At Blacktofts, we chatted with the volunteer in the visitors centre for a little while when we arrived. We saw our first Marsh Harrier from there too, the first of many seen throughout the visit. It was fairly quiet at first and we headed right out of the visitors centre to the Xerox Hide.
We saw a couple of Ruff, lots of Lapwings, Greenshank and a few Mallard too. Onto the Marshland hide where a couple of guys in there pointed out one of the Barn Owls in the distance, too far for a photo but we could see through the binoculars. As we sat and watched the Little Egrets along the waters edge a pair of deer - female and youngster walked right in front of the hide! What a lovely moment that was!
Ruff and Lapwings
Walking along the Ousefleet Trail we had to dodge a few Froglets hopping about in the grass, a few Butterflies were along the banks too. Looking through the viewing screen by the hide at the end we had to avoid what looks like a fairly fresh Barn Owl pellet.
From the hide itself there were quite a few Greylag Geese on the grass and a couple of Curlews too. Around the hide a Sedge Warbler was flying about and off to the side a Wren family were low in the bushes.
Now walking back along the trail we had a bit of drama. I, for some reason never ever get bitten by anything......ever, today that changed when I felt a bite on my leg and looked down to see a Horse Fly happily sat there!! I managed to get it off pretty quick but of course it wouldn't leave me alone so we quickly headed off the trail. My daughter was not happy though it didn't go near her at all and we weren't bothered again for the rest of our time there.
Onto to Singleton hide to see the Spoonbills that have been on the reserve for a little while. Most of them were stood in a group but a couple moved off to sweep those amazing bills through the water.
In the Townend hide we saw Snipe, Ruff, Geese and Heron. A short heavy rain shower blew across the reserve so we waited it out before walking back to the car. My husband spotted a Treecreeper by the little pond in the car park.
We then took a very scenic route to North Cave Wetlands and actually saw a couple of Marsh Harriers as we drove. It had cooled off a little and was quite breezy by the time we got there and it wasn't very busy.
There were a few Froglets on the path plus Damselflies and a few butterflies too. From the Turret Hide we watched Rabbits, Snipe, Shelduck, Pied Wagtails, Redshank and Little Ringed Plover.
Common Blue Damselfly
The reserve is covered in Ragwort and after a little search we found plenty of Cinnabar Moth caterpillars and one as yet unidentified caterpillar too.
Lots of the Greylag Geese kept flying off the water and into a field by the reserve. I found in a spot where we have seen Thrush before a stone surrounded by broken up snail shells.
Not long after this the Horse Fly made itself known again, this time my husband was the victim! A quick walk on to inspect the damage - except we hadn't walked far enough and the damn thing attached itself to my leg and I practically had to prise it off. My daughter was long gone up the path and out onto the lane! Luckily none of the bites ended up being too bad though I still have a small lump even now - bit of a novelty for me, hopefully not one that will be repeated. I guess I might have to try insect repellent in future??
We sat in the hide a while till my daughter calmed down, I think flies are now added along with Butterflies/Moths to her list of things to be scared of! Still we did watch Terns fighting off Crows and a large Gull - Lesser black-backed I think, one of the Terns eventually chased it off and almost pulled a tail feather out.
Lesser black-backed Gull
Back towards the car and we watched Sand Martins flying over the water and I spotted an all white one - too far for a decent photo but you can see a white blob the pic below!
Despite the hungry flies we had a good day!