Once you have visited Brandon Marshes you have to congratulate Warwickshire Wildlife Trust for creating and maintaining such a wonderful reserve, with so many different habitats to explore. Woodland, pools, marsh areas, reedbeds and grassland. Seven hides are situated where you can appreciate the different birds using the reserve. And we can’t fail to mention the coffee shop with big windows affording great views of busy bird feeders, which attract Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Siskin and Reed Bunting as well as the usual suspects.
The reserve is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and boasts 2 km of paths for the wandering bird watchers to enjoy. It is hard to believe that you are just a few miles from Coventry, and that the site was used for sand and gravel extraction until the 1980’s. In fact this extraction still goes on adjacent to the reserve but you soon forget it is there and ignore its noises.
On the day of our visit the weather started cool and misty but cleared and warmed up later so we were able to stay in the hides for a long time without getting cold. We spotted 53 different birds including some of my favourites like Bittern, Snipe and Kingfisher. We were privileged to see two Bittern in flight close to and were able to appreciate their wonderful colours and markings. The Snipe were present in good numbers spotting groups of 12 and 9 whereas Golden Plover and Lapwing were present in very large numbers. A real surprise was the number of Bullfinches around the reserve. We reckoned we had seen more on that day than the total for the last 5 years or so. A flock of 8 were feeding close to the path just 100 metres or so from the hide and a second feeding group of 5 were seen after another 50 metres walk along the track.
Ducks and gulls of course were present in large numbers. Among the usual Blackheaded and Herring Gulls we spotted two rarities, a Glaucous and a Mediterranean, both firsts for us.Tufted Ducks and Teal were the most numerous with Gadwall, Pintail and Goldeneye the most unusual.
The next two photos show a male “Tufty” who obligingly stayed above water between dives to allow me to take a shot, but the Teal proved oh so different. He never stopped feeding resulting in lots of failed pictures.
Between hides we walked through woodland and along the edges of reedbeds and marshy areas. On a bank we spotted clumps of Primroses growing in profusion, with a few in flower. We could only imagine how wonderful they would look in a few weeks time.
In a marshy area with small trees and bushes we were delighted by the lichen on the branches of the trees and these rich red fungi growing close to a tiny trickle of water.
Returning to the car at the end of the day the sun was getting low in the sky and backlit this oak leaf to give it the look of burnished copper. We promised ourselves a return visit when the summer migrants have arrived.