19 August 2007

Bold bright bird colours at Brandon

The brasher and more brightly coloured birds were in evidence at Brandon Marsh near Coventry this morning.

Jays squabbled in a tree near Carlton hide - pinks, blues and blacks evident despite the distance. From a few branches away, a Hobby watched on. Normally this is the most boldly marked of the raptors, with bright red 'trousers' contrasting strongly with yellow feet. But this appeared to be a juvenile bird, muted and streaky.

A Kingfisher flashed by, an electric-blue lightbulb streaking along the water. Sadly for the watching photographers it did not stop to perch - neither on the specially prepared branch nor the "No Fishing" sign that has been recently erected - surely with an amusing Kingfisher photo in mind.

Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers appeared, an adult and a juvenile. Normally these would be considered boldly-marked birds in their own right, but as is so often the case, they were put firmly in their place by the spectacular greens and yellows of a noisy Green Woodpecker.

On the East Marsh Pool, scores of Lapwing tumbled and fought, their strange calls echoing around the reserve. And a lone Green Sandpiper bobbed around the Teal Pool - although not brightly coloured, this is a wader which reveals a brilliant flash of white on its rump as it flies.

But despite all this colour and mayhem, my favourite bird of the morning was almost certainly the most discreet, with its pale brown, cream and black plumage designed to help it disappear into the mud and reeds whenever it so wishes. In fact there were five of these hidden beauties, Common Snipes feeding with their long bills on the edge of Teal and East Marsh Pools.

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