Sunday, 3 May 2015

Magic Montagu's

I was really looking forward to this weekend as at the start of the week I heard about a pair of Montagu's Harriers which were breeding at Blacktoft Sands which was just under an hour away!
As soon as the clock hit around 6.30am on a cracking Saturday morning we were off. This is one species I have always wanted to see so I was really looking to seeing them.

As we left the car we spotted a small bird making its way through the vegetation, at one point I managed to get my bins on it and saw that it was a very nice Reed Warbler. As we walked to the main entrance the reeds were alive with bird song mainly with Reed and Sedge Warblers but later on we heard and had brief views of a Cetti's Warbler. We rushed over to the Singleton Hide as that was were the Harriers were best viewed from. Within only a couple of minutes we had our first brief view of the cracking male Montagu's Harrier, it didn't really stay long but it was still amazing to see. After about half an hour the hide started to fill up and it became a lot more cramped. Thankfully though we got a seat early. We had to wait about another 20mins and we had more brief of the female Montagu's Harrier. We spent about another 1hr to 2hrs waiting and thankfully they showed really well towards the end, both were up for a very good 5-10mins which was awesome to see, even though they were a little distant they were both brilliant to see! Plus to see a breeding pair was awesome! Here is a couple of record shots I managed to get. Over the hide we spotted our first Swift of the year plus there was plenty of Marsh Harriers flying over the reeds plus many pairs we food dropping.

Montagu's Harriers


Marsh Harrier
We then went to the Reception Hide where we saw a few Avocets and a flypast Little Egret. We then moved onto the Xerox Hide where we were hoping to see a pair of Garganey which had been seen there early that morning. My Dad almost immediately spotted them on one of the islands in the middle of the lake. Sadly though they were both asleep, (great...) the only time they were awake was when a Marsh Harrier flew low over the islands but both of them were very nice to see. There was also a Greenshank wading in front of the hide.

We then went to the Marshland Hide where on the way we spotted a Whitethroat and a Blackcap. From the Hide there was lots of nesting Black headed Gulls plus there was a Little Grebe right in front of the hide.
Little Grebe
We did visit a few other hides but there wasn't much out of the ordinary. On the way back we went to North Cave in hope of getting a few year ticks. When we arrived we had a look across village bay where we saw 2 Ruff. One of them was in cracking plumage.
When we reached the Reedbed Lake we had a few target species such as Little Ringed Plovers and Wood Sandpipers. We spotted a distant Ringed Plover but no Little Rings. Suddenly most of the Lapwings lifted, I looked up to see 2 small birds of prey going over head, I looked through my bins to see that they were a pair of Hobbies! a great year tick! Thankfully the Hobbies lifted a few more waders and we managed to spot 2 Little Ringed Plovers on the closer islands. We then headed of to the newish hide at the top of the reserve where right in front of the hide we spotted 3 stunning Yellow Wagtails! These are probably one of my fav birds. Also distantly we had our first 2 Common Terns of the year plus we had a distant Common Sandpiper.

Yellow Wagtails


  1. That's a great account of a top day. Some beautiful photos and really interesting read. Well done Ellis.