The penultimate wild sounds challenge has arrived just in time for the bank holiday weekend, with fun and enjoyment for all at Blacktoft Sands with plenty of species to see (and hear of course).
It's been a blustery couple of days on the reserve ( as demonstrated by this weeks mystery clips- they are authentic if nothing else!) but the birds have continued to put on a great show with a number of busy parents from a several species being seen gathering food around site and several of our waterfowl with youngsters in tow. The very vocal Avocets are still sitting on nests at Marshland, Marsh Harriers are performing well around the reserve with the fantastic vocal backings of the warblers heard from the trailside paths.
On site over the last few days was a Little Egret enjoying the comforts of Ousefleet lagoon and a lone Turnstone was seen from the Xerox hide. The Water Vole family have also continued to entertain intermittently from the reception hide and the Barn Owl has put in an appearance late in the day
Putting together Mystery Wild Sounds has been an ear opening experience in recording the clips and I imagine quite a comical one to watch for any onlookers who have witnessed our recording attempts as we lean as close as we can to buzzing bee’s or tiptoe closer to singing birds. Hopefully you have been enjoying listening to them as much as we have enjoyed recording them.
I’ve certainly learnt a lot and realised how much I can potentially miss if I’m not using my ears as well as my eyes. Picking up on Bearded tits amongst the vast expanse of reed can be a tricky thing but your not likely to mistake or miss the ‘ping ping ping’ as these speedy socialites flit amongst the reed.
Sound is also a fantastic thing to enjoy in regard to our more elusive species, there is nothing quite like sitting in one of the hides on an evening and enjoying the eerie booming of the Bittern or the pig like screeching of the Water Rail.
Next week will see the grand finale of our weekly Mystery Wild Sounds, so expect a big finish. We may occasionally post a special edition of Wild Sounds in the coming months, so keep your eyes ( and ears) open!
Not wanting to disappoint, here’s your next audible instalment... Happy listening!
0250.Mystery Sound N.m4a
It’s been an especially good start to the week weather wise and the insects and birds have wasted no time in taking full advantage of the sunshine and lack or precipitation.
The warblers are still showing off although it appears the Grasshopper and Sedge warblers have taken a back seat allowing the Blackcap and Whitethroat to steal the show and they really are doing a swell job. Launching themselves from the tops of trees, shrubs and dead wood piles to catch insects in flight, they have been a joy to watch from the trailside paths. Even when out of view they are certainly making themselves heard. Fancy an audible challenge? Check out our Mystery Wild Sounds blogs which have been running for the past few weeks...
The insects have been very busy so far this week not only are they feeding the many hungry mouths around the reserve but they’ve even found time to pose for the camera as this large Red Damselfly demonstrates.
Also captured on camera in the local area was this lovely Small Yellow Underwing, the first to be recorded in this part of Yorkshire.
The Bittern has been booming throughout the day with his better performances being first and last thing. He also provided some lovely views for the few lucky individuals who were in Townend hide on Sunday night as he came out to soak up the last of the sun.
Something which has been heard but not seen today is the Cuckoo producing its distinctive call but unfortunately not from a visible perch.
Bearded Tit’s are still being seen doing feeding flights with the occasional appearance towards the front of the reed, but you’ll need to be up early to catch them as nothing seems to keep them from their siesta.
Still worth scanning amongst the Black Headed Gulls as a Little Gull was seen passing over the reserve today and has been seen intermittently on the lagoons.
Hopefully the second half of the week will be just as enjoyable if not more so!
This May we have seen and taken photos of a wonderful selection of wildlife on the reserve. Based upon todays sightings, here is a selection of my photos.
Lets start with those water voles, throughout this last week they have been entertaining visitors from the reception hut. Here is a photo of one of the young trying to hide in the bank:
Plenty of duck can be seen around including pochard, shoveler, tufted duck, little grebe, shelduck and this gargeney today.
