Friday, 18 June 2010

A Spoonful of Silt Makes the Medicine Go Down


There's no doubt that the star bird at Blacktoft Sands yesterday was the Spoonbill. This was a new species for some, and it was certainly the nearest I've ever seen this bird. I've seen them many times before here, but they've nearly always been fairly distant, and more often than not spent the whole time huddled up, with their distinctive bill carefully concealed. Unfortunately, the Spoonbill wasn't there in the morning, and it's arrival at Marshland seemed to coincide with the high tide. Also at Marshland were 6 Spotted Redshank, 5 of them in spanking breeding plumage, with just one in the far more drab non-breeding colours. There were also several Black-tailed Godwits, most of them in remants of their breeding colours. There was also one Green Sandpiper, which was harder to see, but it's not as attractive to look at as the other species. There were Bearded Tits calling in the reeds near almost every hide, and they did come into the open a couple of times, but glimpses were fleeting, and some failed to see them at all. Marshland was certainly the most interesting hide to see the birds, as the wing & feet of a Barn Owl could be seen in the door of the box, whilst another hunted over the bushes. A Snipe was also preening itself all day to the left of the hide. Highlights from other hides included a second summer Little Gull among the Black-headed Gulls at Xerox in the afternoon, and Marsh Harriers viewed from almost every hide. It was heartening to see quite a few Little Grebes had survived the winter here, and there was also a Great Crested Grebe at Singleton. We failed to see the breeding Bittern, which sadly is apparently the only bird of that species breeding in the North of England this year! Again on the downside, the marvellous weather brought out hordes of visitors, who really should have been tending their gardens, so it was quite difficult finding space in some hides, so goodness knows what it must be like at weekends in decent weather - oh, I forgot, decent weather & weekends don't go together!

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