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Recent sightings

  • 9 February 2016

    Whoopers reappear!

    Well sorry folks, I've tried my best to get the blog problem fixed and unfortunately I still cannot put up any photo's, maybe one day........................

    Well upwards and onwards you'll just have to imagine the following or better still come to see it yourselves! We'd thought that the whooper family of four had long since gone but obviously not as they flew over me this morning as I was sat in Marshland hide and I was very pleased to see 'our' little wild swan little family are all OK. Question is are they still roosting on the reserve and flying in after dark and where are they feeding!

    Lots of other lovely wildfowl on site at the moment with lots of full breeding plumaged wigeon, teal, shoveler and gadwall, over 500 pinkfeet flew out from the Humber this morning to feed on the arable while there were 24 pochard on Singleton and 3 goldeneye. Saturday saw the male pintail on Marshland. Little egrets still showing very nice sometimes on the lagoons rather than the grazing marsh.

    Wader numbers have been just excellent with over 1500 lapwing using the grazing marsh to roost on along with 180 black tailed godwits, 8 spotted redshank, 116 dunlin on Saturday, but just a couple of redshank where are they these days?. Good to see 17 golden plover land in front of Ousefleet hide on Saturday with one already starting to show breeding plumage, as are a few of the blackwits, springs a coming folks. Four ruff were flying about this morning and probably came from where all the waders were at Ousefleet.

    With the colder weather all of a sudden barnie has been hunting during the day, while the raptor roost on an evening is still holding up to 27 marsh harriers, two hen harriers and last night merlin and buzzard joined the throng of 40,000 odd starlings passing through to roost along the river somewhere.

    A good selection of small bods about with some very showy redpolls and it was good to see the kingfisher back on site recently, scoffing a fish along the ditch. Plenty of cettis singing but just a few winter thrushes in the form of a few fieldfares, blackbirds and song thrushes.  The odd stonechat around the edges of the lagoons showing nicely and with the possibility of some cooler weather keep an eye out for those elusive bearded tits.

    Posted by Pete Short

  • 4 February 2016

    Message from a volunteer re: Singleton roost watch last night

    I've been tied up over the last three days with meetings but Steve Coates one of our volunteers and regular birders on the reserve sent us this message about the roost at Singleton last night, wow - wished I'd been there! Classic Blacktoft it sounds amazing, not often I'm jealous...........

    I thought you may be interested in the sightings from Singleton Hide this evening. Fortunately there were about 14 other onlookers who can substantiate the below, well at least up until the point at which a Marsh Harrier frightened a Bittern into a flight from the reeds right of the Lagoon across to First Hide, by which time there were only 3 of us left to witness the spectacle.

    The roost began with a shout, a distant Short Eared Owl patrolling the shores of the Trent. Barn Owl next, beautiful, balanced and a personal flyby 5m in front of Singleton continuing to haunt and hunt on the fringes of the Lagoon. Another cry, my own, as (we presume) a second SEO appears suddenly in the ditch directly in front of Singleton, the Ringtail rises, refusing to be forgotten. SEO, Barn Owl and Hen Harrier all within 20m of the hide at the same time and 15 people wonder where to focus. All three come and go over the next hour but the observers just go, satiated, satisfied. For the 4 that remain a Kestrel crosses above the reeds from East to West, a Sparrow Hawk from West to East, the 3 stars return randomly and all to a backdrop of 25 to 30 magnificent Marsh Harriers.

    We are down to 3, a Marsh Harrier harries, the Bittern takes flight, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Blacktoft.

    Sent from my iPhone



    Posted by Pete Short

  • 2 February 2016

    Reserve celebrates World Wetlands Day in Style

    World Wetland Day is certainly worthy of a bit more attention in my books than many people give it but then as a wetland manager I would off course say that! 

    Seriously though, where would we be without our Humber wetlands, left without some fantastic birding no doubt, so lets stick up for our wetlands and hope we start creating instead of destroying them. The day has been run for quite a few years now and its aim is to help highlight the plight of wetlands and just what they give us not just in terms of conservation but also in water resources for all sorts of human activities from fishing to drinking and farming. 

    One of the best ways to enjoy wetlands I always say is to get out there and do some birding and that's exactly what I did this morning!

    And yes folks I have to say Blacktoft is really impressive at the moment with the sight of over 500 lapwings 150 black tailed godwits, seven spotted redshank, several dunlin, 2 curlew, the odd snipe and a couple of redshank all mixed in with hundreds of teal, wigeon, shoveler and gadwall all greeting me up at our Ousefleet hide. Pochard and tufted duck numbers seem to be building and the two regular goldeneye tend to be on either Xerox or Singleton lagoons.

