"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

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.


Toffeeapple said...

Those Robins will be asking for Model Release forms soon. You did see a lot didn't you?

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeapple - LOL! Perhaps I should have asked them to sign one :D! Brandon Marsh is brilliant - lots to see at all times of the year.

Rohrerbot said...

Sexy Robin shots!!! Nice closeups on this little bird:) American Robins vs Your Robin:) is like the a green giant to a little fairy. Very different looking birds with the same name:)

Ian said...

great photos of the robins (very appropriate for "Ragged Robin") and looks like it was a very productive day of birdwatching.

Ragged Robin said...

Chris - many thanks - I've googled Amercian Robin and see what you mean!

Ian - many thanks, glad you like the photos. It was a good afternoon out - my favourite nature reserve!

Pete said...

hi RR

lovely shots of the Robin - they are great aren't they!

nice selection of birds seen.

The American Robin is a thrush. When the settlers saw it they called it Robin after the bird they knew in Robin - the red front

Ragged Robin said...

Pete - many thanks. I think robins are probably my very favourite bird!

I was chuffed with the pintail and goldeneye!

Interesting info about how the American Robin got its name - I gather European Robin is now classed as one of the flycatcher family!

ShySongbird said...

Hi, I have visited your blog before from time to time so thought it was becoming rude of me not to comment and tell you I have enjoyed your posts :-)

I haven't been to Brandon but would like to, it is about an hours drive from me so maybe with the longer days coming I will be able to before too long.

You have some lovely photos, it does seem like a nice place to go. What a little poser your Robin was!

I particularly very much enjoyed your Edith Holden post, coincidentally I looked my old copy of her Country Diary out recently too, such a delightful book :-) and for you to retrace some of her steps must have been magical!

Ragged Robin said...

Hi Shy Songbird

Its lovely to hear from you and thank you for becoming a follower. I often visit your lovely blog and am so glad you feel well enough to start blogging again as I've missed it.

I hope you manage to visit Brandon Marsh - its well worth it! It takes me about 40 minutes to get there which is why I do not visit as often as I would like! If it were a bit closer I would be visiting weekly :D.

I'm really glad you enjoyed the Edit Holden post - as you say the book is delightful. Hopefully I'll visit some more of her haunts as the year progresses.