The Leviathan awakes!

Blacktoft Sands

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Charlie's Blacktoft Blog

I'm the visitor experience officer at Blacktoft Sands

The Leviathan awakes!

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There's no doubt that the last few weeks have been a little slow here on the Sands, but off course bird migration always goes in fits and starts and its amazing how a quiet spell can so suddenly turn around to some fantastic birding as has happened over the last three days!

Lets start with the change in fortunes of the waders with a peak of seven curlew sandpipers and still three feeding on Singleton lagoon today. What was very interesting was the colour ringed bird that Jason one of our regular visitors pointed out to me yesterday, and with a bit of careful photography I managed to read the combination for him so that he could submit the sighting to the colour ringing scheme in Norway where it was ringed! Amazingly efficient it seems the Norwegians are with the info already sent to me today, the bird was ringed 26 days ago as a juvenile at Makkevika, 1053km away! The bird will have been on passage from further North into the arctic circle. 

Here's a few pictures of the curlew sandpipers (called the Tundrasnip in Norway, such a nice sounding name), always a nice wader to see. 

And the colour ringed individual - digital cameras are excellent for reading colour ring combinations accurately. 

Other wader numbers have improved too especially so late in the year with 110+ black tailed godwits, 24 ruff, 15 dunlin, 500 golden plover, 15 spotted redshank, the odd ringed plover, a single green sandpiper, all alongside the lapwings, redshank and curlew

Waders on singleton

Curlew sandpipers landing

Lapwing, ruff and curlew sandpiper

The curlew have currently moved from the stubble and onto the newly harvested sugar beet fields adjacent to the reserve - this 'supporting habitat' is very important for many birds that use the estuary.

A brief great white egret was also present yesterday on Singleton as this excellent flight shot from Sara our Assistant Warden shows below. Still a few little egrets about but one for the star birds today was a bittern, the first sighting for a while. 

Great white egret in flight

It seems for some species winter is coming a little early this year with a couple of parties of whooper swans today and yesterday, these are however being dwarfed by the thousands of pink footed geese that are flighting over the reserve. Interestingly there was a tweet showing a map of the movements of a couple of GPS tagged pink footed geese using our refuges at Reads Island and Whitton, this really shows how important these strategic reserves are for the conservation of the Humbers waterfowl, see below with a few shots of some of the pinks recently.  

And a few shots of the pinks

Enjoying the stubble

A good revival too in numbers of marsh harriers with five together yesterday and also peregrine, sparrowhawk, buzzards and a nice barn owl hunting around site at the moment on the mornings and evenings.

Marsh harrier - Singleton

With the strong North Westerlies recently it was disappointing not to have any seabird records, that was until yesterday however when two superb but very lost juvenile gannets drifted over Singleton hide!

Where these Bempton birds or from more northerly climes?

There have been some surprising and very interesting passerine sightings recently around site with a good movement of redpoll and now a few siskin passing south, but Jay was a typical early October sighting as was a couple of mistle thrushes, but 8 coal tits all in one flock was a reserve record count for this less than annual species!

The cettis warblers are singing well and there is still a good movement of skylark, chaffinch and meadow pipits through while if you carefully scan over the reedbed there is often the odd stonechat hovering at the moment. The kingfisher continues to show off its finery particularly on the water gauge at Xerox.

A few parties of bearded tits erupting today, I was working down at a freinds farm next to the reserve and there were about 20 birds pinging about even in the winter bird food mix! This lovely male was in the tidal reedbed alongside the river.

And its not just birds, there has been the usual mammal sightings of weasel, and roe deer while the team clearing out the ditch had good views of a water vole

An inquisitive Weasel by Pat Croften 

With Ousefleet getting a little bit of water on the high tides today hopefully this will keep attracting the birds particularly the wildfowl and waders onto site and give some good birding over the weekend.

  • You can really apprecitate the autumn light on many of these photographs, epecially on the wonderful beardie pics.