• All at sea - eagle!

    March's superb birding continued yesterday when the sea eagle that was on Hatfield Moors decided to shave past the reserve as it flew over the Ouse and across river above the Blacktoft village area, we had all piled out of the office and were lined up on a very windy river bank to see the distant eagle as it flew above the surrounding farmland! Unfortunately my photo's show it as a small dot despite it being such…

    • 14 Mar 2019
  • Hen harriers, marsh harriers and waders give some inspirational birding

    Funny on Sunday I'd just been talking with reception volunteer Barry about how amazing the jousting and leg raking marsh harriers were in front of reception and reminiscing that if we'd been watching the six marshies that were so breathtakingly close and spectacular back in the 1970's and 80's we'd have thought we'd have gone to heaven! But even today these beautiful birds were I thought just as…

    • 11 Mar 2019
  • A very varied week - hen harriers, chiffchaffs, green-winged teal, avocet, ruff and brent goose

    It seems like every day this week has brought something different with even at times even the days varying from morning to late afternoon but there is no doubt that spring is on the way with this morning the first sky dancing male marsh harrier greeting me as I walked onto the reserve this morning spectacularly displaying hundreds of feet above the reserve and then the black-headed gulls noisily gathering on Marshland…

    • 8 Mar 2019
  • 2019 Events Listings April to September

    For once we seem to have sorted ourselves out and got together our events listings for 2019! We will advertise them as they occur but for anyone interested and who wants to plan ahead then here is the full listing to September. 

    To book please contact the Blacktoft office on 01405 704665 or e-mail the Blacktoft inbox blacktoft.sands@rspb.org.uk.

    Please note the office is open 9 till 5 Monday to Friday but we can be busy…

    • 7 Mar 2019
  • Green-winged teal - in March for the third year running!

    Strange how green-winged teal keeps turning up in March every year at the moment - this one is still on site today and apparently displaying to the other teals! I suspect the run of records is the same bird but then birds never quite do things that you think they should, it could just as easily be a different bird every time!

    Funny but they often say American green-winged teal but in reality they do nest over into Asia…

    • 6 Mar 2019
  • Don't you just love March's unpredictability?

    March for me is always an exciting time for birding here at Blacktoft as you really just don't know what is going to turn up, what with birds leaving the UK for their breeding grounds, and new migrants arriving from their winter quarters further south it really does spice things up a little.

    Curlews and Koniks - a great example of how well curlews blend in with the fields

    Recently there has been a lot about the loss…

    • 4 Mar 2019
  • A bountiful wealth of wildfowl and waders

    With the weather feeling more like its Mid June during the day many birds seem to be on the move at the moment or declaring their breeding territories as they sing from the reedbeds and willow scrub. And despite a bit of fog at the weekend there has been times when the light has been lovely for getting good views of the many varied birds that have been showing.

    The first signs of whooper swan passage have included two…

    • 27 Feb 2019
  • All is shining bright - Spring in February

    It certainly feels like we are having a Mediterranean spring at the moment both weather and bird wise here on the Sands, plants are growing, birds are singing and blossom is emerging but is the wildlife being also lulled into a false spring?

    Comma butterfly yesterday on the office roof!

    In reality it was water we really needed to help fill up the wetland ready for the breeding season and on Wednesday morning our prayers…

    • 22 Feb 2019
  • Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud!

    With all the nice weather recently there has been renewed usage of the reserve and the arrival of a few of the wetland birds that tend to leave us for the winter, and its been very nice to welcome them back and have at last a bit more variety on site again even though the nice weather may yet prove to be another false spring! 

    No doubt that the barn owls have been superb on an evening particularly from first hide down…

    • 18 Feb 2019
  • Heading back east!

    The last couple of days have certainly hinted that birds are now starting to think about heading back to their Scandinavian breeding grounds as there has been a resurgence in the number of blackbirds, redwings and fieldfares as well as a single brambling and today the years first siskin. Other hints of movement were two goldeneye feeding on Xerox lagoon on Sunday and the first returning little grebe on Marshland this…

    • 12 Feb 2019
  • The first signs of spring!

    This morning the ice had at last cleared from the lagoons and the wildfowl had returned to feed on them, skylarks were singing everywhere, tree sparrows taking nesting material into the boxes and our little colony of snow drops had just stared to poke their heads out of the vegetation and begun to bloom, yes all of a sudden its feeling like spring.

    Snowdrops in the reedbed along the path to Ousefleet

    Interesting fact…

    • 6 Feb 2019
  • Creating good feeding for curlew - is it all about organic content?

    Over the last couple of years I've been regularly taking the opportunity to look at the Curlews (and other species too) feeding along the Upper Humber, study, photograph and video them and look at what habitat they are preferring to use. Part of this was originally to look at how we used our grazing animals here at Blacktoft to ensure we maintained feeding habitat for what is currently one of Europe's fastest declining…

    • 4 Feb 2019
  • Celebrating World Wetlands Day along the Humber!

    Tomorrow the 2nd February is World Wetlands Day, and for us on the Humber reserves team there is nothing more important than a day when you celebrate the importance of places that are so important for the survival of so many species of wetland bird.

