"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

Friday, 12 May 2017

A Long Overdue Visit to Brandon Marsh NR (SSSI)

B and I spent the afternoon recently at Brandon Marsh NR. It is my favourite nature reserve but for one reason and another I haven't visited for ages - not quite sure really how I have managed to stay away for so long!

The reserve is the headquarters of the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and contains a Visitor and Education Centre. It covers 92 hectares with 10 main pools, 8 bird hides and over 220 species of bird have been recorded here. It is next to the River Avon and has developed over the last 10 decades as the result of sand and gravel extraction and mining subsidence. This wetland reserve has pools, wet and dry woodland, marshes, grassland and reedbeds.

This is the Sensory Garden at the rear of the Visitor Centre.

The path onto the reserve winds its way through Hope Wood (a memorial wood). Cowslips and Hawthorn were flowering.

There are many paths you can follow on this reserve but we began by making a circuit of Grebe Pool where we saw the first of many butterflies - Peacock, Speckled Wood, Comma, Orange Tip and Small and Green-veined White. I took the Canon bridge camera with me for a change thinking the zoom lens would come in useful but I failed to get one photo as the butterflies were very active in the sunny, hot weather.

We made a detour to New Hare Covert to see the bluebells. This small woodland has Oak, Ash, Scot's Pine and Larch.

My first damselfly sighting of the year - unidentified!

and back to the path to complete the circuit of Grebe Pool.


We spent some time watching a pair of Blackcaps and Blue Tits busy feeding young.

Goose Pool

We continued our walk past Central Marsh with

Marsh Marigolds in flower and

there are still Primroses on Primrose Bank

A Tern Raft (and yes there were Common Terns) and island on East Marsh Pool as seen from the Jon Baldwin hide.

Great Crested Grebe on nest

On along the path that skirts Central Marsh - plants in this area include Common Reed, Reed Sweet-grass, Pond Sedge, Common Reedmace and Teasel.

View over meadows towards the church at Ryton-on-Dunsmore.

We spent some time in Carlton Hide which overlooks the Newlands - a large reedbed with open water and pools.

Along the path to the newest hide we saw Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat. There were a lot of warblers in among the reeds but it was difficult to get good enough views to be 100% sure of id.

From the Ted Jury Hide you can see the Osprey platform - erected in the hope that one day this species will nest on the reserve.

Birding highlight of the trip for me was a pair of Goosander seen from the East Marsh hide as we stopped off on our return to the Visitor Centre.

Sir David Attenborough opened the reserve in 1998 - we were fortunate to attend and the children managed to get his autograph. He is as charming and delightful in real life as he is on tv.

Tea and cake in the tearoom - sorry forgot to take a photo of the cake itself but it was Coffee and Walnut:)

Full list of birds seen - Blackbird, Robin, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Wigeon, Canada and Greylag Geese, Chiffchaff, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Tern, Oystercatcher, Cormorant, Coot, Moorhen, Lapwing, Great Crested Grebe, Mallard, Grey Heron, Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls, Common Whitethroat, Swallow, House Martin, Mapgie, Wood Pigeon and Goosander.

Bumble Bee species seen - Tree, White-tailed and Common Carder and there were loads of Bee Flies about.

It was so good to return to this very special reserve and I hope we won't leave it as long between visits in future!

By the way is anyone else having problems uploading photos to Blogger? I've found it has been playing up recently but today it was at its worst every time I uploaded one photo and tried to do the next Blogger crashes with the message "Aw snap something went wrong....." or words to that effect!


Rosie said...

