I was tempted by the alliteration of “Bad Day at Blacktoft Sands” as I like alliteration and it sounds like a black and white cowboy film, which I also like. However, we had a good day, so that plan was doomed from the start.
It shows how things have changed over the years if I say that we saw a Marsh Harrier and a Little Egret, but didn’t see anything special. Marsh Harriers were down to a single breeding pair in 1971 but there are up to 380 pairs now and seem quite common if you go to the right place. Little Egrets have had a population explosion since the 1980s – from being a rarity we now have a population of around 700 breeding pairs and 4,500 overwintering. Give them a few more years and we’ll be complaining about them crowding other birds out.
The Marsh Harrier expansion is down to preserving habitat, changing habits and stopping people persecuting them, though they still have problems. The Little Egret, I’m afraid to say, might be due to global warming though a general expansion of range and protection of habitat may be helping.
The first notable birds we say were Tree Sparrows. They have declined by 96% since 1970, and we only seem to see them on the bird feeders at Nature Reserves!
Tree Sparrows at Blacktoft Sands
Female Marsh Harrier – Blacktoft Sands
Little Grebe (Dabchick)
We did see a group of Pochard, which was nice because numbers have been decreasing, plus a couple of Little Grebes, Widgeon, Teal, Greylag Geese and a few other things. I won’t list them all because lists aren’t that interesting, except to the people making the list.
As usual, the distance was too far for the camera, but fortunately some of the birds helped out by coming close. Buildings, being bigger and slower than birds, were more obliging, so I took a few shots of the buildings.
It’s a very watery place. The Ouse runs to the north of the reserve (connecting Goole docks to the sea). The Trent runs down the east side and where the two rivers meet they form the Humber, which is an estuary rather than a river. I didn’t know that until last week, I always thought it was a short river.
The white building is part of Associated British Ports and overlooks a wharf whilst the lighthouse at Whitgift is still in service and is a waymark for Goole docks.
Associated British Port building
To end the day we went to the Dolphin at Sutton on Sea for haddock and chips. I had a syrup sponge and custard. Julia had a banana fritter. Well, it was Valentine’s Day, and I thought she deserved a treat.