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.


Early summer. Hazy days and sunshine – or not as recent weather testifies. But chick season continues. It’s been fab to see the young ones emerging or trailing after their parents on the lagoons.

It’s always exciting to see young robins and wrens especially round the toilet block and picnic areas and I’ve seen plenty, just never when I have a camera to hand.

It doesn’t have to be rare or exotic for me to get excited either. I’ve been following the mute swan brood of 6 as they grow.

These “ugly ducklings” are going from strength to strength.

1st and 2nd brood moorhens with parent. (Pic: Darren Oxley)

As recently reported on facebook moorhens and their chicks have been very elusive this year and we did wonder if there were any at all but they did appear to one of our visitors (Darren Oxley) who very kindly shared the above pic with us.

These mallard chicks have spent lots of time in the margins keeping out of site of the marsh harriers (especially Dangly).

Mallard chicks come in all shades – these cute yellow fluffy ones were sticking close to mum.

Running with the chick theme it was fantastic to catch this brood of pochard on the Humber. There’s been a steady decline of pochard in the UK since the 1990’s. They are usually  winter visitors, their breeding grounds being  in North and Eastern Europe, but a few birds will stay in the UK to breed.

Black headed gulls have been sharing the islands on Marshland with the avocets (strange bed fellows). Here’s a couple of products from their nesting activities. I love all birds but these aren’t my favourite. It’s the noise they make! Their antics are fun to watch as they bicker with each other though.

For cuteness you definitely can’t beat a lapwing chick. Pete recently spotted this little cute fluff ball on the grazing marsh with the koniks ponies.

Some birds will continue to breed late into the season. At least Pete won’t need to leap into action to rescue this one from wandering onto the roads.

Of course many of the young around the reserve have begun to fledge the nest. Last week we caught our first tiny glimpse of juvenile marsh harriers. There were two of them initially but a couple of days later a third emerged. Pete was on hand to capture them on video (posted on social media) but I did manage to capture a still from the video to share here!

As one of our most recent colonists Cetti’s warblers have slowly increased since they first bred in the UK in the early 70’s. There’s around 2000 of them in the UK. They are really difficult to spot at the best of times but we have got young ones at Blacktoft. Their distinctive call is usually the only indication they are around.

This one hatched from a bright red egg! – as do all young cettis!

Going slightly off topic I recently had the pleasure of Bempton Cliffs and while the buzz was around the black browed albatross I was busy capturing more young birds. It would be churlish of me not to share them.

Razor bill with chick

Gannets with chicks

I didn’t manage to see the albatross but I was thoroughly happy with a puffin! here’s just one more chick. We got reports at reception recently of a barn owl chick scrambling about in the undergrowth next to ousefleet path so we scurried along to make sure it was alright. Luckily we were able to locate it and made sure it was healthy. We believe it managed to make its way back up to the box. This was a phone shot – just to make sure it was in fine fettle after its “fall from grace”.

That’s about it for the chicks so on to other stuff spotted around the reserve recently.

Barn owl – probably the parent bird to the above chick. We’ve had some great views of it hunting after inclement weather during the day.

Bittern has been very active lately with regularly sightings of feeding flights usually from townend/singleton end of the reserve. It’s been flying towards Alkborough and back. This time it was being mobbed by one of those pesky squawking black headed gulls.

Green sandpiper have spent some time on Marshland lagoon of late (including this morning). It’s nice to see the odd wader at this time of year. Avocets are still present and reports of spotted redshank came to us over the weekend.

Tree sparrows continue to work hard rearing young as well. This adult has filled it’s beak with yummy insects and grubs to feed their youngsters. It’s been a difficult season for the invertebrate feeders – the seasons have been a little “weird” this year.

And whilst I only briefly heard a grasshopper warbler very briefly in mid April this year Pete captured this one as it sang in the reeds around the borrow pits.

One of our bird friendly crops (only 2 hectares) has been amazing. No pesticides has meant an abundance of insects, and skylarks and lapwings have thrived here, as have these swifts!

Our hard working koniks have also brought about results – yellow wagtail!

It’s great to see lapwings still around the estuary this small flock flew down towards ousefleet earlier this week.

Several of our members having been asking after Dangly. He’s still here and still doing well. Although the juvenile coot he was after yesterday would rather he wasn’t. The juv. coot did manage to escape!

Dangly hunting across first hide lagoon – he almost caught a coot juvenile.

For those of you that know me – I have an obsession with moths at the moment so was absolutely thrilled when Pete forwarded this 5 spot burnet moth to me taken at the reserve.

These are one of the few day flying moths – often found around wet grassland. It is a little unusual “up this neck of the woods” generally found in the south of England often near the coast.

Just as I was leaving the reserve this morning (to write this) a Great White Egret dropped in to feed.

And Finally …

Ok so it’s gratuitous advertising time!

RSPB Tetney Marshes, where nature, art, poetry and science come together.

Our friends at “For Every Bird A Nest” are running a one day art science workshop exploring the secret life of birds at Humberston Fitties and Tetney Marshes. Saturday 10th July.

It’s free!

Fancy an immersive day? Find out more about the project and book here:-

For every bird a nest – one day art-science workshop Tickets, Sat 10 Jul 2021 at 10:00 | Eventbrite