Wednesday this week was much better at RSPB Blacktoft Sands than last Tuesday, but only after a very shaky start. In Hull the bridges had been raised for river traffic, plus there had been an accident on the Daltry flyover, and finally the A63 was slowed down by 5 massive French TV vehicles heading West.
Bearded Tit (c) 2014 Aileen Urquhart
Doing the Splits
The group congregated first in Xerox hide to view the Spotted Redshank, and here there were also 4 Herons, a Pochard and some Teal. We headed over to Marshland hide were I'd just missed an Avocet chick nearly being plucked from the island by a chancer of a Hobby. We stayed in here for a long time trying to see something, but it was a bit quiet. However, eventually I heard some pinging from the far right window of the hide, and this began to increase in volume, until we saw about 5 birds heading in our direction - it was a whole family of Bearded Tits. They remained in view for 10 minutes or so, allowing even the slowest binocular-wielder to observe these beautiful birds at close quarters. In the afternoon a pair of Spotted Redshanks dropped in until they were chased off by Avocets protecting their chicks. Later, a Snipe also flew through, but didn't settle.
We went to Singleton next, where the best bird was a female Marsh Harrier with a central tail feather missing. Rather unusually she perched on the edge of the reeds for a considerable time, before actually disappearing into the reeds. Her presence ensured that a family of 2 small Great Crested Grebe chicks made their escape. There was the odd thing flying over, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Marsh harrier (c) 2014 Aileen Urquhart
At Townend things were a little quiet before after we'd been in there some time a male Male Marsh Harrier emerged from the reeds to our left and flew low over the water disconcerting a group of Lapwings on the only island. Min front of Townend a Willow Tit was making its nasal 'tchay-tchay-tchay' call and we eventually obtained decent views.
First hide was very poor, so we headed back to the Visitor centre, and here we saw a sunbathing Magpie, plus a very obliging, but harassed Sedge Warbler searching for food for its family. We were going to go on to Ousefleet hide, but I saw the time and realised that we wouldn't have got time in the available minutes.
The morning finished, but only after the session had been rewarded with amazingly close views of both Bearded Tits and the male Marsh Harrier.