January, 2011

Blacktoft Sands

Blacktoft Sands
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Charlie's Blacktoft Blog

I'm the visitor experience officer at Blacktoft Sands
  • Towards dusk at Blacktoft

    Today towards dusk we had:

    • 6 marsh harriers going into roost in the reeds for the night. 
    • A merlin was spotted around singleton lagoon. 
    • Hen harriers - a male and a ring-tail were hunting the reserve around 4pm

    Please note that this Friday and Saturday we are running special birds of prey guided walks.  This means that we will be using singleton hide for much of this time - before 11:30am and after 2:00pm.  Alternative hides to watch the roost from these days are townend and first.

  • Barn owls, merlins and some harriers

    Well what a nice day to visit the reserve at Blacktoft - the sun on the reeds, some nice birds and a place to escape to in the winter!

    I only spent the last few hours on the reserve today but I had a barn owl - this time at the marshland box.  This along with recent sightings of two down at singleton  raises our hopes that maybe some of our owls have migrated south to warmer conditions and are now just returning.  Then I was at xerox where there were one or two ducks - OK actually there were 270 wigeon, some gadwall etc.  Then I headed to the main attraction at singleton for the birds of prey coming into roost.

    By the time I made it to singleton most of the marsh harriers were already into roost - most going in around 4pm but a late few made an appearance after half four.  A short time later I spotted two small birds chasing each other around the merlin bush - yes these were the merlins.  They spent the next half hour sitting in the bush occasionally darting around chasing each other.  No sign of the hen harriers but I left before it was dark. - the tend to come in just after dark.

    Gates will be locked at 1730 over the weekend so it is worth staying as long as you can because you never know what may come into roost this weekend at Blacktoft Sands.

  • More than one hen harrier!

    In recent weeks we have been seeing up to three different hen harriers joining our regular birds of prey on the reserve.  At least two of these, a male and a ring-tail were seen coming into roost towards dusk in the last few days so why not join us this weekend and you may be able to compare a male hen harrier (pictured left) with a male marsh harrier (pictured right).

    Hen harrier by Andy Hay (rspb-images.com) male marsh harrier taken by Neil J Dunn

    Other birds of prey around include merlin, sparrowhawk, peregrine and kestrel so that is six species of birds of prey currently using the reserve at Blacktoft.

    Also look out for ducks on the lagoons, some waders up at Ousefleet or listen to the sound of tree sparrows around the feeders.