With the variable Autumn weather we have been experiencing, it not only seemed lucky that we enjoyed a splendidly sunny day, but essential that we make the most of days like this.
Blackfoot Sands is on the southern bank of the Ouse where it meets the Trent and becomes the Humber Estuary. There are a number of hides looking over a range of wetland and our first stop was the Xerox hide. Roosting Teal were probably the most numerous bird. There were a number of Shoveler feeding but the highlight was a small flock of Spotted Redshank. Subtly paler than the Common Redshank, they have a distinct eye stripe and the bill is robust and changing from red to black towards the tip. They were clearly displaying how they upend to feed in deeper water than Common Redhank.
From the Marshland hide several Snipe were seen on the islands, there were wigeon in eclipse plumage and there was a distant flitting of Bearded Tits in the reeds at the far side of the water. These would not have been identified without other people in the hide pointing them out, and were really just a reminder that they are about rather than a proper view.
In the Ousefleet hide there was further conversation with another visitor, who turned out to work with John’s cousin, and was generous with his knowledge of this and other reserves. John found a micro moth he hadn’t encountered before, Agnopterix alstromeriana. Meanwhile a tractor was cutting the marsh in front of the hide, in preparation for high tides next week. Reducing the vegetation will allow the marsh to flood, diverting it from farmland and villages. Kestrels and Buzzards were attracted to disturbance.
Singleton hide provided our most sightings. Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, a juvenile Ruff and more Teal and Shoveler. There was a large flock of Lapwing. It was when these took to the air that we were alerted to a quartering Marsh Harrier, soon to be followed by a Peregrine.
On our return to the car park the Tree Sparrows were chattering away at the bird feeders. We had a distant look at the wildflower meadow that contained, amongst other things, Knapweed, Mayweed, Mallow and Yarrow. Birds were really the order of the day, but we did note Chicory and Common Hogweed in flower and the dried flower stalks of Marsh Sowthistle (identified via a text from Alice, unfortunately unable to be with us today). The bees were enjoying some late flowering Teasel. Quite a number of Migrant Hawker and Common Darter dragonflies were seen, mostly on the move, and Red Admiral, Comma and Green-veined White butterflies entertained.
As we left the reserve we saw a handful of Curlew feeding in the stubble fields, and another sighting of a Peregrine.
We were pleased to have Martin with us today.