• Watch out Bertha's about!

    This time of year is always a busy time and certainly May 2019 is no exception, lots of management and survey work to do around the Humber reserves means I've been kept busy so apologies for the lack of blogs recently. Also some of you may have noticed my photo's have gone a little backward in quality - this is because unfortunately while on Holiday recently my camera decided to give up the ghost completely. 

    • 30 May 2019
  • Mid May Breeding season bittern bonanza

    It really is that time of year again when all the birds are in full breeding season flow as the early breeders fledge young and others are getting ready to hatch theirs. It seems that migration is subdued as the season of bountiful plenty dominates on the reserve with this morning an amazing three male bitterns on site, one boomer and two that seemed intent in following each other around in a sort of Mexican stand off…

    • 23 May 2019
  • Mid May highlights

    Been a week of changes here at Blacktoft and it's going to be a quick blog. With the last few summer migrants turning up, singing warblers are on very good form. ! was very pleased to hear three grasshopper warblers from Singleton hide on Tuesday evenings, when local barn owls were active with at least four birds hunting the reedbed.

    Easterly flow of wind has continued to pull in some interesting birds. A single black…

    • 17 May 2019
  • The rain will bring em down!

    As my brother and also my partner Masha know I tend to have a saying 'the rain i'll bring em down', that is the passage migrants! And its true, I've seen it time and time again that heavy rain and wind in the right direction will always bring something in, even at times birds that you didn't expect. However this time my wader predictions on the last blog that a bit of a SE blow and front gave the chance…

    • 9 May 2019
  • May just keeps on giving..............

    Its certainly been a fantastic spring here on the Sands with some great birding and wildlife watching just continuing on and on, it really seems to change day in day out with you never really knowing what will be about!

    Apologies too for the late blog, its just been a difficult week all round. Highlights have included the female Montagu's harrier that is still present on site but can be fickle. It seems the morning…

    • 7 May 2019
  • Mrs Mont's is back!

    Amazing news from yesterday that for the sixth year running our amazing and faithful Montagu's harrier is back on site and showing from reception down to Singleton hide. There has been no male bird for the last two years so lets hope that 2019 bring better cheer in the form of a new mate for our lonely female. Here's a couple of photo's and a bit of video which will hopefully now be working again!

    In front…

    • 1 May 2019
  • Spring Rouzel

    Its been a long time since we had a spring ring ouzel on the reserve (only one other in the last 20 years!) so it has been particularly nice to have a bird arrive and stay at Ousefleet for the past couple of days showing at times particularly well in front of the hide searching for worms. What a cracking bird they are with something quite magic about them whether you see them on migration or on their breeding grounds…

    • 25 Apr 2019
  • WorldCurlewDay - On the Humber

    Tomorrow Sunday 21st April is going to be world curlew day, very appropriate too with the Humber helping to support about 3000 wintering curlew every year, mostly from Scandinavia but very sadly having no breeding birds closer than on the Yorkshire Wolds, Weldrake Ings and maybe the odd pair left around the Doncaster area.

    Curlew from last night at Ousefleet, only 6 birds remained............ 

    What better way to understand…

    • 20 Apr 2019
  • A little warmth results in a few more migrants

    Not sure if it could have got much colder for the time of year with the east wind nithering both the birds and visitors to the reserve, but today the wind has calmed a little and this has resulted in a distinct arrival of a few more migrants! 

    This greenland type male wheatear was on Ousefleet feeding around the Konik ponies this morning.I just love the fiery throat of the greenlanders

    Our star birds though have been…

    • 16 Apr 2019
  • Cettis warblers - lots of em in fact!

    Just a quick Friday update, for full details see the last blog. 

    With the wind still from the east I would if you are visiting this weekend wrap up extremely well, the hides can be cold when the wind blows in through the open windows!

    But back to the last couple of days and the recent highlights. Only a few years ago Cettis warblers were a real Yorkshire rarity and when you did find them calling they were hard to find…

    • 12 Apr 2019
  • Easterly airflow brings the little gulls

    The weather may not exactly feel like it's spring here on the Humber (wrap up warm if you visit!), but the easterly airflow and depressed temperatures seem to have had some benefits to the birding on site. 

    Very nice to have had up to three little gulls on Marshland hawking the insects and mixing with the black headed gull colony. The little gull is on the right

    One of my favorite types of gull they are more like…

    • 10 Apr 2019
  • The years first spoonbills

    Fantastic to see the first spoonbills arriving this week with one bird yesterday and then two together on Ousefleet this morning during high tide, in fact the pool had a very dutch feel about it as there were avocets and ruffs with marsh harriers in the background over the reeds and then the Konik ponies grazing the grassland - just like I suspect the Oveerstplassen but on a much smaller scale!

    Spoonbills today on Ousefleet…

    • 5 Apr 2019
  • Walking sideways - spring migrants arrive!

