Each year around this time Dee and I like to take in a night visit to Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve near Coventry and amongst other things we love to go searching for Glow Worms. These amazing and fascinating little bio-luminescent creatures are great fun to find. Females have only a few weeks in which to attract a mate and lay eggs. After this, sadly they die. As well as attracting a mate, the glowing green abdomen is also a warning to predators to stay away.
This years visit was also going to be a little different! Over recent years Brandon Marsh has played host on two separate occasions to the amazing Spotted Crake and because of this the reserve has been a part of this years RSPB Spotted Crake Survey, only the second time this has been done. The RSPB survey, organised at Brandon by Alban and Jim from the Brandon team, has been taking place during May and June and having missed out on the previous surveys due to our travels we had arranged for our visit to coincide with the final one.
Spotted Crakes are virtually impossible to see during the breeding season — anyone trying to do so will most likely end up disappointed, and with wet feet — but their distinctive, repetitive ‘whiplash’ call is far-carrying across lowland wetlands on calm nights. Spotted Crakes may call through most of the night, from half an hour after sunset onwards, and in good listening conditions (rare so far this year) may be heard from a kilometre or more away.
Tonight (Monday) was absolutely perfect weather for both events with not a breath of wind and a comfortable temperature of around 18C. On arrival at around 8:45pm Dee and I made straight for the Carlton Hide and here we were greeted by Martin Durkin another Brandon regular, with the words every nature lover wants to here “you should have been here 10 minutes earlier” Martin had spotted a lone Otter at the top end of the pool!
Notwithstanding I like to pride myself on the fact that I have a good working knowledge of the reserve (spending most waking hour here) and I wasn’t too disappointed at this point. Smugly I predicted the path that the Otter may take to reach the nearby River Avon, having surveyed the area a number of times and finding spraint I was quietly confident. Thankfully I was rewarded some 15 minutes later when two Otters took my predicted path, but enough of the self praise just an amazing thing to see, especially for my wife Dee.
Brandon Marsh after dark is such an amazingly different environment and the rest of the evening was just a sheer delight. Orchids, Daubenton’s Bats skimming across Kingfisher Pool, Pipistrelle Bats flying past your ears and the eerie call of a Barn Owl hunting and a Muntjac calling. Sadly, but as expected no Spotted Crake was forthcoming but an end count of seven Glow Worms delighted everyone. (Alban, Jim, Abi, Lee, Martin, Dee and myself. It was also a pleasure to meet Lesley Davis the trusts Ranger from Ufton Fields Nature Reserve)