Many of our small birds are brillant at the moment, from the warblers along the trails to those bearded tits in the morning from first. Here is a photo of some of our other small stars. First photo is our smallest star (the wren)seen just out the front of reception feeding young in a nestbox and the second photo shows our commonest birds at Blacktoft, the reed bunting.
There is plenty more action around the reserve today. Here are just a list of some of the other highlights:
For more wild photos from May, check out the gallery by clicking here. There you will find some exellent photos taken by Chirpie taken on Saturday 11th May. If you would like to share your photos with us, then please join the RSPB community, then join the blacktoft group and then add your photos to our gallery.
Once again the week has flown by. Our aerial masters the swifts are still performing to a high standard, providing Blacktoft with the excitement and flare their presence guarantees; their displays are only enhanced by their enthusiastic comrades, swallow, house and sand martin.
Another enchanting sight on the reserve has been the butterfly’s with peacock, orange-tip and green-veined white whirling around, although they do stop to refuel and enjoy the sunshine periodically, as this very accommodating male orange-tip demonstrates.
The highlight of the week though is still the resident water vole family which can be seen exceptionally well from the reception hide, with at least three pups now out and about there’s never a dull moment. A particular highlight is watching the pups as they launch themselves from the bank into a sequence of forward roles ending in a somewhat anticlimactic but endearing belly flop. Of course there are other minatures now emerging on the reserve with goslings, ducklings, moorhen and coot chicks seen so far.
It’s that time of the week again so here is your audible challenge, hopefully everyone’s ear’s are now a little more in tune to their surroundings and you’re all enjoying your own sound experiences. Feel free to share any of your sounds with the team via the blog or email, or if you feel like developing your new found sense even further why not sign up to the last of our sounds guided walks tomorrow evening 7-9pm email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place.
5148.Mystery Sound K.m4a
8233.Mystery Sound L.m4a
Mystery Sound M
Answers in the comments box below as per usual, have a good weekend folks.
Certainly summer is struggling again and so are the poor old breeding birds. Only a week and a half ago things were looking fine with all the insects emerging ready to feed the hungry mouths that were all set to hatch from their safe little closeted eggshell worlds. But now duck broods are beginning to emerge and there is for the third year running no food to give them a full belly and the warmth they need to survive, typical the weather has become wet and dismally cold. Its all a bit of a worry really as we just have'nt had the summers we need for many species to do well on the reserve in recent years and this is noticeably having a major impact on their populations. And this is'nt limited to the ducks many other species from wrens to avocets don't like the cold and are just not raising the young to keep the populations healthy.
Cheered you up? Well sometimes the truth has to be told - On the other flip of the coin there has been some nice birds and wildlife around on site including the cute, bizzare and beautiful. Take for example the red legged partridge that greeted me as I walked onto the the reserve the other morning, why was it reading our tree sparrow information board? (see photo below)
And then there is our little water vole family! Yes I did say family - mam, dad and two little nippers. Talk about cute and at times ridicuously easy to see from our reception hide. Check out the picture below of one of the wee ones, he can hardly open his sleepy eyes!
All our star attractions, the marsh harriers, avocets, bearded tits and bitterns have been showing pretty well with the male bittern now taking a few more long flights around the reserve. The bearded tits, despite me bemoaning the weather are still battling on and fledging their first brood of youngsters, with adults often showing pretty well from First hide.
The swifts, swallows, house martins and sand martins have been showing really well as they strive to find what few insects are available on top of the water. The warblers too can still be seen well including reed, sedge, whitethroat, blackcap, and at times the odd grasshopper warbler. Yellow wagtails have been very good recently particularly around Xerox lagoon.
Not many waders due to the westerly winds but a few black tailed godwits, ringed plover and dunlin on tide plus the odd common sandpiper.
Notable recent sightings have been a fly over skua species (probably arctic), little egret and Mediterranean gull. At least two barn owls were hunting the other evening over the reedbed in front of Singleton and Xerox hides.