As birders we spend a fair bit of time looking up. Looking up into trees to spot that elusive arboreal beauty or staring into the sky tracking spoonbills, marsh harriers or flocks of sand martins. We usually have a pair of binoculars glued to our eyes which means we sometimes miss some of the splendour unfolding in front of us. So, this morning I decided to look down, and around me.

The first thing I saw was an enormous black slug. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you’re a gardener, but they do make a tasty meal for our avian friends and part of a healthy balanced ecosystem.

This one could easily become a Hedgehog meal or a song thrush might just swoop down and take it. As could this colourful snail :-

With this theme in mind I headed through the car park to have a look across the entrance to Horseshoe Meadow, being mindful that there are meadow flowers that I can’t identify let alone know how rare or sensitive they are so stayed close to the entrance and verge.

It’s looking fantastic now and there’s so much wildlife here.

Mimic hoverflies are abundant, they seemed to be everywhere.

Other invertebrates are much more problematic to identify (I find it a bit of a black art – a mystery to me). They’re fascinating, and as well as learning to identify them, they spur on more questions – like what is going to enjoy making a meal of it? Sand Martins perhaps? In which case this one has done well to survive the invasion of around 6000 martins a few days ago (see Pete’s blog for pics) a truly impressive spectacle.

I carried on looking down as I bimbled down to see the Koniks Ponies and have a look at the grazing meadow. The path down to Ousefleet is brimming with butterflies just now.

Ringlet.

Red Admiral.

Tortoiseshell.

Large White.

These are just a few of the flying things as I passed by.

The large white caught the eye of one of our younger members recently who was so enthused about Blacktoft Sands and the wildlife here he decided to draw a picture – here’s young George’s artistic endeavours :-

Thanks George we love it – it’s taken pride of place in our reception hide. Well Done !!

Of course I couldn’t go a whole blog without highlighting some of the ground birds (or those that tend to stay low).

Yellow wagtails are still showing well to the west of the reserve (especially in and around the grazing meadow). There’s been sightings of several juveniles and great views reported from Marshland hide this morning.

This dunnock was happy for me to creep up on him (really slowly). He was grabbing invertebrates from the edge of the path down to marshland hide.

The meadow pipits were happy bug chasing in the Koniks pony enclosure. As was this pied wagtail.

Other things to look out for (as you look down) are dragonflies. They often rest on leaves or in this case stoney sparse ground like this black tailed skimmer (I think):-

It’s really hard to stay focussed sometimes (no photography puns intended) so it wasn’t too long before I looked up again.

Spoonbills were/are still gathering at the reserve. They were at Marshland first thing but something spooked them and they headed off to Townend. They seem to be favouring this two lagoons.

We counted 13 of them today – but here’s just one looking majesterial as he preens :-

Other recent sightings include juvenile marsh harriers, weasels, green sandpipers, red shanks and snipe. There’s sure to be more waders arriving in the coming weeks and months so watch this space.

Ok, I can’t go a week without some gratuitous advertising. Join the team here at Blacktoft for daily news and updates on Twitter – yay we’ve joined the twitteratti !! Search for @Blacktoft_Sands for all the latest updates.

(Daz)

Anonymous