Sunday, January 20, 2008

An outing

Stewart, here's a bit of Phragmites for you


I had to head over past Goole yesterday so a couple of opportunities presented themselves to go to Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve.

I arrived as they opened up and blow me there was Pete G. We had a wander out to the closest hides, I had but an hour. Marsh Harrier x2 were not unexpected, Whooper Swan, 1; lots of Teal and Shoveler and various other quackers but best was a Kingfisher and a then a Merlin that made a very serious attempt at some Snipe murdering. Sparrowhawk was also seen. Water Rail was heard. In the far distance was a mighty flock of birds which included corvids, some serious number of Lapwing and Golden Plover.

I then had to leave but managed to return for the roost. Kingfisher was again in evidence, showing off rather nicely. Marsh Harrier, at least 10, a ringtail Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Merlin, several Barn Owls which performed conveniently in front of the hide, a distant flock of Pink-feet, huge numbers of gulls and distant Lapwings.

Chatting to Mike P the warden I enquired about the flock of 31 Water Pipits that he'd seen during the week, a massive number, to be told his number had been trumped by a flock of 40 just over the water in Lincs. Is this the largest ever Water Pipit flock in UK?

The Hen Harrier count is truly dismall. This site used to hold a winter roost of 10 or 20. It seems that the grouse shooting fraternity may have decided to eliminate this species? The funding for Operation Artemis has ceased, political pressure? I reckon Hen Harrier is about to become a rare bird in England in winter as well as summer. But if those responsible are allowed to get away with this, which species will be next?

6 comments:

Boulmer Birder said...

Ta Alastair...aren't people kind. Someone was going to send me a Coot t'other day and now a phrag bed. Whatever next...

East Ayton Birding said...

Nice selection of raptors - pity about the Hen Harriers, would be interesting to know what viable population the North Yorkshire Moors could hold, without any hindrance.

Alastair said...

I'll throw in a Savi's or two in exchange for a conveniently placed Bananabill.


Are you setting me sums Dave? I think I could give an answer to that, let me think on it.

East Ayton Birding said...

A quick google search gives the area of the North Yorkshire Moors at 554 square miles, presumably a reasonable proportion of which is decent habitat for harriers.

Couldn't find a standard size territory for hen harriers, if such a thing exists, and it gets more complicated with males able to take up with more than one female.

Either way the area should be an English stronghold.

Boulmer Birder said...

I would have swapped WBD no probs for Savi's. Savi's would be a British tick for me...cant see one turning up on Seaton Point beach though...

Alastair said...

BWP gives information on nesting densities but its hard to figure out how that might translate into a holding capacity for the North Yorks Moors as the species is frequently semi-colonial, even without male promiscuity. My guess would be something in the region of 40 pairs might be possible.

That is probably one of the few species I've seen that you haven't then Stewart - I used to live in Kent.