North Lincolnshire - 12th to 13th April 2007
Having never visited this area before, we decided to make an overnight stop south of the Humber Bridge and visit The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust's Far Ings Nature Reserve in the hope of picking up both Bittern and Bearded Tit which breed there. We also visited the new reserve at Alkborough, created where the river's flood defences have been breeched, opposite the RSPB's Blacktoft Sands Reserve.
We chose Best Western Reeds Hotel at Barton upon Humber in view of its location.
The hotel appears to be recently refurbished and fixtures and fittings are first class. Our room was a little on small side with double bed pushed up against one wall. It had been fitted out for disabled use and the bathroom area appeared to have been expanded at expense of bedroom size. Food was more than adequate, although a bit uninspiring, with a reasonable selection on evening menu. Breakfasts were good with an excellent choice and large portions. Rooms are in a block which runs E to W alongside the lakes at Far Ings and rooms on the south side have good views for birders. Rooms looking over the Humber have a raised river bank to contend with and are probably not as good for views. Tariff was a little high at £124 per night for a double with breakfast for two. Good parking, bar etc. Location for birding is excellent.
Alternate accommodation north of the Humber Bridge
Premier Travel Inn
Next to Home Farm Brewers Fayre. Looks OK and modern but is a basic Travel Lodge.
Far Ings reserve has a small Visitor Centre and toilet facilities, although a bit basic. The reserve is always open but the Visitor Centre only opens weekends 11.00hrs to 17.00hrs and Wednesday afternoons. There are two good hides, but the rest are old and very tired – oh, and small.
Alkborough has a small car park but no other facilities. The access road is not signed but can be found from the centre of the village immediately left after the church, leading down a narrow road, then unmade track to the flooded fields and saltmarsh. From the small car park two tracks follow the boundary of the main flooded area, one heading west towards the River Trent and Blacktoft and the other heading north along a raised bank towards the River Humber. This site is so new its potential is still being explored and developed.
Being in the area, we also visited Blacktoft Sands, just over the county border in Yorkshire and one of our personal favourites, which has all the facilities you would expect of an RSPB reserve.
Also in the area and worth a visit later in the season, when the local breeding migrants have arrived, is Thorne Moor (with the adjacent Crowle Moor and Hatfield Moor) for Nightjar, Nightingale, Woodcock, Tree Pipit, Whitethroat, Grasshopper Warbler, Hobby and the elusive Long-eared Owl.
Alkborough, on the 12th April, held a variety of waders including c20 Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank and Lapwing and a lingering Little Stint. Water bird numbers were well down from their over-wintering peaks and in addition to a mixed flock of Linnet and Reed Bunting, there were numerous singing Skylark and we picked up our first Swallow of the year. The occasional Marsh Harrier was seen quartering the pools and outlying areas giving 21 species in total.
We visited Far Ings in the late afternoon on 12th and early morning on 13th April and searched in vain for a visiting drake Garganey. We also missed out on Bittern and Bearded Tit. In fact, species wise, the site was a little disappointing. We saw the occasional Snipe, Marsh Harrier, Tree Sparrow and Bullfinch, but with only 35 species overall from two visits, it just wasn't our day (or two!).
On 13th April we briefly called in at Blacktoft Sands and although we only had a short stay in each of the hides, we saw 38 species, including the usual water birds, Marsh Harrier, c50 Avocet, c40 Black-tailed Godwit, plus 2 Little Ringed Plover and 2 Oystercatcher amongst the Dunlin and Redshank.
54 species in all over two days is not much to write home about, but we had visited two new sites and one old favourite and had enjoyed some fresh air and great weather.
Bird Species Trip List (Excel)
David & Amanda Mason
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