Brandon Marsh nature reserve is an important site for wetland birds and was designated a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) in 1973. Since 1989 it has been managed by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trusts and various voluntary groups. A former sand and gravel quarry, it’s located just south of Coventry in Warwickshire and has 92 hectares and lots of paths to explore – great for adventures!
Total distance traveled: 94 miles
Total time at the wheel: 2 hours
Packets of square crisps eaten: 8!
Website: Brandon Marsh SSSI Nature Reserve
We’ve been planning to visit Brandon for a while, ever since Alli found about it last year. Seeing blue skies this morning for the first time all week, and feeling the need for some fresh air and to get in a bit of wildlife spotting, we threw the binoculars and a bird guide into the Ratmobile and headed out.
The first stop as always was the cafe as a good cuppa was calling. Alas we had a bit of a wait for our tea and coffee due to some staffing issues, but the staff were very nice and the filter coffee I had was well worth the wait. To my mind anywhere that still sells decent filtered coffee these days deserves a special Templeton award for awesomeness. Anyway I digress, the upshot of the drinks delay was by the time we got out onto the reserve, the blues sky had gone to be replaced by a hail storm – thankfully short lived.
The reserve is a wonderful mix of ponds. lakes, marshes, reed beds and woodland. As we walked the winding paths through the trees and the ponds, the birds chirruped in the trees, with spring in their hearts. All the usual suspects were there, Tit’s, Finches, Robins and the ever present Pigeons, all flitting about, getting on with their business, oblivious to the interlopers below them looking up. It was a lovely sight, as was hearing our first Chiffchaff of the year, freshly back from Africa and calling for a mate (I don’t know where they get the energy after flying all that way).
Having been defeated by one path through the marshes (we could have done it with wellies!), we retreated up a beautiful side track to sit in a quiet hide and eat our lunch, a lovely Morrison’s do-it-yourself salad bowl (always good). We sat looking out over a stunning little lake and its residents, soaking in the peace.
Refuelled, we set off again and just as we reached a clearing, the heavens opened to bring down more hail! Hardy bunch that we are, we carried on walking regardless. Later the woods, marshes and ponds gave way to much bigger lakes, with more winding paths threading between them, giving lovely views of the wonderful mix of water birds that have set up home here for the summer.
There were the usual swans, geese, and ducks mixing with gulls and waders of all kinds. The Oyster Catchers made us laugh with their funny run, whilst the Cormorants, looking like throwbacks from the age of the Dinosaurs, awed us with their massive wings, drying in the sun.
The lakes were beautiful, surrounded with reed beds and sparkling in the sunlight. As we walked further along they turned into a huge wetland reed bed full (according to the information panels) of wondrous wildlife, most likely skulking in its depths. Alas we failed to catch a glimpse of an Otter or hear the boom of a Bittern, but it was enough to know they were there (probably).
The path back to the visitor centre took us through another stunning woodland with yet more promise of lovely wildlife (and another Chiffchaff) and paths to explore – we vowed to return.
In the end, cold but happy we set off for home, with only the Grumpy Positioning System trying to lower our spirits. Obviously deciding that we were ignoring it again, it threw its toy’s out of its pram and did its best to take us far out of our way – probably via Dubai. As always, we ignored it…