Even though we still have waders (spotted redshank, black-tailed godwits and some ruff), the main time for waders at Blacktoft Sands has now come to an end. So how was 2010 for waders at Blacktoft?
The big one this year was semipalmated sandpiper. A total of 27 species of wader visited the reserve and we had an excellent ruff passage showing many different confusing plumages. Dunlins were very few and far between at times and curlew sandpipers took a long while to come but when they did we ended up with 21 of them.
It all started on the 11th June with the appearance of the first green sandpipers, then a few days later on the 16th June the first of the spotted redshank arrived back (in superb summer plumage) and then on the 18th June ruff appeared (with a little bit of their breeding plumage). Over the following weeks numbers slowly built up so that on the 12th July there were 6 spotted redshank and 12 ruff as part of the 10 species using the reserve in early July.
For wader Sunday on the 1st August, there was 10 species of wader including 161 black-tailed godwits, 10 spotted redshank, 20 ruff and 7 green sandpipers.
Then the wood sandpipers appeared (Wednesday 4th Aug), first there was one and then there were three, with one present for about a month on the reserve.
Next up was the mystery wader, turning up on Sunday 8th / Monday 9th Aug. After having to seek identification via photograph we finally identified this wader as a semipalmated sandpiper. This was also the week when we had 22 wader species recorded on the reserve.
Then we entered a bit of ruff patch which was a bit confusing! Mid to late August, the numbers of ruff peaked with around 75 birds seen around the reserve. There were many young birds around with their fish scale patterns on the back and the sandy coloured front indicating a good breeding season for this species.
Curlew sandpipers finally arrived on 4th September when we spotted 3 in the front of reception and by the following Saturday ‘Super Saturday’ we had 21 of these birds using our lagoons. Super Saturday also brought as 2 little stints and that wood sandpiper amongst many other waders. The curlew sandpipers stayed until Monday the 4th October.
The other wader of note was the pectoral sandpiper that made a very brief visit on Thursday 16th September during our evening harrier watch.
Our main wader season comes to the end in October with extreme numbers of snipe. With well over 100 snipe using the reserve during the weekend 9th/10th October, this is a great way to end another good wader season at Blacktoft Sands – what will happen in 2011?
Well we now have made it into November and if you were to visit Blacktoft Sands then I recommend that you spend a little time going around the lagoons ending up at singleton or townend for the roost between 3pm and 5pm at the moment.
Recent roosts have included around 10 marsh harriers, sparrowhawks after a starling or two and a few barn owls hunting around in front of the hides.
Ousefleet lagoon is particularly nice with lapwings and golden plovers present in the middle of the area of water and an odd view of one of our roe deers.
Waders are found on marshland or up at Ousefleet - black-tailed godwits, 8 spotted redshank, lots of snipe and some ruff have been present in recent days.
Duck wise - shoveler, teal, wigeon, shelduck, little grebe, tufted ducks and pochard have been present offering close views of them sleeping or the different feeding methods.
Also listen carefully when in singleton for the roost and you might hear a cetti's warbler.
Don't forget our feeding station where you can watch our tree sparrows and perhaps have a visit from a great-spotted woodpecker.
For weekends we will have a second feeding station where you can grab a spot to eat or just a warm drink for yourself.