Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Blacktoft Sands...

I spent the morning at Blacktoft Sands, another RSPB reserve, a few miles from Goole on the south side of the Humber. I thought I might be gazing out over tidal mud-flats, but no: the reserve was mostly fresh water and reedbeds. I settled myself down in the Ousefleet hide, with a few other people… and an interesting variety of birdlife. The star of the show was a female red-necked pharalope (a new bird for me), a tiny wader no bigger than a skylark. It was in perpetual motion: wading, swimming, feeding and preening, and keeping out of the way of bigger, more aggressive birds. Even the ducklings were bigger! It was fun to point out the pharalope to the people who came to the hide; it wasn’t easy to spot.

There were two spotted redshank (yet another new bird for me), wading elegantly in the shallow water. They were joined by a flock of twenty black-tailed godwits. Marsh harriers hunted over the reedbeds. There was talk of a montague’s harrer, but I didn’t see it. I must have been in the hide for a couple of hours - watching birds, comparing notes, listening to conversations.

No-one mentioned the avocets, nesting on the little islands. Twenty years ago, they were very rare. To see one you might have had to go to Minsmere, where a few pairs were encouraged to breed. But now they’re plentiful… or, rather, they’re plentiful in their preferred habitats. It’s the same with marsh harriers; I’ve seen them wherever there have been reedbeds. I finished the morning with sightings of bearded tits, and the explosive song of Cetti’s warblers… another bird that has become more plentiful in recent years. There were about a dozen little egrets too.., suggesting that climate change is altering the distribution patterns of so many birds… 

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