I decided to stick to Shakespeare's County today in an attempt to see a rather elusive Spotted Crake that had been present at Brandon Marsh for the past few days. With the East Marsh Hide completely packed to the rafters I decided to stake out the area from the relatively empty Jon Baldwin Hide instead. Almost immediately the shocking metallic outbursts of several Cetti's Warblers reverberated from different points around the reserve including one right next to the hide. Out on the main scrape 5 European Golden Plover, one of which was in near summer plumage were nice to see as were 3 Little Ringed Plover and 16 Common Snipe. Turning to the skies around 6 Sand Martin fed over the East Marsh and a distant Willow Warbler was heard in song, my first of the year.
After just over a hour of scanning the base of the bird's favoured reeds I was about to opt for a change of tactic, in other words 'throw the towel in'. One last scan however produced a slight movement and shortly afterwards the Spotted Crake appeared and showed well for just over ten minutes. I managed to get one other birder on it and then offered my scope to a steady stream of admirers before the bird disappeared again. It was nice to connect with this species for the first time in a few years, especially after it eluded me during my 'big year' of 2010.
Spotted Crake - Brandon Marsh, Warwickshire - April 2011
Photo kindly loaned by Max Silverman
With the target species in the bag it was then time to take a leisurely stroll around the rest of the SSSI. Other highlights included a Cetti's Warbler showing very well, a pair of Nuthatch mating, 2 singing male Blackcap, a singing Marsh Tit and brief glimpse of a Water Rail.
Please note that this reserve is open to members of the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust only out of the standard opening hours of 10.00am - 4.00pm at weekends and 9.00am - 4.30pm during the week. If you are not a member it will cost you £2.50 to get past the old dears on reception. If you fancy joining the Trust please see the following membership link.