Exciting times at Blacktoft the last couple of days. The female Montagu’s Harrier is back! She was first spotted early yesterday (approx. 9.30am 24.08.19) to a packed reception hide. As you can imagine there was much debate as she cruised west across the reserve. She was a little distant (flying over the river) at the back of the reserve but thanks to a new set of bins her white rump and tail bars were clearly visible. She was seen several times during the day and we received a tweet later in the evening stating she was still around. Mrs Monty has appeared again today (11.45am 25.08.19) so who knows she may well stay around a while hunting across the reserve. Sadly my pics were woefully inadequate – not helped by heat haze but widely off the mark as well.

Lots of other raptors have been enjoying the sun too with peregrine zipping through the reserve and a couple of kestrels playing chicken with a couple of crows over the grazing marsh.

Hobby has also been reported – probably chasing the plethora of dragonflies especially at Ousefleet lagoon viewed through the screen to the right of the main hide.

Dragonflies are particularly spectacular at this time of year and voracious predators to other insects and eat mosquitoes and other bitey insects so they are very ok with me! They don’t sting either. They don’t have teeth but do have strong mandibles which they use to crunch through their prey. Even the big ones would struggle to break human skin and as such are perfectly harmless and very beautiful.

This Southern Hawker crashed the party in reception today.

There has been plenty of them around and can be seen across the reserve. Probably the most numerous dragonfly has been the ruddy darters. They seem to be everywhere!

This one conveniently landed on the small bug hotel. It always worth taking a look at these magnificent beasts. We’ve seen plenty of brown darters as well.

The bird life around the reserve has been pretty spectacular too. Marsh Harriers continue to impress and entertain. This one was shot (with a camera of course) by Mike Noble.

The Marsh Harriers have done really well breeding this year with around 22 juveniles fledging. Although this is a fantastic number it does mean that many of them have dispersed. There’s still plenty giving great views.

Wader numbers are consistently rising too. Red Shanks and Avocets have been very numerous and are displaying well.

Red Shank @ Singleton

Avocet @ Townend

It’s a long list of waders to report so here goes. Redshank, Avocet, Little Egret, Green Sandpiper, Green Shank, Snipe, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper, Ruff and this little ring plover.

Little Ring Plover @ Townend

Have I mentioned the Montagu’s Harrier has been spotted the last couple of days? … Ohh I have.

Apologies for it being a short blog today but time is limited.

See you all at the reserve