    Reads Island looking towards the Humber bridge with golden plover, the Humber - it can like most estuaries be a busy place!

    And what better way to celebrate than to announce…

    • 1 Feb 2019
  • Battle of the big guns!

    Well I promised in the last blog that I'd tell the story about the stunning male peregrine in pictures as not only was it an amazing sequence of events to watch I also managed to get some nice photo's and video to accompany it! 

    I do have to say though that it actually took place on North Duffield Carrs near York where me and my partner Masha were out on an away day, I just thought it was a great example for us…

    • 31 Jan 2019
  • Wetland wonders and raptor heaven

    The year's birding is really starting to heat up at the moment despite the chilly feel with at last the return of a couple of hen harriers, regular merlin, plenty of marsh harriers, peregrine and up to three beautiful barn owls hunting over the reedbed and grassland.

    This little beauty was in front of Xerox hide this morning

    Merlin on top of one of the bushes

    Juvenile peregrine at the kill - I'll be doing a bit of…

    • 29 Jan 2019
  • Snow but no big freeze up!

    The last week here on the Sands has at last started to see a bit of much needed winter arrive with frosts and a wee flurry of snow last night that gave a light dusting across the reserve. This proper winter weather coupled with the birds, sunrises and also the night skies that have been happening recently seems to have brought a very special feel to the reserve which I can only describe as mythological, of times past…

    • 23 Jan 2019
  • This mornings blood red, wolf moon eclipse

    A few pictures from this morning of the lunar eclipse on what was supposed to be a blood moon and also a wolf moon, in the end well worth getting up for at 4am as it was clear here on the Lincolnshire/East Yorkshire although quite chilly! Using different camera settings produced different results in terms of colour. Very lucky for the sky to be almost clear for most of the time! 

    I'll sequence them through from start to…

    • 21 Jan 2019
  • Here comes winter.......

    It was a lovely chilly minus three this morning on the thermometer as I waited for the car windows to defrost. I know many people don't like the cold but it really is just what the countryside needed to help balance itself out.

    When I arrived on the reserve I was greeted with a good hard ground frost, the first time in ages that the cold has frozen the surface of the soil, it will certainly do our little Horseshoe…

    • 18 Jan 2019
  • A False Spring?

    At last this morning there was a bit of mid-winter sunshine to warm the heart and with it a few signs of spring across the reserve's lagoons with mallards chasing each other and greylags pairing up and looking for potential nest sites. 

    Townend lagoon with a range of wildfowl this morning

    With the current mild weather the lagoons are holding a good selection of dabbling ducks but with our shallow water levels no diving…

    • 15 Jan 2019
  • The bar is now set for 2019! Great-white egret

    Well its been a bit of a funny old start to January but today it was great to hear from our regulars Tim and Si Jump that they had the locally wintering great-white egret drop into Xerox lagoon for ten minutes. Maybe not the rarity they once were but still an excellent bird to get 2019 off to a great start, and also this morning there was another bird that only a year or two ago would have been a bit of a site rarity…

    • 8 Jan 2019
  • A festive seasonal summary

    Well happy new year to everyone and lets hope 2019 is a good a year as the last here on the Sands, I decided to have a bit of a blogging rest over the Christmas period and instead get myself out into the country air and go and find some nice wildlife and birds around the local area! So here's a summary of what was seen over the Christmas break and a bit of information on what work we have already started for the new year…

    • 3 Jan 2019
  • Christmas eve excitement

    What could be better than an early Christmas present in the form of some fantastic birds and wildlife which is exactly what I got this morning when I peered through the gloom at what I thought was a cormorant diving for fish on Xerox lagoon. 

    As you can hopefully see from this short video it was in fact an otter busily fishing for its breakfast! (reminder - must go for eyes testing!)


    • 24 Dec 2018
  • The Shortest Day - Winter Solstice and moon corona

    Today being the Winter Solstice often seems like a watershed in the natural calendar when over the coming weeks we again have just that little bit more light and time to enjoy the wildlife. Today it was certainly a dark start especially as the light drizzle shrouded the reserve in mist, however the birds and wildlife didn't really seem to mind with a nice selection of birds, mammals and an amazing continued emergence…

    • 21 Dec 2018
  • It just wouldn't be Christmas without the Turkey tail!

    Over the last couple of weeks the weather and surrounding habitats of the reserve have suddenly become a bit damper and this coupled with the mild December we are currently having means there has suddenly been a noticeable revival of emerging fungi here on the reserve, after what had been a very poor autumn due to the continued drought conditions.

    Some very 'seasonal' Snowy waxcaps underneath the ash trees in…

    • 19 Dec 2018
  • A working week - bird conservation in action

    Its certainly been a diverse working week if nothing else with the team delivering plenty of work around our Humber reserves but also a good chance to see some of the results of work that we did in the summer bearing fruits. 

    Lets start with the area of bird friendly food that was set on local farmland, unfortunately not in a place that is visible but certainly delivering for the local farmland birds with yesterday counts…

    • 14 Dec 2018