Sunday, 23 July 2017

Blacktoft Sands

On the way back from Northumberland we made a detour to RSPB Blacktoft Sands, it was a scorcher of a day, so I suppose predictably the reserve was pretty quiet from a birding viewpoint and as it was really only a lunch stop, we concentrated on the hides to the right of the visitor centre.

As usual at Blacktoft (that makes it sound like we go there a lot, in fact it was only our third visit in 6 years) the stars are the Marsh Harriers. However photography is difficult on such a hot day with the heat haze and that they never really come that close to the hides.

There were of course other birds about, surprised thought that we didn't see any Avocets, not to worry though plenty of those at home at Upton Warren!

Grey Heron and Little Egrets were plentiful,

there were also plenty of Sedge and Reed Warblers about, getting a photo though was a bit more challenging until one Reed Warbler stopped for a microsecond to the right of the hide.

A Bittern did put in a very brief appearance unfortunately I was looking the other way and only saw it drop into the reeds, but that was well worth the stopover for our (late, as usual) lunch.

A few ducks were spotted, Mallard, Shoveler, Tufty, Teal and Gadwall, plus Little Grebe and of course a must at Blacktoft, Tree Sparrows near the visitor centre.

A lovely lunch stop, although it did add nearly an hour onto our travel time, but worth it!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

A much belated Northumberland Part 4

After a difficult few weeks I have finally got around to getting up to date with the blog. First up is to finish off our trip to Northumberland last month.

After the day on the Farne Islands we changed tack and went inland, firstly to a small reserve not far from Seahouses, run by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust at West Fleetham, third is made up of five very small sites of which we visited three, Long Nanny Wood, Farm Pond and Quarry Meadow.

While Lang Nanny Wood was lovely and only a short walk, I think the only birds we saw were Woodpigeon and Blackbird, plenty of bird song but couldn't see a thing!

Farm Pond was great with two easily accessible hides and again only short walks, the views over the pond were limited at this time of year due to the foliage, but we did see a Kingfisher, briefly, plus Little Grebe and Tufted Duck.

Quarry Meadow again had a nice hide, overlooking what may have been a badgers set, but now totally obscured by nettles. Not much to report other than, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Buzzard, Swallows and Martins. I guess visiting here earlier in the year would prove a much better prospect.

From here we drove on to a National Trust property at Wallington in search of Red Squirrels. Since we last visited in 2009 they have built a nice woodland hide in which we spent a few hours, well it would have been rude not to! So did we see any Squirrels? I think that's a yes:

The hide also provided us with some great bird sightings,

Towards the end of the afternoon we wandered down to the river, saying that it would be lovely to see a Dipper, of course Wallington came up with the goods!
However the day wasn't over yet! We decided to head back with a longish detour via Cresswell Pond and Druridge Pools, the former for Barn Owl and the latter for Long-eared Owl as we had spoken to locals at both spots previously who had told us about them. We stayed from about 7.30 until gone 10! but there was no sign of the Long-eared Owl, but we had a few sightings of the Barn Owl and an obliging Stonechat,
 Barn Owl going in!
 and mission accomplished!

So as not to make a 5th post for Northumberland, I will briefly add a few pics from a walk down to the National Trust Reserve at Beadnell to see the Little Terns (and Arctic Terns)
These are the Little Tern 'nests' raised onto crates and pallets, so that action can be taken in the event of tidal surges and spring tides, one of which was due the week after, so fingers crossed all went well and the nests survived.
 Little Tern after having had a wash in the river.
In addition to the Little Terns there were many Arctic Terns nesting near the Rangers huts, plus plenty of wild flowers.

So that was Northumberland. We did make a stop on the way home, but I will cover that in a separate post.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

On Tour - Northumberland - Part 3 The Farne Islands

We booked on to a boat to the Farnes for the afternoon. The Farnes Islands at this time of year are just fantastic, being dive bombed by Arctic Terns and getting close and personal with a whole variety of sea birds and of course the enigmatic Puffin, there can't be a better place to be in the world to get so close to the birds.

I will let the photos speak for themselves.......