First day back in Halifax and I decided to head off. Chosen site? Blacktoft to hopefully get better views of the Monties and see the ring-necked duck that had been showing on and off there for a week or so.
I only narrowly made all my connections, with the train prior breaking down and meaning I missed a connecting train. The subsequent train got me to Goole 2 mins before the bus arrive, leaving me with that time to find the bus stop. Somehow I made it, and was on site for 10.
The RND had not been seen yet, so I thought about how best to approach my day. I decided to go and see the Spotted Redshanks first, as they were in full summer plumage, which is a plumage I have never seen before. There were 3 all lined up looking amazing in black, but they spent all their time sleeping, which kind of took the gloss off it. They only moved occasionally when flushed by a Lapwing, so I could not really get a good record shot. Either way they looked superb, but it would have been nicer if they were doing something.
After a while watching the spotshanks I moved on to the hide I had visited prior to look for the harriers. They were not showing, and I did not stay in that hide for long. I next moved on to the hide where the RND had been favoring. That was also not showing but I stayed in here a bit longer. There was an upstairs to this hide giving me more of a vantage point over the marsh, and I soon picked out the female Montagu's Harrier flying over the reeds.
It was distant, though she came a bit closer as she moved from right to left, but never close, and all my record shots were distant and nothing spectacular. Having said that, it meant I got to finally look and appreciate the birds, unlike last times fleeting glimpse which I messed up with the camera. And I have some record shots. Despite the lack of duck I was well pleased with how the day was progressing.
-Female Montagu's Harrier
The female came by a few times in the end, never close but good views could be had through the scope. I had to wait until mid afternoon before I got a look at the male, who was very distant and did not come particularly close.
Its the first time I have seen a male harrier that's not been a Marsh Harrier (which were in abundance on site) and I was pretty ecstatic about seeing it. It would have been nicer if he had come closer but I was more than pleased to have seen him. At one point, both he and a Marsh Harrier were in the air together, and at another point I saw both the female and male Monties flying together. What a superb bird, outstanding.
-Male Montagu's Harrier
Despite the lack of signal I was desperately refreshing the birdguides app to try and make sure that if the duck did appear I did not miss it. I did not get any information on the duck, but got a pleasant surprise when I saw a male Red-Necked Phalarope had been seen from the Singleton Hide. So I headed there.
As I arrived the rain began to pelt down, and before long there was a thunderstorm going on. The Phalarope looked less than impressed but once the storm had moved on it began to look a little happier. This is the first male of this species I have seen and was a bonus for the day out. It did not come especially close so I only got record shots but its still a superb looking little bird.
-Male Red-Necked Phalarope
I left the reserve at 5.00 feeling pretty pleased with a fine days birding. The other birds of note were a few distant Bearded Tits, but these were mere specks. The only downside was at 6.00, when waiting in Doncaster station I checked the news to see that the RND had been found again at 5.00 from the Singleton Hide, but you can't win them all.
Blacktoft Sands RSPB: Swift, Tree Sparrow, Gadwall, Shoveler, Woodpigeon, Grey Heron, Lapwing, Little Grebe, Spotted Redshank, Black-Headed Gull, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Coot, Little Egret, Reed Bunting, Tufted Duck, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Kestrel, House Martin, Swallow, Montagu's Harrier, Pochard, Starling, Shelduck, Pied Wagtail, Great Crested Grebe, Dunnock, Mute Swan, Linnet, Sedge Warbler, Wigeon, Goldfinch, Herring Gull, Avocet, Redshank, Sand Martin, Bearded Tit, Curlew, Chaffinch, Red-Necked Phalarope, Swallow, Moorhen, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Pheasant, Robin,