RSPB Walsall Local Group
a million voices for nature
28 April 2002
This trip was carried over from 2001, as the reserve was undergoing remedial work when we had planned to visit.
Blacktoft Sands is an RSPB reserve. It lies where the Ouse meets the Trent (the latter carrying water from the Tame, which passes through Walsall at Bescot!), about 35 miles from Spurn Point, possesses one of the largest areas of reedbed in Britain, and is about 474 acres (192 hectares) in size.
A journey of some 2½ hours took us to the reserve on a sunny day with a stiff breeze. Almost as soon as we got out of the car, a group of Tree Sparrows moved along the hedgerow in front of us - not easy to see amongst the Hawthorn leaves, but a good start to the day. Moving towards the visitor centre, we picked up a few of the commoner birds such as Greenfinch and Swallow, before seeing a Marsh Harrier soaring on a thermal in the distance. We were then distracted by a Grasshopper Warbler reeling not far away - it proved very elusive and we didn't see it until we returned from the visitor centre some while later. The bird had taken up a position in a small clump of reeds situated in a clearing within the reedbed and could be seen very clearly from the path. It continued to call for up to ten minutes at a time, without apparently breathing.
Moving on to the scrapes we picked up a good selection of water birds, such as Shoveler, Teal and a male Scaup. A few waders were present, the most notable being Avocet, Ringed Plover and Curlew.
In the afternoon, we visited the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust's * Far Ings reserve, in the shadow of the Humber Bridge, where we had very good views of a Marsh Harrier resting in a tree, but by now a very storing wind was blowing and very few birds were showing.
Mike Pittaway (Field Trips Organiser)
Other birds seen included: