It was the second consecutive day of warm, spring sunshine with clear blue skies and I could resist temptation no longer. So this afternoon I jumped in the car and drove over to Brandon Marsh for a couple of hours.
I saw my first lambs of the year gambolling around their mothers in a field during the journey and a pair of buzzard soaring near the entrance to Brandon Marsh.
The reserve was quieter today and it looks as though the bitterns have moved on - there doesn't seem to have been a sighting for a few weeks and the hides were a lot quieter!
I lingered for quite a while in Horsetail Glade again looking for lesser spotted woodpecker and nuthatch - neither showed but I haven't seen any reports of the former being seen at the reserve yet this year. Still I can't complain after my sighting near Ladywalk NR late last year.
I spent quite a while in the John Baldwin Hide overlooking East Marsh Hide. Some species came quite close to the hide so I was able to take photos with the new telephoto lens - some are better than others but overall I am quite pleased as the camera was handheld and the camera and lens are without IS.
Canada Goose - easy to photo as they are so large!
The reserve holds large numbers of Coot
Lapwing/Peewit - not the sharpest of photos but I love the way the picture shows the colours
It was lovely to see a pair of great crested grebe in all their breeding finery. They even indulged in some courtship display with lots of head shaking. No photo of this as I had just turned off the camera and put on the lens cap!
The ringed plovers are back - there were a couple on Willow Island although far too far away to attempt a photo.
Highlight of the afternoon was watching a group of mining/digger bees excavating nest holes in a sandy bank. Although they are solitary bees, if soil conditions are ideal many bees will nest close to each other. Each female digs a burrow to raise her young. The burrow holes are about 6 mm in diameter. I am not sure of the exact species but I think there may have been two as several of the bees were about half the size of the others.
Clicking on the photos to enlarge them will reveal more detail.
I saw a couple of treecreepers whilst walking along the path to East Marsh Hide
I had spent that long entranced with the mining bees behaviour that I didn't have time to visit Carlton Hide so I just popped into East Marsh Hide where I could see 3 snipe on the far bank and took a few photos of tufted duck followed by a pair of teal.
I walked back to the Visitor Centre via New Hare Covert and around the back of Grebe Pool seeing several rabbits.
Several primroses on primrose bank had buds and I also saw a dandelion flower.
I added six new bird ticks to the year list today - great crested grebe, gadwall, ringed plover, wigeon, treecreeper and snipe and managed to see 27 species. To be honest the number of species seen is not that important as Brandon Marsh is my favourite reserve and I visit just to enjoy nature and recharge batteries. Its a pity its not closer to home as I would go every week!
If I can ever resist the temptation of visiting Brandon Marsh there are several other places in the vicinity I really would like to visit this year. Ryton Organic Gardens is very close and a bit further on are Ryton Woods a semi-natural ancient woodland and Ryton Wood Meadows - a Warwickshire Butterfly Conservation reserve. A bit further on is Draycote Water which I have never visited.