Monday, April 30, 2012

Blacktoft Sands Nature Reserve. 28th April, 2012.

An early start to get a problem sorted out with one of the car's wheels and then on to Blacktoft Sands RSPB Nature Reserve. Situated on the south side of the River Humber and adjacent to the Trent outfall it's always been a favourite of mine and somewhere to head for when opportunity allowed. Located amongst adjacent farmland it comprises a series of pools and extensive reed beds and, of course, is situated along a notable migration route too.

It has to be said, forcibly, that the weather was very pleasant, although an increasing north east wind brought a sharp edge to temperatures, a nice change after all that rain!! Blacktoft boasts various iconic species , chief amongst which is Bittern, so it was good to have a single bird fly past one of the hides, gain a little height, complete a U-turn and then go down in the reeds. A superb view!!  All the while squabbling Grey-lag Geese were a feature of the day, with calling and flights over the lagoons producing a background vibrancy that let no one forget it was Spring.

With a rising wind various hirundines whirled around over the various lagoons with, in the end , Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin being seen as well as several Swifts. At intervals individual male and female Marsh Harriers wheeled about over the reed beds where, eventually several pairs will settle down to breed. To complement this collection of star birds several Avocets were present and clearly settling to breed on one lagoon from which their fluty calls could be heard long before one arrived, providing a marked contrast to the ill-tempered and raucous outpourings of the already incubating Black-headed Gulls. A single, utterly graceful adult Little Gull added its presence to all this activity, elegantly swooping to and fro and picking off food items from the water surface and occasionally giving a glimpse of its scarlet legs and dark underwing.

With water levels being high ( it's all that rain you know!! ) no waders were in evidence compared to other occasions but such provided an opportunity to look closely at the shrub and tree cover on the reserve and seek out any passerine migrants. A couple of Blackcaps valiantly produced snatches of song against a wind that was now quite strong at times and, nearby from areas of rough vegetation, two or three newly arrived Sedge Warblers had already staked out territories and were energetically announcing their presence.

All in all , a good day!