As we are now getting well into October there is certainly a shift in the seasons with signs of Autumn appearing all over the reserve, winter birds arriving, the leaves on the tree's turning red golden and brown and Fungi being tempted out of the ground by the wet weather. 

Also just to say that our footpaths are now all clear of water and the reserve is fully back in business visitor facilities wise - also apologies for the lack of photo's this week, I've been off site quite a bit at meetings.

Fungi at the car park entrance with Autumn leaves - my perfect time of year

For me October is one of the best months for seeing visible migration here on the reserve as birds head South and East to escape to warmer climes with the last few days seeing redwings, song thrushes, siskin, linnets, goldfinch, skylark, meadow pipits, and late swallows all moving south. While today there was a mistle thrush (often only one record a year) flying south. 

Some birds are still breeding though like these young wood pigeon with parent!

Interesting arrivals included two pipits on the grazing marsh that were probably water pipits rather than rock, the winters first jack snipe flushed as we shepherded the cattle.

Best of all though this morning was masses of pink-footed geese that were flying low over the reserve, being forced down by the strong SW wind as they flew out to feed on the surrounding arable fields. Skein after skein gaggled and winked their way over with probably well over 3000 birds. October is of course the month when Gabriel's horn (a country nickname for the pinks) sounds and they pour in from the North in number. 

Pinks over this morning

What was particularly pleasing was that they were flying from their roost site out on Whitton Island which is now off course part of the Blacktoft reserve holding and part of the Humber Wildfowl refuge. Great to see how our work is making a difference for this species on the Humber.  

In fact the reserve at both Blacktoft and Whitton have been holding good numbers of wildfowl and waders with at Blacktoft Ousefleet being the centre focus for teal, mallard, gadwall, shoveler, and at times ruff and curlew, and snipe while a good number of lapwing with a few golden plover have been mixing in. Out around Whitton and on the estuarine end of the Sands there was 3000 golden plover early in the week with 700+ sometimes roosting in fields next to the reserve. Also of note at Whitton was a fly by brent goose and 5 grey plover. 

Golden plover numbers are building up now, these were flying over this morning

Ousefleet at the weekend coated in wildfowl

Including this strange pochard, red-crested pochard hybrid!

Raptors numbers on the reserve have calmed down a little now but you should get marsh harriers, buzzard, kestrel, but keep an eye out for hen harrier and merlin which should be possible at this time of year. 

Many people often think that we just manage the reserve at Blacktoft here on the Humber (easy job!) - well in fact we manage much more than that in fact 1400ha of land all along the estuary with up to nine sites some of which unfortunately are not public access due to them being industrial operations. We are in fact a very busy team! We also liaise with lots of partners to look at and advise with all aspects of the estuary's management and habitats. So when you visit next please appreciate Blacktoft is just part of the operations to save the birds on the Humber, we do look after habitat that can support over 110,000+ wintering wildfowl and waders and lots of wetland breeding birds and contribute by working with partners to help manage the whole of the Humber and often its surrounding farmed hinterland.

Take our refuge at Reads Island that I counted last week - 7000 pink-footed geese, 1000 avocets, 1300 teal, 600 dunlin, 220 redshank and plenty more on top of that. The Island is difficult to view and if you do go please ensure you stay safe on the very busy road that runs next to the Island, probably best viewed from the Crown and Anchor pub car park when you can go for either a drink or a bite to eat! 

Here's a few pictures from last week so you can see what the teams efforts achieve year in year out.

A view from Piggery hill over Reads Island 

Pinkfeet as the Humber survey boat goes past

Avocets and pinkfeet

Black-tailed godwits (front) and avocets with Humber bridge

Pinkfeet flighting out and avocets on Mudbank with the bridge behind

 Avocets and pinkfeet in flight

Avocets and dunlin with pinks on the far mudbank

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