PLEASE NOTE THE RESERVE IS CURRENTLY KNEE DEEP IN WATER AND WE ARE CLOSED!
This mornings tides were pretty high, in fact about 17cm higher than yesterdays and certainly this has meant the reserve is knee deep in the wet stuff!
Tide nearly at peak today, kissing the lower flood banks.
This was it about an hour earlier!
But for us this is good, it is what a dynamic estuarine habitat should do, dry and then flood, giving back balance to the habitat and restoring it to wetland rather than forming dry fen. For us, although it will make quite a bit of work clearing up it has been a bit of a relief as the last few years have seen some very dry winters that have left us worrying right until the last minute if we were going to get enough water onto the reserve for the summer. Interestingly this series of tides has been consistently the highest set of tides I have seen in years with all the last five tides morning and evening flooding over the reserve, and it looks as though tomorrows 6.3 morning tide will do it again meaning that unfortunately for visitors we will remain closed at least until Friday and maybe even the weekend, only time will tell
Well this year I can guarantee most of the reserve will be wet in Spring! Welcome to Waterworld
A very well flooded Townend Lagoon on Monday - I suspect it is even wetter now so we will have to run water off - nice to have the luxury of 'wasting' water!
But as unfortunately we can't welcome you to site as the water is far too deep on the paths I will give a summary of the dramas that is a full inundation and some of the birds that off course are still benefiting from the food that is being made available by the high water particularly the worms and seeds.
One thing we do have responsibility for is the livestock and its welfare, that is one of the reasons why we are on site, and while we watch the flocks (almost by night!) we manage to catch up with some of the birds and anything else we might come across.
Mr Pilsworth with Splat both looking at the tide prediction
Very entertaining this morning to see a Kingfisher fly past reception - but along the mini river course that is now the paths!
With the tides pushing birds around it has been interesting to have a late wood sandpiper turn up to feast on some of the worms, also today was a fly through turnstone while there has also been four spotted redshank, greenshank, green sandpiper over 20 ruff, a few dunlin, redshanks, snipe, lapwing and quite a few curlew who will really be enjoying the glut of dead worms.
Redshank on the tide rack
And with a ruff
Wood sandpiper and snipe
There are also hundred if not thousands of black-headed and common gulls making the most of the dead worms across site
The marsh harriers, kestrels and buzzards are also enjoying themselves as they pick off the thousands of voles and shrews that are clinging for dear life onto any bit of dry land they can get to poor things. Some of the gatherings of marsh harriers in particular have been quite spectacular as they swoop and harry.
A gathering of harriers
Two in a tree
And a bird with the Humber bridge behind it at Ousefleet
Vole on a small island of safety
And a shrew swimming for its life!
Duck numbers have been building especially teal and mallard, but today a surprise was 23 pochard that were feeding on Ousefleet flash, a most unusual sight as this area is usually only a few inches deep in water! One thing that is notable is that we haven't got many wigeon or pintail, have these all gone to the Lower Derwent to feed as it too floods? Plenty of pink-footed geese are flighting over and there was a bit of shelduck movement this morning. Garganey was a nice surprise this morning feeding in with the teal.
Pochard (at the back) these may be continental birds heading inland.
Wildfowl enjoying Ousefleet flash
Yesterday there was great white-egret also feeding on the worms on one of the Islands on Xerox while there are still little egrets enjoying the wormfest.
In terms of smaller birds there has been the first siskin and redwing of the year over the last two days as well as grey wagtail south. Still quite a few swallows about making good of the insects pushed up by the floods while there is at least one yellow wagtail mixing in with the many pied wagtails. Stonechats have been very notable with up to five in front of reception.
Pied and yellow wagtail
Its going to take a while to sort out all the water levels on site but the hides are at the moment unscathed and as it looks like the water on the paths is relatively silt free we should hopefully be able to get to work and make the reserve safe as soon at the tides relent.
I'll leave you with a few more images of the high tides
Ousefleet at Sunrise on Monday
High tide on Monday
The riverboat hide trail!
The gate at Ousefleet
And here the Coastguards ship shows how high the river and tide today is compared to the surrounding village of Blacktoft!
Just an update on the water levels - we are struggling to get water off the paths at the moment so will leave the decision to re-open until later today, so much water seems to be really giving gridlock on the main inflows and outflows, even todays tide looked high enough t lock water on the reserve today when I drove through Goole. Pete
I love living in Blacktoft, right on the riverbank and the wonderful views of the reserve it brings. You have to respect the river and the tides, but it is a gorgeous quiet corner of the world to live in. I has been quite a week, with all sorts floating past including huge chunks of riverbank with grass on, a dead dairy cow. The poor thing must have fallen in or got stuck up country. I've been watching a kestrel this morning hunting the margins outside the house, with not a soul to be seen. I collected a yellow rubber duck with 157 written on it that washed up in the front garden. It must have been from a duck race somewhere. A tawny owl was calling to another one all night last night well into sunrise this morning.
Good to see you valuing the dynamic change that nature brings & how it gives life, as well as sometimes taking it. Your last picture shows what ridiculous places we sometimes try to live in, rather than 'making space for nature'.
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654