Wow what a stunningly beautiful morning today compared to the heavy rain and chilly Northerly wind of yesterday! But of course birdwatching is not a fair weather pastime and the change in conditions brought a bit of autumn migration back to the Humber.
We also manged to 'ship' off most of the water that had accumulated on the active wader lagoons of Marshland, Xerox and Townend and cut the vegetation in front of Marshland so hopefully everything is all set for the weekend! We have some good numbers of greenshank (17), spotted redshank (28), Ruff (20) Redshank (35), snipe (20+), green sandpiper (4), with then a mix of other's around with occassional black tailed godwits (up to 6), single dunlin, 2 turnstone (over) and then a very brief flyover curlew sandpiper. There are also up to 22 curlew on the grazing marsh and odd parties of oystercatcher west. It will be interesting to see if we get a late passage of smaller wader but we are certainly missing the Northerlies and Easterlies that we need to bring the eastern breeders. Interestingly I was reading one of the old reserve reports from the 1980's and I can assure everyone that there were indeed blank curlew sandpiper years back in the good old days! Funny how we all remember the best passage years.
Other summer passage migrants present yesterday were whinchat and wheatear with also a few 'winter' migrants including 7 pintail on Singleton lagoon and a few widgeon plus the first signs of some meadow pipit passage. I also heard that last week someone had spotted a rare Kenus Clarkus on the reserve, a first for the site!
Our reserve 'regulars' are still entertaining well too with the Marsh harrier roost building up, bittern still around Singleton, and water rail showing stupendously on Townend and First. I'm hoping too with a little settled weather that the beardies may start showing better as they come out of their complete body moult, but don't bank on it as its been a very unpredictable year for this species!
Other notable birds around site include plenty of yellow wagtails, hobby, and on an evening Barn Owls but you do have to stay quite late.
Plenty of other wildlife around too with dragonflies, hoverflies, fungi aplenty. For those of you who read my last Fungi blog I have indeed now found the Glockendungerling and will update next week on my fungi forays in the horse and now cow dung!
Evening sunsets at this time of year can be breathtaking on the reserve, and something to watch out for tonight is a Blue Moon!
Well at least something seems to be benefiting from all this rain with the fungi around the reserve starting to 'bloom' and add to the diversity of wildlife on show here on the sands. it's also a bit of a reminder that my favourite time of Autumn is just around the corner. Passage birds, fungi, and spectacular reds and browns around the countryside, you just cannot beat it. You even get that lovely autumn smell on the cooler mornings - mmm rotting leaf litter, now that's what I call a proper countryside memory. Much better than a splash of Old spice! Here are a trio of nice Fungi to tickle the taste buds - not sure of my ID though so if there are any fungi experts out there please put me on the right track.
A fresh looking blistered cup nestled in horse dung
This one I think might be Bell shaped Mottlegill - I particularly love the alternative name of Glockendungerling though - the Germans really do know how to think up some great names!
And these which I feel I should be able to ID but cannot! - tricky little blighters these fungi
Ah someone who came over to help! And stuck his big konk in the way.
Well, the wildlife has been entertaining us these last few days from the siege of grey herons on townend to the peregrines and hobby stirring things up on our lagoons.
Starting with that siege that is taking place on townend (a group of grey herons is called a siege). There has been up to seven of them today on townend and they are often seen following and chasing each other around.
Also on Townend look out for those water rails especially on the right hand side. Waders have been great here also with greenshank, spotted redshank, green sandpiper and snipe being amongst just some present there today.
We also witnessed a stoat working along the bank in front of this hide. Stoats and weasels have been appearing all over the place during recent days with two running between my feet on the path to reception yesterday and another today in front of reception so keep watching along the paths and in front of the hides for these strange mammals.
The first red underwing of the autumn made an appearance today - It was seen on the door of xerox today!
Look out also for that charm of goldfinches (out front of reception) and the tribe of tree sparrows (by flood bank and feeders).
The bittern continues to be seen on singleton and those birds of prey (the peregrines and hobby) keep shifting those lapwing around!
They seek that little wood sandpiper everywhere! However PatC (our intrepid photographer) managed to catch up with the elusive little pimpernel yesterday and get these excellent shots. Pity I was stuck in a Brushcutter refresher training course all day at Old Moor, still I suppose I got the consolation of some amazing close up views of green woodpecker on the road into the reserve.
Two greenshank (left) and wood sandpiper on the right
And wood sand - plus reflection
Again waders are the focus of the site with stunning close up views of greenshank, ruff, green sandpiper, snipe, redshank, lapwing and spotted redshank. Others species that have at times include Black tailed godwit, common sandpiper, little ringed plover, golden plover, and oystercatcher.
Birds of prey have certainly perked up a little recently and following on from the weekend Osprey we have had up to 10 marsh harriers in to roost, a couple of hobbies, sparrowhawk and a report of honey buzzard flying over on yesterday (any photos of the bird anybody?).
At last a couple of little egrets have decided to visit us from the massed ranks over the other side of the river while the bittern still continues its feeding flights, much to our amazement! Water rails still continue to show well and for the lucky few the bearded tit that remains faithful to Marshland has shown well. Plenty of other bits and bops around including yellow wagtails, sedge warblers, blackcaps, reed buntings and tree sparrows.
Little grebes and tufted duck chicks are doing well on the lagoons where we have retained water to make up for the late breeding season.
The reedbed has taken on a touch of the 'Hendrix' at the moment as the phragmites is just starting to flower and in the right light conditions emit a dazzling yet calming Purple Haze. And hey man you know, there are so many sublime aspects to a reedbed which changes with the seasons just like a meadow or a woodland, all you have to do to appreciate this natural wonder is take your time, chill out and look around! You don't even have to wear flares though or purple trousers and tank top to enjoy.
Bird-wise it is certainly a time of change with many summer migrants moving south. Ruff increased to 25 on Friday and there has been a steady build up of spotted redshank, greenshank, snipe and green sandpiper. There were also 3 bar tailed godwits and four avocet, ringed plover, 2 turnstone, 22 curlew, 43 oystercatcher flying west, 5 black tailed godwits and common sandpiper.
The marsh harriers are becoming increasingly scarce as many seemed to have moved off south. However, up to 9 are still roosting on site most of which are males. There has also been up to two hobbies showing well on occasions and a magnificant female peregrine that almost took the top off my head as she chased a starling! An Osprey passed nearby on Sunday but for some reason was not seen from Blacktoft but was from Alkborough!
The bittern continues to carry out its feeding flights which now raises the interesting question, was the young bird photographed by PatC from that brood? Usually bitterns fledge and disperse but as the young can hatch a few days apart then some birds will be younger than others, if it was a large brood of four this could be anything up to 12 days between the first and last youngster fledging!
Other recent interesting sightings have been cuckoo, 3 little egrets, 70 yellow wagtails, bearded tit (marshland and due to its moult tail less!), several common terns, and plenty of water rails.
Below two harrier fledglings enjoying the 'reedbed music' - purple haze
And a species that had a much more healthy population in Hendrix's day - cuckoo. This one was outside reception yesterday (photo by Matt Cox)