Wednesday, 8 September 2010

A Stint at Blacktoft

Little Stint (c) 2010 Aileen Urquhart
Ruff (juvenile) Curlew Sandpiper
Ruff & Curlew Sandpiper

Bringing the classes forward a few weeks appeared to pay dividends today. We've not been to Blacktoft Sands in September before, but we saw plenty there. We went to Marshland hide first where we were immediately rewarded with extremely close views of several juvenile Ruff, and a few Curlew Sandpipers - the first we'd seen anywhere this year. A couple we saw still had remnants of the red breeding plumage, but most were juveniles. We'd probably been in the hide 15 minutes before the most unusual sighting dropped in - a Little Stint landed just in front of the hide. This was a species new to many present, as it is several years since we've encloutnered this species - last time at Paull Holme Strays. Some Dunlin were nearby & the 'students' were able to discern the much shorter bill on the Stint, and the relatively small size - even in comparison with a Dunlin. I managed to spot a Bearded Tit here, but no one else was able to get on to it before it disappeared. Also seen from this hide were: Teal, Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, Redshank, several Meadow Pipits & Pied Wagtails, but most of these birds disappeared when a very tatty female Marsh Harrier flew over.

Even Xerox was quite interesting with Snipe, Shoveler (eclipse), Gadwall (eclipse), and closer views of some of the waders seen earlier. A Yellow Wagtail was also present. A Great spotted Woodpecker was spotted on a couple of occasions - this is a fairly recent colonist of Blacktoft, and hardly ever used to be seen here in previous years. First hide was probably the least interesting, but even here we had Ruff, Green Sandpiper & a Greenshank. Townend was better with Spotted Redshank, a juvenile Water Rail, and the closest views of any of the waders - Marshland had almost dried out, so the waders kept to the further water, instead of coming as close, as they had been a few weeks ago. Singleton was excellent for waders (6+) Curlew Sandpipers, a similar number of Spotted Redshanks, at least 3 Greenshank, (20+) Dunlin, and also had plenty of Herons & Little Egrets. A male Marsh Harrier flushed several of the birds during the afternoon.

After lunch one of the RSPB volunteers kindly allowed all class members to look through his telescope at the Little Stint which has relocated with a couple of Dunlin towards the Visitor Centre. The afternoon was mainly a re-run of the afternoon, but we saw a blue Pheasant, and the Wood Sandpiper at Marshland was a new bird for the day. The Bearded tits were really frustrating at Singleton, as they clould be heard throughout our visitor, but only Sue got a good albeit brief view of one through her telescope.

The East coast has rewarded watchers with plenty of migrants in the last few days, but Blacktoft is excellent for waders for those who prefer them to passerines.

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