March's superb birding continued yesterday when the sea eagle that was on Hatfield Moors decided to shave past the reserve as it flew over the Ouse and across river above the Blacktoft village area, we had all piled out of the office and were lined up on a very windy river bank to see the distant eagle as it flew above the surrounding farmland! Unfortunately my photo's show it as a small dot despite it being such a large bird! 

Not my best photo ever, in fact probably my worse ever of any bird never mind a large eagle! its the black dot at the bottom of the picture

A lot more amenable have been the marsh harriers here at Blacktoft that have been putting on a fantastic spectacular show right in front of the hides from Xerox down to Singleton, I counted seven birds in the air all at once this morning all scrapping among themselves! Add to this a fairly regular male hen harrier, barn owls at dusk around Singleton hide and a few buzzards, peregrine and sparrowhawk then its a bird of prey bonanza! Here's a few shots from the last couple of days

Carrying nesting material

Males of varying ages fighting!

The wildfowl are certainly looking good with a report of the green-winged teal from yesterday, also of interest are up to six pink footed-geese, two whooper swans, and five barnacle geese that were on Ousefleet today, probably feral birds from the Humber breeding population but all the same nice to see. Good to see two goldeneye using Ousefleet lagoon at the moment, they have been scarce on the reserve this winter but our water levels are at last getting to where they should be so this is maybe why. Other duck on site include 200 wigeon, teal, gadwall, mallard, shovelers and up to eight pochard and a few tufted duck. 

Goldeneye on Ousefleet lagoon

Wigeon showing the green they often on their heads get in full breeding plumage

Barnacles

Pinkie in the field next the road

Shoveler in the wind

Nice to see a few avocets now regularly present on the reserve particularly in the morning at Marshland and Ousefleet hide, also a few redshank, lapwing, the pair of oystercatchers and still some amazingly obliging curlew often in front of Ousefleet hide, all the snipe seem to be in the reedbed at the moment which means they are only visible if they fly. We've not had chance to watch the high tides in the last two days but there may be a few waders (see last blog) coming up on tide. 

Avocets

It was rough out on the lagoons today!

And the curlew just get better and better!

A bit of video of two birds together

Other notable news has been the discovery out in the reedbed of a flock of 15 water pipits today, a pretty sizable number of this scarce wintering bird, other small birds of note seen despite the constant strong winds has been the first stonechat for quite a while and chiffchaff having the audacity to sing today in a gale force gale!

One thing for sure spring is determined to be early this year with the first cow slips found on the reserve this week, unfortunately not in a public area but those along the river bank on the way up to Ousefleet should start to emerge pretty soon. Out on Horseshoe meadow it was good to find some particularly nice coltsfoot flowers, one of my favourite signs of early spring and equally as nice was the fly species that was on it too - I'll have to see if I can identify when I have time. 

A lovely petite cow slip on a southerly facing bank

Coltsfoot and fly 

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