Friday, 6 August 2010

12 Lifers

Marsh Harrier (male) - archive picture
Marsh Harrier - female - archive
Ruff - adult male
Ruff with Redshank (left)
Ruff (juvenile)
Wood Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Spotted Redshank - left how we saw them today - archive picture
Black-tailed Godwit - archive picture
Snipe - archive picture
Little Egret - archive
Little Egret - archive
Stock Dove squab
Today I met up with 2 new young clients from Sheffield for their first ever visit to RSPB Blacktoft Sands. Our journeys didn't take as long as any of us had anticipated, so we were able to start 15 mins before the actual opening time. Our first port of call was Marshland, which is often the best hide for waders at this time of year. High tide is best for higher numbers of most species, and we arrived at low tide, so we weren't overly optimistic, but we were rewarded with good sightings of Snipe, Ruff (juvenile), Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Lapwing, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank and bog-standard Redshank. There were also a few Teal in eclipse. Daniel hadn't brought his binoculars so he was able to look through some state-of-the-art Leicas. He kindly agreed to carry the scope, so we got better views of many of the waders and the feet & thighs of 2 Barn Owls in the next box opposite to us, than we would have had if he hadn't offered to carry it. A female Marsh Harrier flew past us just above the reeds a lifer for David & Daniel. The most frustrating things here (apart from the shy Barn Owls) were the calls of the Bearded Tits, all around the reeds here, but they refused to come into the open, although we did manage to see a Reed Warbler.
We went on to Ousefllet hide, but this had dried out, and we didn't add many new species here, although a Yellow Wagtail and a Linnet flew over. Outside the hide David dissected a Barn Owl pellet to reveal the skull, bones and fur of a vole or mouse. The ID of this is to be checked!
On the return journey to Xerox David spotted a Marsh Harrier flying low over the fields, and this time it was a stunning male.
Xerox was fairly quiet with a few waders, plenty of Teal and an elusive passerine feeding among the Lapwings. First Hide seemed deserted, but we did see our first Green Sandpiper here. At Townend we saw a pair of Shoveler (in eclipse), and a much better view of a Greenshank. 2 young Magpies were outside the window and a young Marsh Harrier flew very close to the hide, which flushed all the Lapwings and Black-tailed Godwits, but a white adult Ruff had flown off earlier. The best thing here though, was a beautifully dappled and elegant Wood Sandpiper, which eventually walked right in front of the hide, but it's only possible to take record shots at this location, as the hides are set too far back from the water!
At Singleton, the final hide, we identified at least 5 Little Egrets, and plenty of Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits and single Green Sandpipers & Greenshanks. We had to watch our footing as many of the paths had tiny frogs hopping around. On a sad note David spotted what seemed to be an injured Stock Dove in the car park. Overall it was a very fruitful visit with David observing 12 lifers today, taking his year list to 83, which is close to a personal best. David & Daniel were pleased with their visit to the reserve, and intend to revisit it at different times of the year to appreciate the full range of species which utilise Blacktoft throughout the seasons.

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