Today I had a fantastic day out at Blacktoft Sands near Goole. It’s always a brilliant place to find birds, and today it really came up trumps.
Things started very well, with several ruff showing well, and an avocet (the first of many) flying over. From the Marshland Hide (by far the best hide on the whole reserve), we got black-tailed godwit, spotted redshank (still resplendent in summer plumage), redshank, dunlin, oystercatcher and lapwing. By far the best spots were a barn owl peering from the owl box and occasionally poking its head out, and distant but good views of bearded tits frollicking around in the reedbeds.
Further on, the reserves marsh harriers (one pictured below) put on their usual show, visible from most of the hides at various parts of the day, and I got a very distant view of a bittern (which a fellow birder in a hide pointed out to me, and was a tiny disappearing speck in the sky before I managed to find it!). Sedge warblers were singing and annoying difficult to find, but I was treated to two very good views, and one of the best sights of the entire day was watching a hunting barn owl later in the day.
On the way back we had a very unexpected sight – a huge white bird flew towards us, over the M18 just Junction 4 near Armthorpe. At first I presumed it was a heron, but I realised it was flying with its neck out, and as it flew over the car its true identity was completely unmistakable – a beautiful white stork! There are escapes that do the rounds, so I’m not sure of the origins of this one (and zooming past on the motorway isn’t the best time to check for rings and tags…). What does everyone think to chances of this bird being a genuine vagrant?
EDIT – I think I’m going to put this down as one of the escaped Harewood birds, unless anyone can persuade me otherwise!