Wow with a bit of better weather now and a little bit of rainfall on and off it seems that the birds and the wildlife are really moving towards a mid-summers breeding season peak as well as now returning waders starting to trickle back from the north and east. 

Bitterns seem to be all over the place at the moment with different birds flying around site giving a somewhat confused picture of what seems to be I suspect a booming bittern population? Unfortunately young bitterns can be very similar to the adults so often you need a really good photo of the birds to confirm what they are, so keep those pictures coming in please to the Blacktoft in box so that we can get a full picture of whats going on. 

Here's a few excellent photo's from Mike flowers and also from last week by visitor Anne Littleford 

I reckon this bird is a young one? However you may note its got no tail! 

But not fully sure about these two? I'll need to do a little more research and compare some of my old pictures of young birds from the past. 

This bittern was very mobile and flew all the length of the reserve and then back again and then over the other side of the Ouse (photo by pedro)

Still daily spoonbill sightings as birds fly over the reserve too and from Fairburn and Alkborough flats - here's an adult bird from Yesterday (Mike Flowers)

A couple of species that are really wowing visitors at the moment are the Marsh harriers who's young must be now getting quite big as both the males and females are going out to feed, often just dropping into the nest with food as they return. I suspect fledging will be within the next 10 days for the early nests. Then off course there are the barn owls that are giving just a fabulous show stopping performance, with at least four pairs hunting over the reserve you can often see them in the day now and very close to the hides.

Bertha the marsh harrier being mobbed by the black-headed gulls (I know its Bertha because she's ringed)

And the barn owl on Ousefleet

Also keep any eye out for hobby which is being seen recently alongside sparrowhawk and kestrel.

Unfortunately the purple heron from last week only stayed until Friday, seemingly doing a bunk overnight. Still quite a few people managed to see it with a few superb photo's been sent to us by Martin Roome taken on the Thursday. 

Over the last few days there has been the first sightings of spotted redshank and a partially breeding plumage male ruff at Ousefleet and Xerox while a few more curlews have been moving west, always nice to get the first waders back. Also of note was the autumns first common sandpiper along the river, not surprising really with so much rainfall and I suspect swollen rivers that will disrupt this species's breeding cycle. 

Spotted redshank - Mike Flowers, always nice in summer plumage

This lone ruff was on Ousefleet lagoon when I was sat in front of a screen

Duck highlights were the odd couple of a ruddy shelduck and Egyptian goose spotted flying over the reserve midweek by regulars Tim and Si Jump, there would be some interesting young from this couple, any suggestions on what they would be called?

Also about the lagoons are a few wigeon, shelduck, tufted duck, pochard, gadwall and shoveler, but keep your eyes peeled for any garganey that are still knocking about this part of the estuary. 

Young coot are suddenly hatching on some of the lagoons.

Moulting wigeon

This little grebe nest is right out in the open! 

There is a real nice mix of passerines on site at the moment with absolutely loads of young Cettis warblers about, where will they all go to at the end of the breeding season? Also plenty of other warblers including reed and sedge, blackcap, and whitethroat, reed buntings are chiming across the marsh and tree sparrows are just fledging their second broods. Out on the grazing marsh there are loads of skylarks and meadow pipits with the odd yellow wagtail feeding alongside the pied wags.   

fledged Cettis warbler - Mike Flowers

Tree sparrow feeding young - Pedro

Skylark at Ousefleet where the ponies are grazing the grass short to help them lose weight

And yellow wagtail

With a little more warmth the insects are really buzzing with loads of bumble bees especially on the flowers in Horseshoe meadow, damselflies and dragonflies emerging and a few more butterflies now starting to hatch out. It really does make it feel like mid-summer! 

Here's a few pictures to give you an idea of what its like.

Butterflies and Moths

Painted lady

Female common blue I think - its very worn and a bit blue around the body for brown Argus?

Meadow brown on Knapweed


Cinnabar moth - they do like a bit of ragwort to eat

It seems to be a record invasion of this small diamond back pyralid moth - they are considered an agricultural pest



This is the larvae of the dock beetle devouring a dock leaf 


I missed this beautiful corn cockle on the open day guided walk, it must have been just opening. This plant is more of an old arable 'weed' rather than a meadow plant. Interestingly last year it grew very big, now it has become a lot smaller and more like it is illustrated in the books.

Hoary plantain - Its the form rather than the colour that's beautiful here

As is this seed 'clock' that is from the greater goats beard - its flowering in profusion this year along the bank up to Ousefleet 

The yellow rattle is starting to set seed - in times gone by this would indicate its time to make hay

Fungi - with all the rainfall the fungi is still emerging

The rain has revived the Jelly ear


It seems the bumble bees are really starting to get to work in Horseshoe meadow - interesting watching the different species favouring different flowers (not sure of all the bee species - one to look up when I have time)

On vetch

On bramble - insects love bramble

On Knapweed

On selfheal - can you spot the bee?


Azure damselfly

This is probably a red-eyed rather than a small red-eyed damselfley but have to do a little more research into their ID - It was at Ousefleet and which ever species it turns out to be it will be a first record for the reserve.

I just love mid summer - so much new to find! Remember its mid summers day tomorrow

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