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?