• The Age of Discovery - Water pipits and Scandinavian rock pipits along the Humber

    Its certainly been an interesting last few days here along the Humber with as usual plenty to discover and plenty to ponder! And although our wetland birds have been fantastic as have our birds of prey it seems that its been the passerines that have just edged the headlines. Judge for yourself. 

    At this time of year there's often a few water pipits around site with at least two on Saturday one of which was feeding alongside…

    • 18 Nov 2019
  • Friday update - a very wet affair

    It seems like the rain is never going to relent at the moment with the local area getting another pasting yesterday of almost biblical proportions. But of course rainfall doesn't close Blacktoft its only tidal flooding and currently the tides are nowhere near high enough to have an effect.

    Here's a graph from the farm next door showing how wet its been - but still not as wet as 2012 apparently! 

    It has created…

    • 15 Nov 2019
  • A Lull in the Rain Travel Update.

    Its been a rainy few days in our neck of the woods but thankfully it hasn’t really affected the reserve too much apart from the odd puddle here and there. The reserve only really floods when we get a series of really high tides which inundates onto the reserve. All the trails are accessible and no need for wellies at the moment.

    What is affecting us slightly is the road closures in the area. Just to clarify a little…

    • 13 Nov 2019
  • Travel News – Open as Usual.

    **Road Closure Announcement**

    From Monday November 11th East Riding of Yorkshire Council will be closing local roads in the area which will affect people travelling to the reserve.They have assured us that access to the reserve will not be restricted. Visitors to the reserve are advised to check travel arrangements before setting off.

    The essential repairs will be happening on the C48 unnamed road between the North Lincolnshire…

    • 10 Nov 2019
  • Slavonian grebe on Singleton lagoon!

    Just a quick update - A great find by our Warden Mike of a Juvenile Slavonian grebe this afternoon on Singleton lagoon, it was really enjoying the sticklebacks and shrimps by the looks when I went to have a look so lets hope it stays around for tomorrow. 

    Its always nice to see scarce grebes - the last record of slavonian was would you believe it way back in 2011 - On Singleton!

    Also about on site today was the long…

    • 8 Nov 2019
  • Roost News…

    At last I’ve managed to see my first harrier roost and it was impressive. Sadly the light levels made it difficult to photograph but it was a spectacle non the less.

    I counted at least 12 Marsh Harrier (which I never get bored of watching) and I would have been happy at that. But then I caught sight of a ring tailed hen harrier coming in across the reed bed at singleton from over towards Alkborough. Happy with that…

    • 6 Nov 2019
  • 64,000 waterfowl and rising!

    That's the amazing number of waders, ducks and geese birds that have been counted using our fantastic Upper Humber refuges during October and November this year and certainly shows just how important our network of reserves are along this amazing bird filled estuary. 

    A view from Townend lagoon this summer with a range of waders ducks, herons and spoonbills......

    And it really hit home on Sunday when me and my partner…

    • 5 Nov 2019
  • Wetland doing what a wetland should do!

    Its certainly been a wet old Autumn here on the Humber with record September and now October rainfall figures along with lots of high tides that have flooded across the reserve, but of course for the habitats and the wetland birds this excess of water does nothing but good! It soaks into the soil and floods across areas bringing in food and creating the right conditions for many wetland species to thrive. 

    Water water…

    • 31 Oct 2019
  • Green-winged teal appears as if by magic

    Well I did write the following in my blog last week!

    'Teal numbers are building too with 1000 last night - lets hope the green winged teal that was at Reads Island works its way up the estuary but then as the teal moult out there could be another one lurking'

    And as if by magic one was found yesterday on Ousefleet where it was still present this morning showing off right in front of Ousefleet hide allowing the…

    • 28 Oct 2019
  • Duck Fest Continues & Harrier Roost

    It’s that time of year. The clocks have gone back and the leaves are well and truly falling. I see the evidence of this every time I get in my car at the reserve and its covered. But it does mean the landscape is awash with colour and the dabbling ducks are too.

    After yesterdays downpour the weather has perked up and promises to be fine for the next few days at least. Which is great news for those planning on coming…

    • 27 Oct 2019
  • Teal, hen harrier and perplexing pipits

    Yes its that time of year when those perplexing pipits start to winter on site, of course I mean those pesky water pipits! Never an easy species to get to grips with unless you are driving the Softrak reedcutting when you get amazing views, they are just one of those species many people often struggle with. But we do have a few on site at the moment so check your pipits especially on any cut vegetation around the lagoons…

    • 24 Oct 2019
  • Reasons to be cheerful part II

    The last week has certainly seen a gradual change from early Autumn towards winter with a strengthening passage of fieldfare, redwing and siskin moving west and southwards while the build up of hungry pink footed geese has reached another fantastic total of 6% of the world population roosting mainly at Whitton and Reads Island! 

    Pinkies at Reads Island

    On Friday the team along with a few other birders undertook the October…

    • 21 Oct 2019
  • Pink Footed Spectacle.

