On Tuesday we were due to travel to Alkborough Flats, but I discovered it was bone-dry, so we switched to North Cave Wetlands instead.
The first part of the walk was quiet, until we got round the back of Crossland Hide. Along the edge of the water were 3 waders. One was clearly a Redshank, but what were the other two birds? One was clearly much larger than the other and was very pale underneath with orange legs, but was less elegant-looking than the Redshank. The other bird was almost half the size, and had a beige wash all along it’s underparts. Both birds had strikingly-marked upperparts. John D realised that they were the same species, but one was an adult male in non-breeding plumage, and the other was an immature female Ruff, sometimes known as a Reeve.
On Wednesday because Alkborough was still out of water we went to the recently-partially-reopened Tophill Low. Roughly about half of the complete reserve is open at the moment. The area north of the Reception hide is completely out of bounds, as is the southern part, including Watton Borrow Pits.
In the car park a Treecreeper was heard calling. On the walk up to the visitor centre we saw a large group of Long-tailed Tits, and possibly some Goldcrests. From the reception we saw far too many Coots, plus Tufted Ducks, Pochard, Great and Little Grebes. However, the highlight was a female Goldeneye, which stood up and flapped her wings. North Lagoon was dry and bereft of birds. South Lagoon contained a good amount of water, but the only birds were some Unmentionables and a family of Little Grebes - two parents and one well-grown chick. ‘O’ reservoir was quieter than expected with Tufted Ducks and a Cormorant. South Marsh East was the best site with Anthony’s Green Sandpiper, 70+ Lapwing, Anthony’s Snipe and lots of Teal with a single Heron. We saw three disorientated Redwing, which eventually flew off north, with a Great Spotted Woodpecker above them. Throughout our walk we heard several Cetti’s Warblers, including some obviously rusty individuals.
On Thursday we went ahead with Paull Holme Strays as planned. The am session was a women-only class; whilst after lunch only those of the male gender turned up.
In the morning after a very high tide, it was just starting to retreat as we began. There was a Curlew on the water’s edge, but after lunch this had been replaced by a Whimbrel. In fact it was our longest ever encounter with that species.
In the morning, as soon we reached the reeds, we could see there had been an extremely high tide, as it had reached parts of the reserve I hadn’t seen it reach for years. There were several Stonechats on different scattered brambles and bushes. These had disappeared without trace in the afternoon. We didn’t see last week’s Skuas, but there were many more waders than last week. These included Dunlin, Bar-Tailed and Black-Tailed Godwits and Elaine spotted some Grey Plovers. There were 4 times as many Shelduck as last week. Birds of prey included an immature male Kestrel and a Buzzard.
On Friday two sadly depleted classes met at RSPB Blacktoft Sands. A very sunny morning was forecast, but after the early morning mist cleared it was grey and windy. We went to Marshland first, which we subsequently learned was the best option. A small group of Spotted Redshank were hunkered down on the remains of a tiny island. There were plenty of Teal, a few Shovelers, Gadwall and a Wigeon feeding on the grassy bank. A male Marsh Harrier flew over the reeds and flushed some Dunlin into our pond. However, they soon flew off again.