Brandon Marsh Thur 27th Jan

OK, I've been allowed out again, gentle exercise they said.....

So I made good use of my new 24hr access to Brandon Marsh, going in before opening time, but after sun up, trying out the new extender and my new jacket, which I fell in love with the pockets as soon as I put it on.

They are proper pockets, not tiddly things for a pair of gloves or keys, or other tiddly items. The breast pockets are big enough to fit most bird and wildlife ID books, the lower side pockets, I could fit a small packed lunch in and I have started to investigate the inside pockets yet.

I think in total, 13 pockets inside and out!

It was still very cloudy when I arrived, as per forecast, though sun had been promised, and it did arrive, but I wasn't deterred, it was an opportunity to see what life is like there before opening to the public, and the first sighting was a muntjac, though no photo, it scarpered once it clocked me....

I as a little surprised the hides were still open, but relieved, because there is so much foliage that it isn't always easy to get a view across the pools, and with the wooded area being so quiet, not even a robin or blackbird, but I could hear the pools were active.

The fist hide, all to myself, so I set the tripod up to play with the new 2x extender, knowing that AF doesn't work when it coupled to the lens, at the first photos were a great white egret, and from what I later found out, a newly regular visitor.

At 400mm using AF

at 800mm using MF

All the usual waterfowl on the pool, from here, unless specified with 800mm before the photo, all taken using the 100-400 and no extender, 

Mr Tuftie

Mr Pochard

Another Mr Tuftie, with weed hanging from the bill!

Could have wiped his mouth before coming up....

On my way to the other hides, the path is often frequented by chaffinches and goldfinches, but the light was against clear identification, so I was pleasantly surprised at getting a clear photo, goldfinches by the dozen in the trees overhead

The snipe were showing well and very active right in front of the same hide as they have been since last November

Splish splash

I was long in the bath....

A shovelor with head above water, gliding graceful past, an opportunity to play again with the extender

More snipe. Talking to a couple of others in the hide, we reckoned there would be around 30 or so snipe just below the hide.

Without any warning, out comes a water rail!

After a trip to the Badgers Tearoom, for a cuppa, it was back to the hides and see if the kingfisher was going to show. As yet at this point, no one had seen the kingfisher...

Guess what, neither did I....

But there were still others to see, like this little egret in the trees

at 400mm

at 800mm

and 800mm cropped

Whilst scanning the pool, I spotted a headless cormorant!

A shovelor that was bragging after seeing off two males!

A cormorant, not the headless one earlier, that was still on the post, headless....


That you making that noise?

Am gettin' oud a ere....

A pair of shoveleos doing what shovelors do....

Mr Teal



The headless cormorant has found its head!

Mr Gadwall

Finally, a black headed gull created a lot of discussion in the hide, is seems to still have summer plumage, or possibly making an early start on the summer plumage.

Because of the distance away from the hide, the extender was used and the image heavily cropped, pushing the boundaries and a good test of clarity, I don't think even with AF it would have been any clearer, certainly not at 400mm.

800mm heavily cropped

Other species seen, goosander, M+F,  shelduck, mallard, mute swan, reed bunting, lapwing (they seem to be ten a penny at the moment), canada geese, coot, moorhen, grey heron (seen flying over with large branch in beak, most likely nest building), to name a few, but NO robin, blackbird, blue tit, all three of which are usually commonplace.

They must have gone camera shy, not wanting to get picked out by the extender... 

A good day out, and new toys tested.


Flickr Peak Rambler

  • Looked a super day Mike, with super toys. Excellent clarity on those "extended" shots.... and how lucky were you, Water Rail (still on my not seen list) and Snipe (still on my only seen 100+ yards away list!)
    I'm sure one of those unexplored internal pockets could hold a flask, so no need to leave the hides for the cafe!!

    Thanks for sharing :o)

    ps What's that about 24hr access? How'd you wangle that? (Have I missed a post somewhere, like you picked a wardens pocket, got a key to the gates cut and then snuck it back into his pocket, before he realised it was missing?)
  • Looks like an excellent bit of gentle exercise and mobilisation ;) So many Snipe and I have to say Mr Teal is looking glorious. I think your Black-headed Gull is getting a head start on Spring - we've spotted a few here going on an early change

    Cin J

  • Very nice set Mike and lovely to try out your new extender giving you good reach and that handy jacket with so many useful pockets - as long as you can remember which pocket has which item you need !. What a bonus to get the wonderful shot of a water rail as they rarely show for long (exception was "Walter Rail-ey" at Leighton Moss who used to come to the call for mealies. LOL Thanks for the post with piccies :)


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Hi Mike,

    Another wonderful insight to somewhere I've never been and a great selection of photos. Favourites for me would be the Snipe and Water Rail, not seen either for a while.

    Thanks for posting,


  • Another nice day you had out Mike...easy does it!! Just aswell it was the camera and all the gadgets that done the hard work lol

    The Snipe is such a lovely bird and that's the 1st time I have saw a Cormorant swimming other than the one that photobombed one of my pics a couple of weeks ago!

    Thanks for sharing ;-)

    (Pardon the Scottish Accent)

  • Looks like you had a great day Mike, you have some lovely photos there, I liked them all, But the ones that stood out for me was the cormorant that’s got it’s eye on you, the teal and the little egret, the water rail and the gadwall and the snipe.
    Well done you.
  • Good to see you got out and about Mike, just be careful, love that Water Rail we hear them quite often but consider ourselves lucky to get a view like yours


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • I think there really good. my favourites you took when you went there Is  the cammerant great egret Little egret goldfinch and black headed gulls I get the Black headed gulls  at the canal in Autumn and winter nearby so I get to take pictures film and watch them develop there plummage until they get there black heads so I have found out a lot about them. The one in the photo they were talking about I have seen that at the canal nearby aswell. And even taken photos of them some of them develop there plummage earlier or later depending on lots of factors one of them is the timeing each one was born. Weather one was born before or after or at the same time. On the 12 th March 2021 at 12:56 Gloucester and Sharpness canal. only one black headed gulls developed a hood and the rest were in there 1st winter or were still winter adults for example. If you want to see the photos of them I took go to this link.
    The one in the photo you took looks more like it’s developing into its summer plumage and with how much of a hood it’s developed so far it’s likely it will of developed it before Spring/ Summer or at least by Spring/ Summer. I think Your a very good photographer. And I hope your enjoying the Big garden Birdwatch.

  • Successful day Mike, great pics, all those Snipe must have been a wonderful sight. Such lovely looking birds. Love the cormorant and all the waders really, you are doing your new gear justice, don't overdue it yourself, especially with the new jacket and so tempting to fill up all the pockets!!!

    Lot to learn

  • In reply to gaynorsl:

    I know what you mean about not filling up the pockets too much, Chris bought me a winter weight Paramo in 2020 and I'm still finding pockets I never realised were there


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can