This looks like a super nature reserve with so much to see and you saw some wonderful birds, butterflies and wildflowers during your visit. I was interested to read about the Ospreys as we've just come back (today) from North Wales and where we stay is close to the Glaslyn Osprey project. I was lucky to see one on its nest through the telescope. Is Ryton-on Dunsmore near Ryton Gardens? We visited there a couple of times with friends, a few years ago but haven't been there for ages. One of my earliest memories is of seeing a young man in the corner of a hall with lights shining on him and a snake around his neck. I once told my Mum about this memory and she said 'Oh, yes, I remember it was David Attenborough at the Granby Halls which was at the top of the street where we lived in Leicester:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks so much Rosie. I do hope you had a good holiday - it certainly sounds as if you stayed in a lovely location. I've read about the Glaslyn Osprey project - so glad you saw one. It is so wonderful the way the species is recolonising areas. I think there is a chance they might nest at Brandon - I saw one there one autumn - it stayed for a few days while on passage. The best views we had though were in Scotland - we did see them at Loch Garten but then discovered they were nesting on Loch Insh right by where we were staying!

Yes Ryton-on-Dunsmore is very near to Ryton Gardens. I've been a few times twice with a friend and once with my son and husband. The gardens are lovely.

What a wonderful story about your childhood and seeing David Attenborough :) Did you ever read the Zoo Quest books? I read them all many years ago. OH bought me Life on Earth and got it autographed by DA at a book signing but I have only ever met him once at the Brandon Marsh opening. If you are ever in the area Brandon Marsh is a lovely reserve and well worth a visit.

Deborah RusticPumpkin said...

What a wonderful visit! The next best thing to being there with your great selection of photographs. Sir David is an absolute National Treasure, isn't he? I can't imagine him being anything other than a perfect gentleman. Coffee and Walnut is almost always my cake of choice when out and about ~ perfect with a cup of tea!
About Blogger issues, no, I haven't noticed anything, but will let you know if I do. ~~~Deb

Ragged Robin said...

Deborah RusticPumpkin Thanks so much - glad you enjoyed :) Yes, I agree about Sir David - a wonderful man and totally irreplaceable! If I could pick just one person to meet and talk for an hour it would be him :) Thanks re: Blogger. Not sure whether it is a problem with me and Blogger or perhaps a dreaded Windows update!

Pam said...

How nice you got to meet David Attenborough! It's a beautiful place and I do like sensory gardens! :) Blogger has been fine for me, maybe it's just been a little glitchy!

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thanks Pam. Can't believe its nearly 20 years since we met him - where does the time go!!! Sensory garden has been re-done I think a few years ago. Have had a thought about blogger - it could possibly be the advert blocker we use which doesn't like pop-up boxes. Will try disabling it temporarily when I next do a blog post and see if that makes a difference!

Bovey Belle said...

What a lovely reserve. We keep driving near the Slimbridge turn off when we go to auction at Wotton in Glos, but sadly it is always on the way home and we have miles to go before we sleep . . .

Great photos and I am envious of the Grebe one - I've never seen one.

Ragged Robin said...

Bovey Belle - Thanks so much. Yes Brandon Marsh is rather special :) Such a shame that it is difficult to stop off at Slimbridge being so far from home - it is well worth a visit if you ever get chance. Haven't been for years - keep saying we will go again!

Midmarsh John said...

You do find some lovely places to visit.

amanda peters said...

Wow this such a wonderful place, have enjoyed looking round with you and your photos are great.

How cool to meet David Attenborough, so nice he is as nice in the flesh and not just on TV, like some TV stars.

The Goose pool photo is stunning..
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Midmarsh John - Thanks John. Have been going to Brandon Marsh for about 30 years now - sadly, not as often these days.

Amanda Peters - Thanks so much Amanda - its been a long time since I did a post on Brandon Marsh - you would love it there :)

Yes meeting DA one of the highlights of my life!!! :) He was so lovely with the children (as they were in 1998!!). Met Chris Packham once too again with the children in search of autographs - at a Rockwatch event on Dinosaurs in Oxford - he was very nice too.

Millymollymandy said...

Just checking in - read this whilst having lunch in the Moho! Sounds like a great place and I'm envious of the goosanders. Not seen any in over a decade and they are one of my favourite birds. And fancy forgetting a photo of the cake! :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thanks so much for the comment Mandy - lovely to hear from you :) Sadly, goosanders a long way away hence no photo even with the Canon! :) lol re: cake will remember next time :)