After first been seen on November 1st - we appear to have a fallow deer living at Blacktoft Sands. It was seen quite a few times during the first week of November but then we have had no records until today (Friday 26th) and then it was only seen very briefly out the front of reception. If anybody has seen this fallow deer during a visit during November - please add a comment to this blog about when and where you have seen it. Also to all photographers out there - we are still looking for a great photograph so if you have one please put it on the gallery or visit us this weekend as we try and find the fallow deer again (it has fantastic antlers!).
Other mammal seen recently include our friendly weasel (see photo gallery) which is often seen out the front of reception and out more normal roe deer have been a little more obvious the last few days.
On the bird front, probably the fieldfares seen in around the car park and along the hedge are the main interest. Our woodpecker is still a regular feature at our bird table along with the 30+ tree sparrows and the odd reed bunting. Ducks have to pack into the small areas of open water - allowing you to easily compare the different duck species using the reserve at the moment. Look out for the goldeneye in amongst them. Birds of prey - kestrels, sparrowhawks and marsh harriers are hunting regularly around the reserve. Lastly, Barn owls have been showing good towards the end of the day.
Since 2002 marsh harriers have been found all year round at Blacktoft Sands. During the last couple of winters, numbers staying for the winter have dramatically increased so that at the moment we have over 10 different birds returning each day to roost in the reeds.
Why have they started to stay? There are a few possible reasons for this. Firstly - the availability of prey. If they can find enough food - is it worth a visit to Africa! Secondly, adult birds of many species often decide to stay near the nest sites to claim the best spot come the breeding season so that might be why quite a few females stay in England. Lastly, it appears that with each generation more and more are deciding to stay put rather than migrate so perhaps in the future more marsh harriers will be seen where they regularly nest. This might explain why so many young birds have been seen at the roost during the last few years.
Roost time. Best be in position by 2:30pm for the birds of prey arriving during the course of the next hour or so.
Todays roost had well over 10 marsh harriers coming in - these 10 were counted from reception at 3:15pm and were all in the air at once! A ring-tail hen harrier also made an appearance around that time. For the roost best to be in postion by 2:30pm at the latest. We also had a male hen harrier seen on a few occasions throughout the day starting at 10am.
Also today, barn owls were seen hunting at both singleton and ousefleet towards dark and a tawny owl appeared at 4:30pm near the reception so you might want to wait until it is almost dark (gates locked at 4:45pm).