Saturday, 2 May 2009

Blacktoft Sands

I was out early this morning with Steve Holliday, Dee McKeown and Lindsay McDougall for a trip to Blacktoft Sands in Yorkshire.
We took the scenic route on the way and it paid off as a couple of miles away from Blacktoft two Barn Owls were Hunting over the fields on opposite sides of the road.

When we got to the reserve it was fairly quiet for a bank holiday, as we were paying in the visitors centre 2 Marsh Harriers lifted from the reed bed.
We went to the Marshland Hide first where around 50 Avocets were dotted around the water showing the divide between Northumberland and Yorkshire with 4 at Cresswell the other week being a very good sighting for the county.

Also on the water were Coot, Gadwall, Shoveler and 36 Black tailed Godwit, which circled overhead.
A Barn Owl came out of its nest box and began hunting over the reeds. 6 Stock Dove were also flying around.
Around the bushes and reeds bordering the reserve and in the car park were Tree Sparrow, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Swift.

From the Xerox ? Hide two Ruddy Duck and a G C Grebe were on the water along with more Avocets. In total we had 176 Avocets not including the ones flying overhead.
The water level was quite high on all the pools with no exposed mud but despite this, 20+ Black Tailed Godwit were wading through he water with 5 near black Spotted Redshank- Lifer.
I studied the Spotted Reds closely and noticed the grey mottling on their backs, which stood out on the black plumage. One of the birds flew in front of the hide and called to complete the identification lesson.

Marsh Harriers were constantly dropping in and out of the reed bed and there were between 6 and 8 birds in total I could see but they did move around quite a bit so some could have been the same birds.
We didn’t just get brief views, they were dropping from the sky almost like falcons and for the first time I heard one call, it sounded like a Buzzard mewing.
As we watched one land on top of a pile of cut reeds it flushed two Bearded Tits- Lifer, which I just caught sight of but not long enough to identify if the sex.

A Buzzard and a Peregrine were high up in the sky and a Sparrowhawk flew low over the reeds.
Two little Egrets landed on the pool next to us after flying across from the river.

After leaving the reserve we headed to Swinefleet Common to look for Dotterel. 6 yellow Wagtails were around, mainly on the road as was a Wheatear and a Whinchat which disappeared once we stopped to, look for it.
As we were going down one of the roads we heard a set of keys jangling which was the song of a Corn Bunting – Lifer! It was in a bush on the roadside and after some hard searching I finally saw it. I have always wanted to see a Corn Bunting and it didn’t disappoint, a top bird, what a beak!
It’s a bird I’m sure I’ll struggle to see in Northumberland.
It stayed in the bush for a while before flying into the ditch; another was on a wire in the next field.

On the way home we called into Saltholme after hearing out about the Spoonbill.
We tried back Saltholme first but no sign, it wasn’t on Dorman’s or Reclamation Pond either.
Nothing out of the ordinary was about apart from a couple of Common Terns, my first of the year.
Finally we checked Arcot Pond where a Sedge Warbler- patch tick, was in the row of bushes, south east of the pond.

Once again another good day out and I feel like I’m starting to learn a lot more about all aspects of birding.

93 – Sedge Warbler


Killy Birder said...

Blacktoft is a favourite reserve of mine and as you suggest can throw up species which a far less common a little further north. Nice one with the Corn Bunting, once heard never forgotten. Sounds like a good day. Cheers Brian.

Newton Stringer said...

Hiya Crammy

If you want to look for CB I have a day put aside at the end of May for this, I'll be walking around the sites that had records in the last couple of years and some likely looking spots in between... drop me an e-mail if you're interested...


Vanellus said...

When we came to Northumberland in 1990 we always saw Corn Buntings on the telegraph wires between Cresswell Pond and Druridge Pools. I cannot recall the last time I saw one there, but i'm sure it's over 10 years ago.