    Two coot have joined the little grebes on Xerox lagoon, a sure sign that spring is on the way and we are due for a sudden turn in the weather and an icy blast! Still at times hundreds of pink footed geese flying over the reserve but for the moment they seem to have changed feeding areas so are not regularly in the fields nearby

    On the way up I had been watching ring tailed hen harrier and marsh harrier and yesterday buzzard being battered by a kestrel. While at the weekend another new bird for the year came in the form of a fly through red kite, the raptor roost was excellent with merlin, barn owl, two possibly three hen harriers and loads of marshies.

    A few people got some great views of water rail at Ousefleet screen and managed to get some excellent pictures that I will hopefully share one day when the blog publishing problem is resolved, maybe 2017?

    Despite the blustery winds the weather has been at times glorious and fresh and there has been a good variety of smaller birds about including stonechat, cettis warbler, redpoll, reed buntings, skylarks, meadow pipits and yesterday quite a few redwing, fieldfare, and song thrushes. Hundreds of wood pigeon are descending on the rape next to the reserve which at times is quite spectacular, just don't tell the farm manager! 

    Sorry - still no photo's, seems like the web team are snowed under by big garden birdwatch work.

    Posted by Pete Short

  • 1 February 2016

    Hen harrier, pintails and tawny owl!

    Sorry still no photo's which is a bit frustrating because I've got some little corkers just waiting to be shown.

    Anyway its been a fantastic last few days despite the breezy conditions, the birds don't really seem to mind though especially the ring tail hen harrier who put on spectacular display yesterday flying up and around the reserve for most of the morning. The grey male is still coming in to roost too alongside lots of marsh harriers and barn owl. But the surprising bird of prey this morning was the Tawny owl that was roosting in the car park before being chased out by the birds mobbing it.

    Plenty of waders and duck using Ousefleet which just seems to be getting better and better with some pretty impressive numbers of waterfowl using it including it day in day out. The was superb eight spotted redshank roosting on there yesterday, ruff today and every day up to 180 black tailed godwits, 200 lapwing, redshank, snipe, curlew, and dunlin.

    Not to be outdone there was 475 whistling wigeon on site today, the best count of the winter, accompanied by a plethora of gadwall, teal, shoveler, and four pintail including two stunning full pin tailed males. A few tufted duck, pochard, and goldeneye about too plus our now resident little grebes (they usually leave the site in winter). The pink footed geese are still present in force feeding out on the nearby arable, you can hear the cacophony of gaggles from the hides when they fly about and see them as you walk up to Ousefleet.   

    A bit of a surge in passerines this week with an obvious influx of meadow pipits, skylarks and chaffinch, are some of the mippits and chaffinches on their way back north? Just a few fieldfare and redwing now but plenty of cettis warblers everywhere in the reedbed scrub. A good mix of commoner birds are well worth looking through with greenfinch, goldfinch, reed buntings, tree sparrows all joining the blue and great tits who are all starting to stake their territories.

    Out around the reedbed there has been regular stonechats and the reed cutting team have been seeing up to 4 water pipits so check out those meadows up at Ousefleet.

    Hopefully it'll be a few pictures next time I write my blog, if not I'm going to throw my dummy out of the pram!

    Posted by Pete Short

  • 26 January 2016

    Goldie plover and the three Bewick's swans

    Apologies - seems like I can't post most of my photo's at the moment so I'll have to add to this blog when the problem is fixed by our WeB team.

    The cold weather last week really got a bit of mid winter movement going here on the sands with Thursday seeing four new birds for the year in short eared owl (also seen at the weekend), brambling, jack snipe and three lovely Bewick's swans feeding in the field next to the reserve with the mute swans. The golden plover had all departed by this time as they often do but it was interesting that by Saturday and the rise in temperatures again they were back roosting out on the apex mudflats.

    A couple of the Bewick's swans (picture by Mike Pilsworth)

    Other birds such as the duck and black tailed godwits hung on by using the river Ouse to feed and roost on, interestingly this is the first time I've ever seen the Blackwits roosting on the river Ouse sandbanks. Again as the cold retreated and the temperatures rose the wildfowl have flooded back onto site with over the weekend and this morning a plethora of waterfowl using the lagoons including five pochard and five tufted duck. Good to see a few diving duck feeding on site among the hundreds of wigeon and teal. Plenty of shoveler about too with a peak count of 91 mixed in with the gadwall, mallard and goldeneye.

    Plenty of little egret activity with birds really having a liking for feeding on the grazing marsh.

    There was a first sign of a return north for the pink footed geese from East Anglia on Friday with a skein of them high over site then this morning another three over ignoring the several hundred that are still feeding in the fields near to the reserve. The two whitefronts were reported mixed in with them again yesterday but they can be difficult to find unfortunately.