    Sometimes it must feel like to the spring migrants that they are walking sideways, just as they arrive into glorious spring weather April hits and it suddenly starts to get colder, talk about an unfortunate April fool! However, migrants are made of strong stuff and so over the last few days there has been sightings of chiffchaffs, the years first blackcap and swallow, over 100 sand martins on an evening, white wagtai…

    • 2 Apr 2019
  • Wetter means even better!

    A return from a short break in Scotland and at last the reserve has had the high tide we so desperately needed to bring our water across the whole site up to Summer levels, thank goodness too! The flooded sections of the paths are just about clear now but with the added water and ever advancing spring the birding seems to be just as good if not even better than I  went away, what a great March its been for variety and…

    • 27 Mar 2019
  • All at sea - eagle!

    March's superb birding continued yesterday when the sea eagle that was on Hatfield Moors decided to shave past the reserve as it flew over the Ouse and across river above the Blacktoft village area, we had all piled out of the office and were lined up on a very windy river bank to see the distant eagle as it flew above the surrounding farmland! Unfortunately my photo's show it as a small dot despite it being such…

    • 14 Mar 2019
  • Hen harriers, marsh harriers and waders give some inspirational birding

    Funny on Sunday I'd just been talking with reception volunteer Barry about how amazing the jousting and leg raking marsh harriers were in front of reception and reminiscing that if we'd been watching the six marshies that were so breathtakingly close and spectacular back in the 1970's and 80's we'd have thought we'd have gone to heaven! But even today these beautiful birds were I thought just as…

    • 11 Mar 2019
  • A very varied week - hen harriers, chiffchaffs, green-winged teal, avocet, ruff and brent goose

    It seems like every day this week has brought something different with even at times even the days varying from morning to late afternoon but there is no doubt that spring is on the way with this morning the first sky dancing male marsh harrier greeting me as I walked onto the reserve this morning spectacularly displaying hundreds of feet above the reserve and then the black-headed gulls noisily gathering on Marshland…

    • 8 Mar 2019
  • 2019 Events Listings April to September

    For once we seem to have sorted ourselves out and got together our events listings for 2019! We will advertise them as they occur but for anyone interested and who wants to plan ahead then here is the full listing to September. 

    To book please contact the Blacktoft office on 01405 704665 or e-mail the Blacktoft inbox blacktoft.sands@rspb.org.uk.

    Please note the office is open 9 till 5 Monday to Friday but we can be busy…

    • 7 Mar 2019
  • Green-winged teal - in March for the third year running!

    Strange how green-winged teal keeps turning up in March every year at the moment - this one is still on site today and apparently displaying to the other teals! I suspect the run of records is the same bird but then birds never quite do things that you think they should, it could just as easily be a different bird every time!

    Funny but they often say American green-winged teal but in reality they do nest over into Asia…

    • 6 Mar 2019
  • Don't you just love March's unpredictability?

    March for me is always an exciting time for birding here at Blacktoft as you really just don't know what is going to turn up, what with birds leaving the UK for their breeding grounds, and new migrants arriving from their winter quarters further south it really does spice things up a little.

    Curlews and Koniks - a great example of how well curlews blend in with the fields

    Recently there has been a lot about the loss…

    • 4 Mar 2019
  • A bountiful wealth of wildfowl and waders

    With the weather feeling more like its Mid June during the day many birds seem to be on the move at the moment or declaring their breeding territories as they sing from the reedbeds and willow scrub. And despite a bit of fog at the weekend there has been times when the light has been lovely for getting good views of the many varied birds that have been showing.

    The first signs of whooper swan passage have included two…

    • 27 Feb 2019
  • All is shining bright - Spring in February

    It certainly feels like we are having a Mediterranean spring at the moment both weather and bird wise here on the Sands, plants are growing, birds are singing and blossom is emerging but is the wildlife being also lulled into a false spring?

    Comma butterfly yesterday on the office roof!

    In reality it was water we really needed to help fill up the wetland ready for the breeding season and on Wednesday morning our prayers…

    • 22 Feb 2019
  • Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud!

    With all the nice weather recently there has been renewed usage of the reserve and the arrival of a few of the wetland birds that tend to leave us for the winter, and its been very nice to welcome them back and have at last a bit more variety on site again even though the nice weather may yet prove to be another false spring! 

    No doubt that the barn owls have been superb on an evening particularly from first hide down…

    • 18 Feb 2019
  • Heading back east!

    The last couple of days have certainly hinted that birds are now starting to think about heading back to their Scandinavian breeding grounds as there has been a resurgence in the number of blackbirds, redwings and fieldfares as well as a single brambling and today the years first siskin. Other hints of movement were two goldeneye feeding on Xerox lagoon on Sunday and the first returning little grebe on Marshland this…

    • 12 Feb 2019
  • The first signs of spring!

    This morning the ice had at last cleared from the lagoons and the wildfowl had returned to feed on them, skylarks were singing everywhere, tree sparrows taking nesting material into the boxes and our little colony of snow drops had just stared to poke their heads out of the vegetation and begun to bloom, yes all of a sudden its feeling like spring.

    Snowdrops in the reedbed along the path to Ousefleet

    Interesting fact…

    • 6 Feb 2019