BLACKTOFT SANDS 30 YEARS ON

Montagu's Harrier (adult female), Blacktoft Sands RSPB Reserve.

MONTAGU'S HARRIER WAS THE STAR OF MY RETURN TO BLACKTOFT today, only a couple of months short of 30 years since my last visit there (for Britain's first Red-necked Stint). Unfortunately only the female has been seen recently, the male having been seen last eight days ago and she was prospecting far and wide over the reserve, often way up in the sky. We hope he returns and they can breed again in safety deep inside Blacktoft's massive reed bed. Although the Monty's was today's star, when I last visited the Little Egret, which flew under it at one stage today would have been more notable! The reserve now has its own Avocet colony as well as bitterns (three) and Cetti's Warblers in addition to the Marsh Harriers and Bearded Tits, which were the reasons for our regular visits in the 80s, although the endless stream of Turtle Doves we used to see flying along the skyline here are long gone. How times have changed! Other birds here today included a couple of sparrowhawks over the reed bed and Tree Sparrows breeding in the car park.

Some extensive searching around the ELOC area produced a desired Spotted Flycatcher singing in the car park at Stocks but not much else of note in a cool northerly wind. The previous evening I had failed to find a flycatcher around Slaidburn but two whimbrels north from the walled garden at Stocks saved the show now the arctic shorebird passage has all but ended. 

ELOC year list 137. Spotted Flycatcher