• You never can tell – Interesting times!

    Well, what a stellar week that was for me personally – and for many of our visitors. I’d have been perfectly happy with the spotted crake that spent a few days earlier in the week but then to follow it up with a Little Crake was absolutely superb. It just goes to show that with nature you never can tell what’s going to happen. As Pete mentioned in his blog the other day it’s 73 years since one was last seen in Yorkshire…

    • 22 Sep 2019
  • Hit, miss and all change

    Amazing what a day or two does at this time of year here on the Sands, as soon as the weather changes then many birds ship out and then are gradually replaced by other species that prefer the different conditions to migrate. But of course this is what makes birding for me so interesting, you never quite know what to expect and certainly you can never quite seem to second guess what is going to happen!

    So it certainly…

    • 20 Sep 2019
  • Quantity and quality! Little crake on Marshland

    September is certainly turning out to be very memorable indeed with this morning the Doncaster RSPB group finding a crake on Marshland lagoon, when I heard I was certainly interested as I'd been videoing the spotted crake on Singleton lagoon earlier? When I saw the pictures of the crake I tried my very best to not blurt anything out too naughty as it was clear that the bird in question was either little or ballions…

    • 17 Sep 2019
  • Hiding in Plain Sight

    It’s been an exciting week here at “the Sands”. Earlier in the week we had the harrier triple (see Pete’s blog) of Montagu’s, Hen and Marsh – of course I missed the first two but, still, you’ve got to love the Marshies!

    Then a spotted crake appeared and kept people busy by merging in with the water rail. Stuart (one of our assistant wardens) counted 7 water rails as he spent the…

    • 15 Sep 2019
  • Reserve just hooching with birds!

    This morning the reserve right across all the lagoons was absolutely hooching with both number and quality of birds on high tide. Rather than write about everything here are just a few pictures from yesterday evening and this morning. Tide is about 8am tomorrow and the reserve gates should be open by then unless I'm delayed. 

    Best birds this morning were spotted crake, 2 spoonbills, little stint, 2 curlew sandpipers…

    • 13 Sep 2019
  • A triple harrier showdown! (Species that is)

    Amazing!, You really need your wits about you on the reserve at the moment as there are now three species of harrier , marsh, Montagu's and now hen harrier! There can't be too many places around the country that can give you the chance of all three species in one day, so if you see a ringtail harrier make sure you take a few notes, or pictures and just make sure you have identified your bird correctly! 

    I always…

    • 11 Sep 2019
  • Autumns coming early

    Yes it is only early September but over the last few days both the weather and birds has really made it feel like Autumn has arrived early with pink-footed geese arriving in number, wigeon, pintail and shelduck moving west, teal numbers building up on the recently re-wet Ousefleet, swallows and martins moving south in earnest and this morning a discernible rise in the number of chiffchaffs and an arrival of goldcrest…

    • 9 Sep 2019
  • Just in the nick of time! The lagoons get a drab of water

    Its been a pretty full on last few days here on the Sands with some excellent birding as August passes into September, and right at the last the tides relented and allowed us to get a little bit of water onto some of the lagoons that will help us last through to the end of the month and attract any passing waifs and strays. Marshland hide was looking particularly good this afternoon with over 10 species of wader plus…

    • 3 Sep 2019
  • Thunder, lightning - its wader time!

    There's been some pretty good wader watching over the last few days with last nights thunder and lightning resulting in a few migrant birds dropping onto the lagoons, but I suppose the star bird has to have been 'our' female Montagu's harrier that has returned to site and shown pretty well on an off over the last five or so days. 

    She's just about completed her moult and will be getting ready to return…

    • 28 Aug 2019
  • Essential Maintenance Work 27/28.08.19

    The Warden and staff team would like to apologise that Ousefleet Hide will be closed on Tues 27th & Weds 28th August for essential maintenance work replacing the roof. The rest of the reserve will be open as usual and sure to provide some fantastic birding and wildlife.

    • 26 Aug 2019
  • The Return of Mrs Monty

    Exciting times at Blacktoft the last couple of days. The female Montagu’s Harrier is back! She was first spotted early yesterday (approx. 9.30am 24.08.19) to a packed reception hide. As you can imagine there was much debate as she cruised west across the reserve. She was a little distant (flying over the river) at the back of the reserve but thanks to a new set of bins her white rump and tail bars were clearly visible…

    • 25 Aug 2019
  • A Hide With A View

    Firstly let me offer my apologies. Our warden team have been really busy the last couple of weeks cutting back new growth. So far our attention has been cast towards Xerox and today the team are beavering away at Marshland. We’ve closed the hide for the day so that the work can be completed as quickly as possible minimising disruption to wildlife and visitors alike. The upshot of the work is much improved views – especially…

    • 20 Aug 2019
  • What a difference a year makes.

    This time last year we were basking in glorious weather amidst a sustained heatwave. This year we’ve not been quite as lucky weather wise and it’s a touch soggy and much cooler today. It certainly hasn’t stopped the wildlife though.

    Spoonbills are still our star attraction. 10 were counted on the lagoon at Ousefleet hide this morning and (when I visited) a solitary one at Marshland hide.

