May, 2012

Blacktoft Sands

Blacktoft Sands
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Charlie's Blacktoft Blog

I'm the visitor experience officer at Blacktoft Sands
  • Marsh warbler and now singing Savi's warbler!

    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

  • Marsh warbler's a little stunner

    The last week has seen a steady trickle of nice birds but today the dam broke with a stunning male marsh warbler was found singing just next to Singleton hide! The bird is even sporting a metal BTO type ring just to make it a little easier to sort from the reed warblers! The song though is quite distinctive and the bird finding its little patch of reed fen to its liking showed perched up and sang away to the small group of birders who had gathered.

    Best birds of the last few days include curlew sandpiper, osprey, 5 greenshank, med gull, little stint, sanderling, 2 black tailed godwit, 3 little ringed plover, grey plover, 4 ringed plover, red kite, at least 2 bitterns, plenty of marsh harriers and avocets all backed up with our usual breeding warblers and ducks.


  • Sizzling summer beckons breeding birds!

    It seems that the thermostat has suddenly been turned up out here in the countryside and what a difference a few more degree's makes! Insects buzzing around the reedbed, May flower out in bloom and smelling so strong it makes you sniffle, and of course a little Blacktoft baby boom!

    What with the previous few weeks weather been so miserable I thought that it was never going to happen but suddenly it's right here and now! The first baby avocet yesterday and lots of fat little black headed gull chicks looking all very innocent and well kind of sweet. And some of my scrub land favourites, young long tailed tits, tree sparrows and a brood of robins in the toilet block who are almost near to fledging. Even the bearded tits are showing signs of having young with the adults now collecting large beak fulls of insects and taking them back to the nest deep in the reedbed.  Unfortunately it looks like the first brood of beardies was very badly hit by the cold spring of April and May with many nests and young succumbing to the effects of the cold. Fortunately they can have three broods so lets hope they get moving and rear some good summer clutches.  

    I have'nt updated the sightings too much recently unfortunatly due to the team and myself being a little waylayed by 17 very unruly heifers. Apologies for any disturbance during visiting hours due to this recently but unfortunatly thats what you get with livestock!  

    Raptors have been entertaining with a superb hobby last night at Singleton catching insects and eating them in mid air over the nesting avocets, also some great marsh harrier food passes going on, hen harrier, buzzard and short eared owls still showing well and peregrine hunting on occasions. Barn owls have also been very good with at least three pairs using the reedbed to hunt over with one poor owl only just escaping the attention of 5 great black backed gulls who were trying to get it to drop its prey. Poor old barnie just made it back into his box though and with his vole!

    Last weeks mad rush of waders seems to have slowed down again but a few still going through including up to 27 curlew, dunlin, ringed and little ringed plover and the odd snipe.

    Still plenty of bittern activity on site with the males booming big time last night and birds showing on and off during the day. Migrants still trickle in with a big influx of reed warblers in the last few days to join the sedge, grasshopper warblers, whitethroats and blackcaps all singing away. A cuckoo has been heard a couple of times but is still not regular.

    The hare's seem to get tamer by the day with a young leverett actually sniffing my wellington yesterday evening, poor lad, he won't be the same again.

    Groppers have been a bit shy this spring but here's an excellent photo by Malc Exley

    And a photo I took this morning showing how late summer is this year - my first damselfly on the sands, this one's a large red

    And the Koniks showing how they manage wetlands!