Blacktoft Sands RSPB

I have enjoyed two visits recently to this site, the first time was one of the most memorable bird watching experiences I have ever had. I knew, courtesy of the excellent web site, that Harriers frequently hunted the reed beds and late in the afternoon gathered to roost. So I picked a nice day a couple of Sundays ago and poled up about mid-day, after settling into the ‘first hide’ I soon had a distant view of a Marsh Harrier, a really nice start. Then only about twenty minutes in a male Hen Harrier appeared very close to the hide and spent about a minute gliding effortlessly in front of the hide so close that binoculars were really unnecessary. The presence of this beautiful raptor was so stunning I did not even think to pick up my camera; not wanting to miss a second fumbling with gear. A photograph would have been nice but the image of this bird is imprinted on my memory so I will make do with that! Now this is like winning the lottery with the first ticket you buy, I felt like I should just give up and leave. Anyway I stayed and enjoyed chatting to everyone else who had seen ‘my Hen Harrier’ and although that was clearly the highlight I did enjoy watching about a dozen Snipe sunbathing right in front of the Xerox hide.


I reluctantly delayed a return visit due to the murky weather but yesterday with the weather promising better; I again set of for Blacktoft Sands. It could only be an anticlimax I was sure and for most of the day it was, ‘very quiet’ was what you heard all the time but I hoped the evening roost would provide some excitement. Sure enough the Marsh Harriers started to appear; I feel bad saying it but somehow they seemed like plain fare after my last visit. Then late in the afternoon as the light started to fail the male Hen Harrier swept in from the Trent, he kept his distance this time but was close enough to distinguish the black wing tips and lovely grey plumage, fabulous.

The last blast of snowy weather had the birds visiting the feeders in the garden and I am very lucky with the wide variety of birds we get here. Last week the Siskins returned and for the first time in my experience we had a few Brambling visit the garden, I dashed to my hide (the upstairs loo) and snapped of some pictures, the one below shows the lovely orange flashes on the wings.