Tuesday, 6 March 2012
Robins Galore at Brandon Marsh NR
At lunchtime yesterday I headed over to Brandon Marsh NR - my first visit this year. Brandon Marsh, situated to the east of Coventry, is the headquarters of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and a flagship reserve. It consists of a mixture of habitats - pools, reedbeds, grassland and scrub, mature woodland and wet woodland and willow scrub. I spent a couple of hours at the reserve - although it was sunny and spring-like there was a very cold wind and I was glad of my gloves.
After walking from the Visitor Centre through Hope Wood, I made my way to Horsetail Glade first of all. This is often a good place to see Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but I wasn't lucky today and, in fact, I haven't read of any sightings yet this year. There were lots of blue and great tits and a few long-tailed tits about.
Part of Horsetail Glade
As I walked through woodland along one side of Goose Pool there were loads of tame robins about - many singing away, like the one in the photo below, to establish territories.
This particular individual was the tamest of them all
A view of part of Goose Pool
As I walked past Primrose Bank there were several primrose plants coming into flower.
Normally Jon Baldwin hide is very quiet and its where I usually manage to get some photos of duck species as they approach the hide closely but today it was heaving with photographers taking pictures of the goldeneye (both male and female were present). My 70 - 300 telephoto couldn't compete with the massive 500 mm lenses on show but here's a record shot of the drake!
Oystercatchers have recently started to arrive back at the reserve and one flew onto a nearby island but the real highlight for me was a kingfisher skimming low over the water with the irridiscent blue colouring gleaming in the sunlight. There were a pair of great crested grebes about but I didn't see any sign of courtship displays.
I carried on to the East Marsh Hide - here's a view of part of East Marsh Pool from the hide
and was thrilled to see the drake pintail (a male and female have been present for at least a week) - a new year tick and a new species for my Brandon Marsh list. Too far away again to photo so another record shot
There wasn't much to see from Carlton Hide which overlooks the Newland Reedbeds so I retraced my route
and came across yet more tame robins. I believe lots of people take food and mealworms - you don't really need a telephoto lens to take photos. I quite like these shots even though there were twigs in the way!
I love the way the robin is puffing out his chest here in a territorial display either at me or more likely yet another tame robin just behind me!
I just had time to walk around the back of Grebe Pool before returning to the visitor centre spotting a pair of bullfinches. There were lots of grey squirrels
and rabbits about.
Following the reintroduction of water voles to the reserve late last summer I did keep my eyes open - but no sign of any today.
Twenty eight species wasn't a bad total for a couple of hours and kingfisher, cormorant, goldeneye,oystercatcher, shelduck, pochard, pintail and lesser black-backed gull were all new species for the year.
Finally, a photo of a row of cute recycling frog bins that line one side of the courtyard at the visitors centre.