26th & 27th of May 2012.

WWT – Brandon Marsh.

Species seen 69.

After a week off work due to illness, it was great to get over to Brandon Marsh for a few hours this weekend.

Reports continue to come in following the loss of the male Barn Owl which was killed by a fox during the week. Many of my Birding buddies and myself included, have photographs of this bird and it’s a complete reality check that when we’re in the field, its “Wildlife” we go out to watch!
I did manage the above shot of said bird a few weeks ago and was pleased to learn that the female Barn Owl has been out hunting.

Notables seen were Hobby, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard,Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Ring Plover, Little Ring Plover, Sandpiper, Redshank, Dunlin, Cuckoo, Kingfisher, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow, Sedge, Garden and Reed Warbler.

19th of May 2012.

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust – Brandon Marsh.

Species seen 61.

An afternoon visit in mixed weather conditions of mostly dull cloudy skies.

Reports of a Wood Sandpiper were the reason for today’s visit. Talking to some of the regular birders soon had me locating the bird from the Teal hide. It was great to see this Sandpiper as they have an RSPB amber status, with only four to eight nesting birds in Britain a year.

While in the hide there were also three Redshanks, two Shelducks and a female Mallard with ten chicks!

Other notables seen were a male and female Red Crested Pochard, Hobby, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Sedge, Cetti’s, Willow and Reed Warblers, Cuckoo, Oystercatcher, Little Ring Plover, Ring Plover, Blackcap and Whitethroat.

While walking through Horsetail Glade a Peacock Butterfly and a Large Red Damselfly were also seen.

8th of May 2012

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust – Brandon Marsh.

Species seen 58.

An evening visit in glorious sunshine soon turned out a few great year ticks.

Notables seen were, Male & Female Red Crested Pochard, Nightingale (at last)! Hobby (first of the year) Sedge, Cetti’s and Reed Warbler, Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Shelduck, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Common Tern and Linnet.

Cue the Jaws music?
There was also three Mute Swans on East Marsh Pool, the biggest saw off the two younger birds and in the process chased them over the pool and unfortunately over the nest sites of Lapwings and Canada Geese. To their credit, the Lapwings tried in vain to peck at the Mute Swans to steer them away from their nests! The older and larger Swan eventually had the pool to itself. The two Swans were later seen from Carlton hide enjoying some peace and quiet.

5th of May 2012.

Christchurch Bay & Hengistbury Head – Dorset.

Species seen 32.

Hengistbury Head in Dorset is a significant and absorbing nature reserve because of the numerous varieties of habitats situated within such a small area of just 160 hectares. Habitats include grassland, heath, woodland, scrub, ponds, water meadow, saltmarsh, reed beds, coastal cliffs and Christchurch Bays tidal waters.

There are more than 500 plant species, 700 moth species have been recorded and reptiles are thriving, these include the rare Natterjack Toad, which can be seen in the head’s ponds.

The geographical position of the headland makes it a natural point for watching the arrival of migrant birds and insects from the continent. For many this is the first land seen since leaving their wintering grounds. More than 300 bird species have been recorded here, which include regular sightings of Dartford and Cetti’s Warblers, both have been seen here on my visits, you usually hear the Dartford Warbler before you see it and today we did indeed hear one, however sadly didn’t see it!

Hengistbury Head is a site of international importance in terms of its archaeology and is listed as an Ancient Monument. It has been occupied on several occasions since the Stone Age. During the Bronze Age the site was used as a cemetery with burial mounds. During the early Iron Age, man developed the area in to a site for industry, leading on to a port settlement for trade by the end of the Iron Age. Today it is a favoured spot for birders, walkers, water sports enthusiasts and holiday makers.

Today’s weather was dull, cloudy and windy, perfect for walking, but not so good for birding. However it was still clear enough to see the nearby Isle of White.

Notables seen were, the above Robin, Little Egret, Artic Tern, Common Tern, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Lesser Redpoll, Wheatear, Skylark, Whitethroat. The highlight was hearing a Dartford Warbler; however, it proved elusive as we didn’t catch sight of it!

Also of note were the several hundred Mute Swans, high numbers of Black headed, Lesser black backed, Great black backed and Herring Gulls.

2nd of May 2012

Draycote Water – Thurlaston.

Species seen 35.

Took a walk after work along the Farnborough straight to the hide and back. Water levels are slowly beginning to rise following Severn Trent’s’ exercise of pumping water from the river Leam. The islands are now under water and Toft corner has water covering it. Reports are continuing to grow of many visiting birds. Last visit saw thousands of gulls roosting, this time hardly any were seen, which was probably due to the many sailing dinghy’s out on the water. Birds of note were Wheatear, Pied, White and Yellow Wagtails, Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Redpoll, Kestrel, Little Gull, Swift, Swallow, Sand and House Martin.

1st of May 2012.

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust – Brandon Marsh.

Species seen 25.

An early visit from 6.30am – 8.30am in dreadful weather with only one hide accessible due to flooding on all of the west side of the reserve, I recorded very few species. The rain was heavy but it didn’t deter the many Swallows, House and Sand Martins, as they were everywhere. The first Swifts of the year were also seen which was worth the visit. Not surprising there was no sight or sound from the two Cuckoos seen recently.

Looking to the islands there are quite a few nesting birds that are now well into the incubation periods which means their offspring will soon be out and about on the pools.
This Swallow was caught catching flies over the water.