off towards the river Avon.

The visit ended with a superb dark blue sky beyond the Newlands reed beds and the brief sunlight highlighting the reeds and pools made for an impressive view.

1st of March 2012

WWT – Brandon Marsh.

Species seen 33.

A late afternoon visit arriving at 5pm with still reasonable daylight, saw the following notable sightings, Mediterranean Gull, Curlew, Goosander, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe, Pintail, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Snipe, Widgeon, Pochard and Shelduck.
The main reason for today’s visit was to hopefully see some Barn Owls, as I’ve not seen any since October of last year. The weather was ideal for Owls, warm and still reasonably bright. While making my way to the Carlton hide, overhead in the trees was a flock of Long Tailed Tits making their usual noises along with a singing Robin and several Grey Squirrels.   

Once seated in the hide an Owl was soon spotted, the unmistakable sight of a Short-eared Owl really wasn’t expected, as it was Barn Owls I was looking for. These birds are truly magnificent in flight with their bright yellow eyes and powerful leisurely wing beats. Then, within 20 minutes a Barn Owl appeared and quartered the reed beds, twice coming right in front of the hide. Everyone really enjoyed this brilliant half hour of “Owl-fest”. While leaving the reserve a Tawny Owl was also heard.

On a day when the first UK sighting of a Swallow was announced and Sand Martins yesterday, who knows what I’ll see the next time I visit Brandon Marsh?

Both these photographs were taken by local birder Paul Huddleston some time ago and are therefore used for illustration purposes.