Coach Trip to Blacktoft Sands & Old Moor 13th March 2016
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Early on a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning a select group of ‘birders’ sallied forth to Yorkshire; spirits were high. Unfortunately these were soon dampened when we reached the summit of the Pennines – thick fog! However this fog dispersed on our descent and, on arrival at Blacktoft Sands, the skies had brightened yet again.

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Blacktoft Sands is a RSPB reserve situated on the River Ouse, east of Goole. It is famous for its extensive reed beds and hence waterfowl. As per usual, we split up into smaller groups. In the car park we stopped to admire the colony of Tree Sparrows. The birds were actively exploring their nest boxes in anticipation of the oncoming nesting season.

From the hides we saw several Marsh Harriers including a pair cavorting on the thermals! Buzzard and Kestrel were also seen. Several Snipe were spotted despite being well camouflaged in the long reeds. Some individuals even saw a Water rail here! From other hides the delicate looking Avocets were clearly visible. Other waders noted, were flocks of Black-tailed Godwit and Lapwing. Tufted ducks, Teal, Little grebe and Shoveler, to name but a few ducks, were seen. Greylag geese were abundant. The usual array of hedgerow birds were seen, primarily on the feeders though some people lucky enough to spot a Cetti’s warbler in the undergrowth. Reed Buntings were clearly visible in the reed beds but alas no Bearded Tits were spotted here, though they could be heard.

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After 3 hours of successful birdwatching, we transferred to another RSPB reserve - Old Moor. Old Moor forms part of the Dearne Valley complex and is located between Barnsley and Doncaster. There are several lakes on which both waders and ducks were visible. However some less common species were spotted, namely a Mediterranean Gull and a Green sandpiper but the highlight had to be the sighting of Bearded Tits. Eureka! A Water rail was again seen here. Sauntering past the Tree Sparrow walk, a Redpoll was spotted along with Yellowhammer, various other tits, Tree Sparrows and Chaffinch. Some individuals even saw Brambling.

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During the day, a total of 72 different species of birds were sighted including Grey heron, Redshanks and Red grouse but alas no owls.

Spring has sprung! This was a truly wonderful day out and we were further rewarded, whilst journeying home along the Woodhead Pass, with a magnificent sunset.

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Photos by Robert D

CHRIS B

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