Sunday, 31 August 2014

Faxfleet and Whitton Sands

Faxfleet is a little village sited on fenland where the rivers Ouse and Trent meet to form the Humber. From the path on the bank, there are sweeping views to the Wolds (above), and across to RSPB Blacktoft Sands nature reserve, Alkborough Flats and the largest sand bank in the Humber, Whitton Sands. I was looking forward to the visit today, as last time I saw Bearded Tits and heard a Cuckoo. I had an early morning visit with Robert Jaques, high fluffy clouds and a little bit of a breeze, cool, but warming up towards the end, when the sun shone a bit more. The small car park by Faxfleet was busy with Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Reed Buntings, Tree Sparrows, Great and Blue Tits and a bright, very yellow Willow Warbler, which were either feeding on the ground or on the trees. Swallows circled around. We walked west towards the ponds, in which we watched a family of Coots, a Moorhen and a Little Grebe with a young one in tow.
We turned our sights over the reedbeds across the estuary. Flocks of Greylag sat on the mudflats of Blacktoft Sands, with some Shelduck, Lapwings and Black-Headed gulls. Robert noticed a couple of large white birds, with dark legs, resting with their heads under their wings amongst the Greylags. We concluded they should be Spoonbills, a lifer for me. It would have been a bit disappointing to meet the Spoonbill and not see its 'spoon', so we hung around wishing for them to wake up from their slumber. Fortunately, a quartering Marsh Harrier caused a bit of a commotion on ducks and gulls, and finally, the mystery birds woke up, confirming that they were indeed Spoonbills. They preened a bit and walked about and, satisfied with this, we turned east toward Whitton Sands. In the way, we tried to make sense of a strange assemblage of warblers: Reed, Whitethroat and a Blackcap on a hawthorn hedge.
 Along the bank we were nicely surprised by three Yellow Wagtails. We made a stop by a drinking trough, by a bit of a spit, where the reedbed was narrower, allowing us to watch Whitton Sands. The sandbank is covered on an extensive reedbed, matching the one by Faxfleet foreshore, but there was a grassy bank on the east end, exposed during high tide. Two young Grey Herons, each sat by its muddy gully. A Marsh Harrier made a brief appearance. Greylags and Canada Geese sat on the grass.
 On the way back the clouds parted a bit and a few invertebrates were evident. Common Carder bees fed on the Red Clover, a Small Tortoiseshell was about and a Furrow Spider, Larinioides cornutus, hid in her silky retreat.
Distant shot of the slumbering Spoonbills
One woke up...
...and joined the other one for a little preen
Reed Warbler preening
A strange, grey-headed young Goldfinch
Pair of Reed Buntings on the car park
Yellow Wagtail
A view of the Humber with Whitton Sands on the background
Geese on Whitton Sands, with the Wolds on the background
Small White
Larinioides cornutus

Bird list
  1. Black-headed Gull
  2. Blackbird
  3. Blackcap
  4. Blue Tit
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Carrion Crow
  7. Collared Dove
  8. Coot
  9. Cormorant
  10. Dunnock
  11. Feral Pigeon
  12. Goldfinch
  13. Great Black-backed Gull
  14. Great Tit
  15. Greenfinch
  16. Grey Heron
  17. Greylag Goose
  18. House Martin
  19. Jackdaw
  20. Linnet
  21. Little Grebe
  22. Magpie
  23. Marsh Harrier
  24. Moorhen
  25. Pheasant
  26. Reed Bunting
  27. Reed Warbler
  28. Robin
  29. Shelduck
  30. Song Thrush
  31. Spoonbill
  32. Starling
  33. Swallow
  34. Tree Sparrow
  35. Whitethroat
  36. Willow Warbler
  37. Woodpigeon
  38. Wren
  39. Yellow Wagtail


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