As the nights draw in and winter looms it’s perhaps one of my favourite times of the year around the Humber.

It’s always great to see skeins of pink footed geese over head – especially first thing in the morning. It always puts a smile on my face. A recent wetland bird count at Reads Island threw up a record 27500 of them.

Clouds of pink footed geese from Island Farm (Pic:- Pete Short)

It is truly a spectacle when the sky is full of these honking beauties.

On this particular count there was also 6500 teal. An incredible number showing why the Humber is so important especially at this time of year as a staging post for migrating wetland birds as well as those returning to us for the winter. Combine the number of pink footed geese and teal with the 1300 avocet counted on the same day left a total of around 47000 birds!


Pink footed geese in flight.

Other species have also provided us with “fly by’s”.

Barnacle geese heading west (Pic:- Pete Short)

It’s impossible to tell if this group of barnacle geese are feral or wild but there has been a strong movement of barnacles into the UK in recent times so they could well have come all the way from Svalbard!

Another fantastic fly by was these whooper swans.

Herd of whooper swans moving south (Pic:- Mike Painter)

Good numbers of siskin and red polls have also been seen moving around the area as well as this grey wagtail which took a moment to preen itself whilst perched on our water vole feeding pontoon.

Grey wagtail.

I haven’t seen any as yet but it won’t be too much longer before we’re graced with fieldfare and redwings. There’s certainly plenty of berries on the trees just now. Who knows we may even get a waxwing or two in the coming weeks.

Golden plover have at last appeared out on the Humber roosts too.

Golden Plover

A flock of over a 1000 were counted recently, arrival dates and peaks on the Humber have changed dramatically over the years as winters get milder.

As we come to the end of wader migration there’s still a good number at the reserve. Recent sightings include the odd little stint.

Little Stint (Pic :- Pete Short)

This one was spotted at marshland hide. Also seen at marshland was curlew sandpiper, red shank, spotted redshank, black tailed godwits, bar tailed godwits, lapwing, snipe, green shank, and ruff.

Black tailed godwits and redshank.




Little egret

There have been some impressive numbers too at Tetney Marsh according to our trainee assistant warden Heather recently. She reported 2555 grey plover, 673 ringed plover, 1410 oyster catchers, 1109 dunlin, 1400 knot and 50 turnstone.

Check her video here!

It would be remis of me not to mention our star bird, the white tailed lapwing. Over the last couple of months we’ve have more visitors than ever and it’s been an absolute blast to have this little bundle of amazing with us. It seems to have decided that Blacktoft is now his territory and is regularly seen chasing other birds off his patch. I spotted him bullying female teal earlier but other anecdotes include seeing off other lapwings. It’s not that brave/stupid though. It does shift pretty quickly when the raptors fly through.

White tailed lapwing.

Other highlights this week include these two buzzards seen over the grazing marsh.


Possibly my favourite (and easiest) find this week came from looking down. Along the trail towards singleton hide I noticed a flash of red.

Blackening waxcaps

These fungi are a first record on the reserve. I’m certainly no expert when it comes to fungus and I originally mis identified them as vermillion waxcap before seeking the advice of our local oracle Pete – who is always happy to set me straight!

I’ll be trying hard this winter to learn more about these natural wonders. With over 15,000 species in the UK I think I may have my hands full.

Even when the bird life is sparse on occasion there’s always plenty to see at Blacktoft. Here’s our resident Koniks doing what they do best – managing the habitat around the reserve.

Koniks ponies across ousefleet.

Rainbow over ousefleet.

That’s all for now.

Stay healthy and safe and see at you the reserve!