    Photo credit…

    • 16 Aug 2019
  • Is it really summer?

    It’s amazing the difference a little time makes. A couple of weeks ago we had the hottest day of the year and the reserve felt more like the Borneo jungle than a prime Humber nature reserve. Yesterday we had near tropical storm rain proportions and today we have the winds to match.

    There’s still tons of wildlife around though. The wader count has been fantastic, going some way to proving our recent predictions.…

    • 10 Aug 2019
  • Hitting new heights - spoonbill count reaches 24!

    It seems its all about the numbers game here on the lagoons at the moment with an amazing record reserve count this morning of 24 spoonbills, backed up by 24 spotted redshank and 22 ruff and a whole host of different quality species over the last few days including yesterday the re-appearance of the now moulting female Montagu's harrier.

    Photo's by Peter Ramsden

    Yesterday evening Townend lagoon looked fantastic…

    • 6 Aug 2019
  • A Deceit of Lapwings

    It’s been amazing to see so many people at the reserve this week. But then it’s amazing to see so many birds as well.

    There’s been a plethora of lapwings around. Brilliant news considering how they have faired in recent years, and there’s been a good quantity of young ones around too. The loss of rough grazing land amongst other things, often cited as a major cause of decline in lapwings since the 1980’s,…

    • 4 Aug 2019
  • Right in the midst of migration

    There's nothing like a bit of inclement summer weather to give a bit of bird interest here on the Sands and the last few days has certainly proved that with plenty to see not least the amazing 20 spoonbills! 

    A pretty awe inspiring sight - flocks of spoonbills!

    And at times some real close up views

    A juvenile landing on Marshland

     And it was also good to see the reserve sharing in the countrywide influx of wood…

    • 31 Jul 2019
  • Welcome to the Jungle

    Phew what a week its been here on the reserve with plenty to see all round including birds, insects and flowers, but certainly a busy week on the work front with plenty to keep the team busy as the Koniks had their feet trimmed by the farrier and our hay meadows were cut and bailed for hay. 

    Hay ready to be baled on Horseshoe meadow

    Waders passage is now certainly getting going at last with a semi-decent range and number…

    • 26 Jul 2019
  • The Heatwave continues !!

    Heat Wave

    With soaring temperatures more suited to the Caribbean it’s been great to see more waders dropping in to feed around the lush fringes of the lagoons and the muddy edges of scrape. There’s been a diverse range over the last few days with Xerox hide featuring well and Townend and Marshland hides providing plenty of variety too.

    Ruff.

    6 Ruff appeared at Xerox lagoon but visible from reception yesterday…

    • 23 Jul 2019
  • The breeding season just gets better and better! Great news for 'our' avocets

    Some fantastic news over the last few days here on the Humber is that avocets are fledging young from the lagoon that we created back in 2017 out on Whitton Island! See this link -   https://community.rspb.org.uk/placestovisit/blacktoftsands/b/blacktoftsands-blog/posts/putting-the-wetland-into-whitton It really is outstanding news because even though we create this new estuarine habitat we can only live in hope that it delivers…

    • 17 Jul 2019
  • Looking Up

    As birders we spend a fair bit of time looking up. Looking up into trees to spot that elusive arboreal beauty or staring into the sky tracking spoonbills, marsh harriers or flocks of sand martins. We usually have a pair of binoculars glued to our eyes which means we sometimes miss some of the splendour unfolding in front of us. So, this morning I decided to look down, and around me.

    The first thing I saw was an enormous…

    • 14 Jul 2019
  • Sand martins and spoonbills

    This last couple of days seems to have been dominated by our marvellous spoonbills and then when the weather was overcast a fantastic gathering of 6000 roosting sand martins. On some days there has been up to 14 very entertaining spoonbills, and just stop and think for a moment - apart from starlings when did you last see a gathering of 6000 sand martins or any other small passerine? 

    Sand martins at Singleton

    The sp…

    • 12 Jul 2019
  • Feeding Frenzy

    In my early birding days I’d listen to some of the “old folk” saying this time of year is slow for birding. I don’t agree. It’s all happening at the moment ranging from parent birds sitting on the nest, like this little grebe (surely we’ll have hatchlings soon!).

    To juvenile marsh harriers lazily soaring across the reed bed. It’s fantastic to see such diversity.

    I counted 5…

    • 9 Jul 2019
  • New things and old – Fledgling season.

    It’s a fantastic time of year where new things and fledglings abound and that includes me. I’ve been working at the reserve for a couple of months now and still feeling a little shiny and new. Thankfully I’m surrounded by a fantastic team of people (including volunteers) who have a wealth of experience and knowledge. Some of which I’m in awe of but it’s a pleasure to be amongst. Talk about a steep learning curve!…

    • 5 Jul 2019
  • Fledgling barn owls give top evening entertainment.

    There is no doubt that the 2019 breeding season is still very much in the swing of it with fledgling birds all over the place but then many broods of some species just hatching, it makes for some very entertaining birding both in the mornings and evenings here on the Sands although even in the heat of the day there is always something to see particularly a plethora of insects. 

    And I suspect there is non more quite entertaining…

    • 5 Jul 2019