For the final coach trip of the season, we headed for Brandon Marsh near Coventry. This SSSI reserve is managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, and was formerly a gravel extraction site. Bordered by the River Avon, it has a rich, varied habitat with a large area of pools and reed beds, grassland and woodland.

After a miserable Saturday, Sunday morning was bright, sunny but cool as we left the Guild early at 7.30 am. We arrived at the reserve just before 10.00am and were the first in as the doors opened. The main group set off through the reserve and our summer warblers were soon heard, Whitethroats and Willow Warblers being finally spotted. Throughout the day the Cuckoo’s call was clearly heard and we eventually had good views of him from Carlton hide, watching for several minutes as he flew to and fro between two favourite perching points. As well as the usual water birds including Great Crested and Little Grebes, we were lucky enough to see the Green Woodpecker from this hide.

At East Marsh Pool we visited two hides watching Common Terns and Lapwings from one, and Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers from the other. It was great to see these two plovers almost side by side and compare the difference in size and the colours of the legs and bills.

One of the highlights of the day was observing a Canada Goose on her nest brooding two freshly hatched chicks. As they took their first tentative steps away from her and out of range of her beak, Dad appeared. He led them to the water’s edge where they wobbled on unsteady legs and managed their first drink of water. Meanwhile, whilst Mum was turning around one egg in the nest we saw there was yet another egg actually hatching. We were able to get a good look at her nest, beautifully lined with her own downy breast feathers.

Most members headed for the café at some time during the day, and a pleasant few minutes was spent observing the birds on the feeders. This gave us a Great Spotted Woodpecker and the regular visitors of tits and finches.

The group as a whole saw a good range of our summer migrants; of the hirundines, Swifts, Sand Martins and Swallows were seen. As for the warblers, Cetti’s was seen, but the Grasshopper, as usual only heard; Reed Warblers were deep down in the reeds but the Sedge Warblers were perched out and singing well. Of the Sylvia warblers, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Garden Warbler were seen, but with some difficulty. Chiff-chaff and Willow Warbler were also noted.

Our summer visitors were certainly not here in the numbers we saw on our previous trip to Brandon Marsh in 2008, even though we were a fortnight later this year. Perhaps the cold late spring delayed some birds, others perhaps, being forced to stay put in Southern countries by the strong northerly winds which blew volcanic ash over Europe. Even so, it was generally agreed that it was well worth this second visit, and was enjoyed by all members. Our tally of birds for the day was 61. Click on Files to see the bird list.

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