    It’s been a few weeks since I last blogged. I’ve been away on annual leave seeking the northern lights and spotting white tailed sea eagles up the coast of Norway all the way into the arctic circle (which was surprisingly warm). Yes we did manage both!.

    It’s was brilliant to come home (I missed the floods on the reserve) to see the sheer numbers of pink footed geese skeins flying over and around the reserve…

    • 19 Oct 2019
  • A little bit of Mycea magic

    With all this lovely wet weather about it seems that this autumn the local fungi are emerging in profusion around the reserve and on some of our other sites around the estuary. Now I'm certainly no expert in the identification of fungi but I do really enjoy seeing all the amazing shapes, colours and textures in what is one of the highlights of natures wonderful calendar, and rather than always worrying about its name…

    • 16 Oct 2019
  • Here comes Autumn

    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…

    • 10 Oct 2019
  • Seasonal pools prove their worth yet again!

    One of the most popular questions here on the reserve is beyond doubt is:- Is there any water in front of Ousefleet hide? Well normally in the summer the answer is  a clear No, we then go on to explain that this is because this pool is a seasonal flood area that has shallow levels in Winter and then dries into spring to allow dynamic ecological processes to take place. 

    Ousefleet flash in the summer - this is what you often…

    • 6 Oct 2019
  • Reserve to re-open tomorrow Sat 4/10

    The good news is that tomorrow the reserve will re-open, however please note that there will probably at least until Sunday only about 50% of the paths open, the path to Ousefleet and then down to Singleton. However with reception looking over Xerox this will give views of most of the site. 

    BUT bring yer wellies as parts of the paths may still be a little wet. There's been some nice birds recently too with great-white…

    • 4 Oct 2019
  • Famine or Feast - The tides just keep getting higher and higher!


    This mornings tides were pretty high, in fact about 17cm higher than yesterdays and certainly this has meant the reserve is knee deep in the wet stuff!

    Tide nearly at peak today, kissing the lower flood banks.

    This was it about an hour earlier!

    But for us this is good, it is what a dynamic estuarine habitat should do, dry and then flood, giving…

    • 1 Oct 2019
  • Big tides force reserve closure

    As you can see the tides have come across the whole site this last two days and we expect more of the same at least until tomorrow and Wednesday. So as the paths will be flooded quite deep as of this mornings high tides then we have taken the decision to close until they are safe to use, hopefully by Thursday or Friday. We will keep everyone informed via the blog, facebook and twitter but hopefully will also do another…

    • 30 Sep 2019
  • Rain rain beautiful rain!

    At last we're starting to have a little bit of rain to help refresh our lagoons and reedbed and hopefully tempt in a few birds although it does seem that already this 'hope' has come true with the re-emergence of the spotted crake at Singleton today in the same place and found by the same finder and again during heavy rain, lightning certain does sometimes strike twice!

    Sunset over Marshland

    But there has…

    • 24 Sep 2019
  • You never can tell – Interesting times!

    Well, what a stellar week that was for me personally – and for many of our visitors. I’d have been perfectly happy with the spotted crake that spent a few days earlier in the week but then to follow it up with a Little Crake was absolutely superb. It just goes to show that with nature you never can tell what’s going to happen. As Pete mentioned in his blog the other day it’s 73 years since one was last seen in Yorkshire…

    • 22 Sep 2019
  • Hit, miss and all change

    Amazing what a day or two does at this time of year here on the Sands, as soon as the weather changes then many birds ship out and then are gradually replaced by other species that prefer the different conditions to migrate. But of course this is what makes birding for me so interesting, you never quite know what to expect and certainly you can never quite seem to second guess what is going to happen!

    So it certainly…

    • 20 Sep 2019
  • Quantity and quality! Little crake on Marshland

    September is certainly turning out to be very memorable indeed with this morning the Doncaster RSPB group finding a crake on Marshland lagoon, when I heard I was certainly interested as I'd been videoing the spotted crake on Singleton lagoon earlier? When I saw the pictures of the crake I tried my very best to not blurt anything out too naughty as it was clear that the bird in question was either little or ballions…

    • 17 Sep 2019
  • Hiding in Plain Sight

    It’s been an exciting week here at “the Sands”. Earlier in the week we had the harrier triple (see Pete’s blog) of Montagu’s, Hen and Marsh – of course I missed the first two but, still, you’ve got to love the Marshies!

    Then a spotted crake appeared and kept people busy by merging in with the water rail. Stuart (one of our assistant wardens) counted 7 water rails as he spent the…

    • 15 Sep 2019
  • Reserve just hooching with birds!

    This morning the reserve right across all the lagoons was absolutely hooching with both number and quality of birds on high tide. Rather than write about everything here are just a few pictures from yesterday evening and this morning. Tide is about 8am tomorrow and the reserve gates should be open by then unless I'm delayed. 

    Best birds this morning were spotted crake, 2 spoonbills, little stint, 2 curlew sandpipers…

    • 13 Sep 2019