I really really love the idea of landscape scale conservation and mega large areas of habitats that cover 1000's of acres, but at times it can be a little frustrating (in fact painful) with the more moblie species such as the waders!
You see over the last few years or so Blacktoft has got a big brother over the other side of the river Trent at Alkborough Flats that is a combined flood alleviation tidal set back scheme, wildlife reserve and farmland and which has some pretty large tidal pools that tend to be at times a little over attractive to birds than our little old pools here on the Sands.
Not that its bad birdwatching here at Blacktoft at the moment with spotted redshank, greenshank, green sandpiper, avocet, bearded tit, marsh harrier and 18 little egrets plus a load more species including plenty of water rails around the edges of the lagoons, marsh harriers and regular hobbies. At the weekend too the wood sandpiper put on a sterling display in front of the hides.
But we don't have the number of waders which I would expect at this time of year and a recent e-mail from a freind revealed just where they are and yes you've maybe guessed it already! nearly 1000 avocets, 500 black tailed godwits, ruff, dunlin and a whole host of other species including up to 8 spoonbills all on the other side of the river at Alkborough not more than a mile away!
You see in some years when Alkborough's pools stay wet they seem to be holding mountains of food that is just too attractive to the waders - it doesn't even seem to matter what water levels we have here at Blacktoft the birds just feed where there is the most food! We've tried everything to try and balance the bird usage out but each site goes through months and years when one is more attractive than the other. Of course this is what would happen in natural bigger wetlands where birds move around the site as per their needs - not so good for us birders but excellent for the wildlife!
Well of course I could say come to Blacktoft and not say anything about the 'dark side' but that would be kinda wrong in that I would not be supporting my own strong views that 'Landscape Scale Conservation is Best'. There are hides at Alkborough and footpaths and a car park and lots of areas to walk, but if you want to enjoy the birds I would recommend a telescope as they can be a little further away than at Blacktoft, but they can still be fantastic for those who love their birds.
And here's the rub - for great close views then come to Blacktoft, for numbers and a few extra species go to Alkborough, or why not make a day out of it and visit both sites and come and see just what a great place the Upper Humber is becoming for birds.
More breeding birds, more wintering birds and lots more passage birds than there has ever been with many now ready to colonise new wetland sites within the North of England.
Yes landscape conservation - its going to take a bit of getting used to but its most definatly the way forward if we are going to save our birds and wildlife from the pressures of the modern world.
Aerial shot of Blacktoft with Alkborough in the distance to the right of the picture - don't be fooled by the optical illusion, Alkbrough Flats is twice the area of Blacktoft!