There's been some pretty good wader watching over the last few days with last nights thunder and lightning resulting in a few migrant birds dropping onto the lagoons, but I suppose the star bird has to have been 'our' female Montagu's harrier that has returned to site and shown pretty well on an off over the last five or so days. 

She's just about completed her moult and will be getting ready to return to Africa sometime soon

Here she is having a spat with a male marsh harrier who was protecting a late youngster. 

Enjoy her while you can - it may be her last year?

But back to the waders! The lagoons have been at almost perfect levels with the help of the hot weather, this morning there were the two curlew sandpipers on Singleton along with 5 juvenile knot, ringed plover and 16 spotted redshank and a goodly number of black-tailed godwits, then across the reserve there were 2 juvenile bar-tailed godwits five plus greenshank, green and common sandpipers, 40+ snipe redshank, lapwing and curlew on the grazing marsh. Also in the last few days there has been a build up of golden plover with over 100 out towards the Humber and a few occasionally landing in the fields next to the reserve. Its a 6.5m tide this weekend so there may be a few waders brought up the estuary - dunlin off course are currently notable by their absence! 

Young avocet - are some of them from Whitton? There has though been a colour flagged bird from Nosterfield...........

White headed ruff

Curlew sandpipers - Marshland

Black-tailed godwits

Bar-tailed godwits


Spotted redshank - nice to see one or two juveniles

Knot with curlew sandpipers and ringed plover, ruff, spot red and lapwing

With lots of dragonflies about there has been up to two hobbies while other birds of prey have included peregrines, buzzards, kestrels and off course regular marsh harriers and Mrs Monty. 

Certainly worth a look around the edges of the lagoons with lots of water rails of varying ages scuttling in and out of the reeds, but also watch for bearded tits as there have been lots of them feeding right out in the open particularly on Singleton and Marshland. Not so many little egrets but a few herons, however it seems the spoonbills have gone over to the dark side at Alkborough, it will be interesting to see if they return over high tide. 

Duck have added a bit of interest recently with regular garganey among the teal but also a few wigeon arriving onto Ousefleet lagoon, however as with the waders there are duck arriving from the east with a group of pintail heading west with a couple of golden plover tagging along. 

Spot the garganey

Some of you may be also wondering what has happened to our five mute swan chicks that were on Singleton, well I'm happy to say that they sailed out onto the river Trent and then now onto Adlingfleet drain where I'm pleased to say all five chicks are nearly fledged. This is particularly interesting in that often our pochard and tufted duck disappear and this adds support to the fact that many duck take their young off site when feeding conditions are not right on the lagoons.

Here they are! 

Plenty of smaller birds about too with the bearded tits, yellow wagtails, Cettis warblers still singing, willow warblers, tree sparrows, a few sand martins, house martins passing south, great spotted woodpecker yesterday. 

Sheep and yellow wag

Its that time of year when the team are busy with all sorts of management jobs getting ready for the autumn high tides and making up time when many jobs can't be done due to the breeding birds and other wildlife.

This week they have been creating a room with a view - putting a new roof onto Ousefleet hide - yes we did know it was leaking and in very poor condition btw!

As you know its dry in front of Ousefleet hide - this is because this pool is managed as a seasonal pool and allowed to develop lots of weed rich annuals like spear leaved orache and fat hen that are very good when it floods for the Humbers wildfowl and waders (yes they can eat seeds too). Its looking really good this year and if we get a wee over-topping of the tide this weekend it may become a wildfowl wonder fest. If not then hopefully it will be even better in September.

Annual seeds galore! Sometime you have to take time to prepare good bird habitat

We are also working with a local landowner and farmers near to site to create good feeding for winter passerines particularly finches and buntings, but also creating nectar rich areas for bees and butterflies.

Unfortunately there is no public access but here's what we're doing - in good years it can hold over 700+ finches and buntings and this years bird friendly food is looking really exciting. Maybe in the winter if conditions are right we may organise a limited days viewing event/guided walk. 

Sown this year a mix of wheat, triticale, fodder radish, quinoa and a few sunflowers mixed in  (half a hectare)

The fodder radish is only just starting to set good seed heads - it got mullered in the spring by either or both diamond back moth and flea beetle. But now it starting to set thousands of seed heads that will be good mid winter food for finches and buntings

Last years crop with kale, wheat, triticale and fodder radish (half a hectare)

10m wheat unharvested headland

 Nectar mix - its in its third year so a little sad but still attracting in the bees and butterflies!


  • A superb end to August tonight (I must do a bit more evening birding!), Birding was really on the boil with an amazing 97 curlew roosting on Marshland, 5 spoonbill dropped into Ousefleet lagoon, then there was 54 ruff, 55 black-tailed godwits, 50+ redshank, 6 green sandpipers, 3 greenshank, 13 spotted redshank, 30+ snipe, 2 curlew sandpipers and a knot. Add in 4 pintail and 30 shelduck West and finally a hobby hunting in near darkness then it certainly was an entertaining day all round - see earlier comment. Pete

  • This morning there was the two curlew sandpipers, Montagu's harrier briefly, 50+ yellow wagtails, 3 stonechat, 3 whinchat and a good mix of waders including spotted redshank. 

  • This morning the curlew sandpipers were still on Singleton but also to add to the wader list were five dunlin on Marshland, and flying west whimbrel and oystercatcher. That's 15 species of wader alone today and a few more to add over the last few days.