It was a balmy 8 degrees centigrade when I arrived at Brooklands this morning, and it wasn't raining, luxury! It was more hope than expectation that drove me out today, hope that the sun might come out and give me a chance to take a few pictures, hope that something unusual might have arrived and hope that the air would be filled with the songs of a thousand birds heralding the long awaited arrival of spring. Well the sun didn't come out and nothing unusual had arrived, not that I found at any rate, but it was nice to hear the odd burst of song from a Chaffinch, and the pleasant warble of Dunnocks from the tops of bushes and a song thrush singing it's repeated phrases from the top branch of a small tree.
The footpath round the sunken marsh is a quagmire, there is no choice but to keep your eyes down to watch your feet instead of up to watch the birds, although I did find a couple of Redshank and six Gadwall on the river which was just beginning to ebb from high tide.
Brooklands and Abbey Mead lakes were strangely quiet, the odd small group of Tufties and Pochards, with one or two Little and Gt Crested Grebes, even the Coots seemed few and far between. There were several Bullfinches in the SW corner of the sunken marsh and while I watched them I heard a strange call from the dense undergrowth where the path turns sharply at the bottom of the mound, I stood and listened and heard the same growling type call about five times, I don't know what it was, possibly a Water Rail, but it didn't seem right for that, stop and listen if you're passing, just in case.
I crossed the East Scrub or more accurately the East Flood, and noticed a four wheel drive truck and a bunch of people carrying large black plastic bags milling about near the SE corner, could they be clearing the rubbish from the Water Vole stream where the new fence has been erected?
A quick chat with a chap who looked to be in charge confirmed that this was the case and that it was being done because of the detrimental effect it might have on the Water Voles. I like to think that my chat to the Council last year about this unacceptable mess might have helped a little.
The West Scrub held good numbers of Redwings and Chaffinches, I also saw an obliging Cetti's Warbler, a Kestrel and a flock of at least 10 Greenfinches. A Sparrowhawk over Streamside lake and a Kingfisher zipping down the Millstream contributed to the 41 species that I saw in just over two hours.
And finally....................I found this splendid fungus close to Brooklands lake, any ideas anybody??