20 August 2006

All purple at Ufton, Napton and Brandon

I took some of my own advice this morning and again broke my normal patch routine.

Having awoken reasonably early (6.20am being, in my book, not a bad effort for a Sunday), I decided to go to Ufton Fields and see if the early-ness of the hour helped me fare better than generally of late.

And lo and behold, it did. I'm not claiming that the place was stuffed to the gills with rare warblers, passage waders and the like, but it was certainly livelier than I had seen it for a while.

Ufton is a difficult place to bird anyway, largely comprising dense woodland and pools with a shortage of obvious viewpoints, as well as a path that follows the circumference of the site, leaving a large interior area in which the birds can remain endlessly hidden.

However, today was pretty good, with 80 or more House Martins twittering high over the site when I arrived, and trees seemingly dripping with young Goldcrest. I was also delighted to find my first ever family party of Bullfinches - two adults and two juveniles, issuing strange wheezing calls which made me think more of grebes than finches.

A Marsh Tit, three Jays and a Kingfisher were among the other high points.

I then moved on to Napton, which apart from demonstrating once more how windy it can be, offered little of note. Time, I figured, for a man of action such as myself to head off in search of... a huge breakfast.

So to Brandon. Sad news that one of the regular faces had passed away, a lovely lady who was always had time for a cheery word as she zoomed around on her electric wheelchair. More glum faces as we learned that Jo, who runs the Badger Tearoom, has been given notice to quit. Surely this is a lousy decision by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. Jo and her breakfasts are one of the high points of the week for many Warwickshire birders (indeed this morning, like many other mornings, they were the only reason I visited). She has built the business up from very little, is the most familar and cheery face for all of us who visit the trust's headquarters, and has probably earned more goodwill for the trust than any other person.

Anyway, back to the nature. Brandon, like Ufton Fields earlier this morning, has gone purple - with purple loosestrife in fact. This spiky purple flower is covering anywhere with a bit of moisture at the moment, and splendid it looks to - as this Mallard photos show.

As for the birds, this was a quick visit after my (excellent) breakfast - two Green Sandpipers on Carlton Pool, along with two Little Grebes, 30 Lapwing on East Marsh Pool, the regular Barnacle Goose (below), a Kingfisher flashing across Goose Pool, and great views of a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

My final sighting of the day was a toad, sitting on the East Marsh track next to a huge dead slug. After last month's frog photos, this was at least a great opportunity to increase my amphibian photographic portfolio.

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