This past month has seen incredible action from the marsh harriers at Blacktoft Sands and here is some of my favourite photos taken from the gallery or from emails that I have received over the last month. Hope you like them.
Lets start with this fantastic shot sent in by Mr H.F. Bardsley of a male marsh harrier:
One of our regulars at adding photos to our gallery is Neil and he captured this wonderful shot of that male marsh harrier that seems taken with those bushes between townend and singleton. Here he is having a rest:
Another one of our regulars is Litenheat. He has captured a series of photos of this male (I think) mating. These are not featured here but if you would like to have a look just click here. Meanwhile here is one of his photos of a male carrying a bit of nesting material. They have spent they last few weeks doing a lot of this:
And lastly, in my highlights section here is this wonderful shot of a marsh harrier being chased by avocets taken by Goodnitegirl.
Thanks to all of you who have shown your wonderful photos on the gallery or emailed us with your great shots.
The challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to get that top marsh harrier shot - the aerial food pass. This month is one of the best times to see this at the reserve.
To view many more marsh harrier photos, take a look at our gallery.
Never say never at Blacktoft, its a place you can never underestimate! Quiet often seems to produce some of our best birds
Just a quick update on the two star rarities - The marsh warbler is continuing to sing and show very well particularly in the morning. I'm generally opening the gates by 8.00am at the moment so you are welcome to come along early. Also apologies for saying the bird is a male! Apparently both sexes sing in this species, you learn something new every day in this game! Mind you I've only been birding a mere 35 years or so. For those of you interested in reserve trivia it's only the 3rd or 4th record for the reserve and certainly must be rare as Eddie our longest serving birder now on site informs me that it was a first for him!
The Savi's can only be heard from First and occasionally Townend hide generally between 8pm and dusk. We will try and keep the gates open until about 9.30 if people want to listen to the bird but no longer I'm afraid! Please note that no one should attempt to get onto the marsh to see this bird - you will disturb several nesting schedule one birds and as a result be a lot poorer from the fine you recieve.
Many of the waders have now moved through so don't expect too much in this area until about the 12th June when they will start returning and we will have dropped the water levels on Marshland lagoon a little bit in preparation.
Plenty of Avocets though, Marsh harrier and bittern still active. The mute swans now have 6 cygnets!
Below a distant shot of the marsh warbler from my basic camera. It enlarges well but for some reason the stupid blog won't publish my crop!
There ya go! I have to export the cutting! Marsh warbler showing it all off and ring! Would be great to be able to read any of it
Quite a few people have been asking me how the ponies are at the moment and this made me realize that I had'nt blogged about them for a while. So here is a brief update along with a few photo's.
The 'boys' as they are now affectionately known are quite in their element here at Blacktoft in the spring, chasing each other around and fighting like all little (or not so little) boys tend to do when out in the countryside! They seem to know the Sands like the back of their hoofs after only 6 months here and quite happily charge around at full pelt with the confidence that they are'nt going to run into anything. When they are in full flow they are quite magnificant and seem truly wild and free. So for those of you who have'nt managed to visit for a while here goes.
A quick update of the action from today at Blacktoft.
Yesterday was on the most part a lovely sunny day and what a difference it made! Migrants decided to sing and show for once with lesser whitethroat, whitethroat and Hobby all recorded, rather later than usual due to the continued proverbial northerly winds - when will they ever stop! Two little gulls, hen harrier, buzzard and a possible merlin added to the avocets, marsh harriers and bitterns that are currently showing quite well. A few more grasshopper and reed warblers too so keep an ear out while listening to the throng of sedge warblers. A few more arctic and a common tern have moved through recently so keep an eye on the river for anything a bit different.
A surprise this morning while checking the water levels in the reedbed was a late jack snipe. But more visible has been the black tailed godwits and occassional spotted redshank. Up to 10 swifts have been eeking out the few insects they can find over the ponds, poor old things.
A immature mediterranean gull has been present occasionally causing some confusion with visitors. Here's a field picture to help, the meds the one on the left.