Please note the reserve is open from 9am – 6pm, covid guidance is in place e.g. test and trace, social distancing, reduced capacity and masks in enclosed areas. Please be kind to others especially if they are waiting for space.

Meadows matter. Wild flower meadows are one of the rarest habitats in the UK. We’ve lost 97% of our wildflower meadows since the 1930’s.

Horseshoe meadow (adjacent to our toilet block) was taken over and re-wilded here at Blacktoft around 5 years ago and continues to thrive. It’ll take a while longer to mature (some wildflower meadows have existed for hundreds of years) but at this time of year it looks, sounds and smells fantastic. The more diversity we have in our natural habitats, the more bees, birds, animals and other insects there will be!

Later this month our friend and volunteer artist, Linda, will be presenting a series of workshops in Horseshoe meadow. Getting up close and personal with the flora and fauna in this previously intensively farmed space.

Please book in advance via the links below.

 I took a stroll around the edges of the meadow earlier, being very careful where I placed my feet! It’s a riot of colour at the moment and a joy to behold.

Daisies, wild chives and mixed grasses.

View across Horseshoe Meadow

Daisies and meadow buttercups.

Cuckoo Spittle

As I strolled around this small piece of rural idyll I noticed several patches of ‘Cuckoo Spittle’. Of course cuckoo’s haven’t been spitting on plants it so called because it tends to appear at the same time as cuckoo’s arrive back in the UK. It’s actually the nymph of froghopper insects (often called spittlebugs) which secrete a frothy liquid. The eat plant sap but don’t worry they rarely damage the plant – and of course they become a valuable food source for birds and other wildlife. The ‘spittlebug’ nymph often lives in the froth.

A plethora of bees, bugs, butterflies and moth live in the meadow.

Common Blue butterfly

Blue tailed damselfly

Check out our recent facebook meadow post here for a short video showing the sights and sounds across the meadow:

Ofcourse meadows are also important for our birds and wildlife. They are a valuable source of food for some of our smaller birds like tree sparrows. While I was there I saw plenty of them diving into the grasses (evading my camera) searching for their favourite caterpillars, spiders and more.

Here’s a shot I took overlooking the meadow and our feeder.

This fresh looking juvenile robin was also flitting in and out of the trees to forage in the meadow.

The perfect photograph for me would have been if the barn owl had floated across but sadly that was not to be. They have been quite active during day light this last week as they have hungry chicks to feed.

Barn owl chicks (Pic courtesy of Harri Marsh)

They aren’t the only “chicks” around at the moment either. A brisque (if not sweaty) walk around the hides threw up these beauties!

Canada geese with large ‘chick’.

Gadwall chicks

Mallard chick

Mute swan and cygnets.

In other news from around the reserve Dangly continues his search for food around the reed bed as well as over at Whitton island and other places across the river Ouse from Blacktoft.

‘Dangly’ the marsh harrier

More rarities have also briefly dropped in. A female red necked phalarope spent a short spell with us and was spotted by site manager Pete (8th June). I think he has magic binoculars but he explains it’s 40 years of birding experience! Check the link to his twitter post here!

He’s also reported seeing sandwich terns heading west down the river Ouse and bee easters have been spotted over Swinefleet village nearby. Who knows what might drop in next?

And finally:-

An unusual sighting of red kite over reception earlier. It not often red kites appear so close to the reserve – although they can be seen floating in the distance over the edge of the wolds from the east side of the reserve.

I wonder what ‘Dangly’ would make of this?