There's nothing like a bit of inclement summer weather to give a bit of bird interest here on the Sands and the last few days has certainly proved that with plenty to see not least the amazing 20 spoonbills! 

A pretty awe inspiring sight - flocks of spoonbills!

And at times some real close up views

A juvenile landing on Marshland

 And it was also good to see the reserve sharing in the countrywide influx of wood sandpipers with two bird with at least one still present today, it was certainly an interesting wader 'fall' with also 9 common sandpipers arriving on Townend. I've seen falls of both species during and after heavy rain over the years but they are always a real treat when they happen/

Wood sandpiper at Marshland

Common sandpiper at Xerox

Its not been too bad for waders although still the larger numbers of some species remain over at Alkborough, but here on the lagoons greenshank have been exceptional with up to 10, also then a variety of green sandpiper, black-tailed godwits, ruff, spotted redshank, snipe, redshank, lapwing, then occasional records of dunlin, avocet, curlew whimbrel, golden plover, and oystercatcher. 

Black-tailed godwit - no sign of the juveniles as yet

Up close and personal with my favourite wader - greenshank

Love snipe

Adult dunlin

Oystercatchers going west

Fantastic to see over at Whitton that the avocet chicks are still doing well with now an estimate of 30+ chicks that have/will fledge, there were also 188 curlew feeding on the mudflats!  It is however now very difficult if not impossible to fully decide if there is more as fledged avocets arrive from all over the North of England at Alkborough including two chicks that I saw last weekend at Nosterfield who have yellow leg flags on. 

I'm pretty sure however these are 'our' fledged avocet chicks feeding near to Whitton, they were next to chicks that couldn't quite fly.

A bit more happening on the duck front with the arrival of two juvenile Garganey that were reared just over the river at Alkborough, brilliant news that this rare duck has managed to fledge some young locally - its all about landscape.................

Garganey on Xerox and then two on Marshland. You can see here the secondary feathers aren't full grown yet

Also of interest were two ruddy shelduck that went west the other morning - they almost landed on Marshland but not quite!

The number of Marsh harriers around site has noticeably dropped as most pairs have now taken their young out onto the arable, but the odd late juvenile can be seen along with its parents, however its been quite productive for BOPS recently with regular hobby, peregrine and buzzard.

This photo is dark as the light was poor  - but it has a peregrine smack in the middle!

And an equally poor shot of hobby today

And lets not forget our barn owls, still showing at Ousefleet, this one was not too bothered about the Koniks!

Plenty of little egrets now feeding on the lagoons but also watch out for water rails that can show around the edges of the lagoons alongside the bearded tits which have been regular at Marshland. 

This water rail was in front of Ousefleet screen

It seems like its a great year for yellow wagtails thank goodness, they are declining in so many parts of the country so its nice to see them holding their own in the area, look out for them on the lagoons and at Ousefleet gate. 

Moulting adult yellow wagtail

Two juveniles in the Konik paddock

Also our tree sparrows are still busy raising young while we also filled our farmland bird feeders recently and attracted a flock of 120 of them along with about 60 starlings - another bird that is struggling here in the UK.

Mega spuggie feeder - It certainly saves a bit of time. Thanks to the Grimsby members group for helping to fund these. 

Warblers have been good viewing with oodles of sedge warblers around at the moment fattening up for migration, also plenty of reed warblers feeding young and migrant willow warblers, then also whitethroats, Cettis warblers to add to the mix. 

I rescued this young willow warbler from inside one of the hides

When lookering the livestock there has been masses of grassland species particularly meadow pipits, skylarks, yellow wagtails, linnets and reed buntings but also a stonechat feeding in the rough grazed areas, it really has brought home to me again how less intensive grazing can have such better results for many of our passerines, lets see a bit more of it please. 

There must be nearly a 100 meadow pipits across the marsh and they are still feeding young in the nest!


Very nice too on my way in to see this brood of grey partridge near to the reserve - good arable headlands do work!

Plenty of mammals to look out for including both stoat and weasel but also roe deer and hare. 

Not so many insects with the cooler conditions but still plenty to watch out for including beasties such as this brown hawker and the most recent hatching of painted lady

A fresh Painted lady 

The wet weather suits this little fella - a great diving beetle on the path

A bit of wet is also reviving the fungi

Horseshoe meadow is now cut and the bales have been taken off, but we've still got plenty to do including tidying up any hay left lying by the bailer and also preparation to plant some plugs into it including great burnet, betony, and pepper saxifrage. These are all plants that are characteristic of some of the better local meadows in Yorkshire and although there is some in the meadow we feel it will be good to give it a bit of a boost. Watch out for our plant a plug meadow event in September!

Growing plugs



  • some fantastic all round birding on site today with a very amenable bittern, garganey, spoonbills, water rails all over, bearded tits, 11 species of wader including wood sandpiper, ruffs, greenshank, green sandpiper and little ringed plover. Then off course marsh harriers but also peregrine.