    Oodles of Black tailed godwits at Ousefleet this morning along with an increase in redshank numbers to 11 in among the lapwings and whisps of snipe. Good numbers of curlew passing up and down river while lots of common, herring and great black backed gulls over on an evening to roost, make sure you keep a look out for any white winged gulls.

    Plenty of birds of prey on offer still despite the warmth with two hen harriers accompanying the 20+ marsh harriers in to roost and on Saturday merlin trying to catch starlings gathering to roost. The barn owls are still showing well in the evening while daytime raptors have included buzzard, regular sparrowhawk and kestrels.

    Lots of very excited resident birds this morning with great and blue tits singing, skylarks over, a few meadow pipits around. Also the stonechat pair are regularly spotted on the grazing marsh around the sheep, and the kingfisher is occasionally being seen along the ditch. The Cetti's warblers are singing too, plenty of tree sparrows and greenfinch on the feeders and still a few fieldfares and redwings along the hedgerows plus one or two wintering redpolls.

    Good to see a bit of fungi still appearing along the trail a real winter warmer and adding interest alongside the birdlife -pity I can't publish the photo's (mutter curse mutter). 

    Posted by Pete Short

  • 20 January 2016

    A stunning morning sunrise (and birds) - in pictures

    What a way to start the day as I went around the reserve shepherding the livestock and then out to see the Wardening team who are currently making headway with the reedcutting. Rather than waffle here's the morning highlights in pictures.

    The first glower of light across the frosty fen


    then on the grazing marsh as I shepherded the sheep

    And a couple of the Koniks enjoying the fresh morning

    One of the sheep showing how to keep your face warm

    Curlew flying over the marsh

    And the stonechats making use of the insects attracted by the livestock,

    And with one of the lads

    Wigeon breaking the morning ice, brrrrrrrrr

    This full summer plumage pintail was flying about and did touch down briefly on Singleton and Townend lagoons where one of our volunteers Sara managed to get a photo (Picture Sara Marcias Rodriguez)

    And snipe huddled on one of the islands on Townend

    And grey heron

    the team lifting reed to dry!

     With this beautiful stonechat looking on ready to eat any tasty morsels that have been uncovered

    Then on the way our a lovely party of beardies perched up on the reeds to give some stunning views

    And to finish with some of the 1300 pinkfeet feeding near the reserve, what a way to finish the morning!

    Posted by Pete Short

  • 19 January 2016

    A surfeit of stock doves

    Well its certainly not been half as cold as I'd hoped for but this has meant that at least the lagoons have stayed mostly open as a refuge for our wildfowl and waders which is good for everyone visiting the site, and its also helped our 'tenderfoot' stonechats keep up their strength and find the insects they need to survive. But cold weather always brings out the bearded tits and this started to happen a little on the weekend with birds being seen from both Townend and Singleton hides, I was hoping that by mid week it had started to get cold enough to let me do a full survey of them but instead this damp cool weather has made them even harder to find! 

    Just in a picture from visitor Russ Bridges yesterday of five beardies at the side of one of the lagoons - probably Marshland. Just proving that you can see them here sometimes! (double click in the blog to see them better) Many thanks Russ for the picture's

    I though it was going to be sunny today when this fantastic sunrise started this morning over the Wolds

    However this cooler period has started to ensure that at least two hen harriers are regularly coming into roost with the grey male and ringtail joining the marsh harriers. The cold also tempts out our barn owls to join the day hunting kestrels, sparrowhawks and peregrines. The days must be getting longer as a couple of the Marsh harriers have started to display over the reedbed!

    Marsh harrier from this morning

    Plenty of duck on the lagoons with over 250 wigeon and 500 teal but only a few shoveler which seem to have moved off pretty quickly to warmer climes (they usually winter in Spain and Africa). Not so many gadwall though but a few more mallard, mallard used to be one of our most common ducks here on the Humber but now they are probably getting to be very scarce indeed in winter, some say that its due to them staying on the milder continent but I think it is also due to their being very little food in the fields for them, where are all our wheat stubble's?

    The pinkfeet don't need stubble and that's probably why there were still 800 over the reserve this morning out to feed. No sign of the whitefronts unfortunately. Diving duck are represented by two goldeneye and just a single pochard, a bit disappointing considering the colder weather on the continent.   

    After the brief covering of ice up at Ousefleet as soon as it melted the black tailed godwits returned in number being joined by snipe, redshank, curlew and lapwings. Also still little egret being seen daily but no sign of bittern unfortunately, maybe the male will return to site soon ready to boom. Interesting down at Reads Island this weekend my WeBS count didn't produce any big numbers of birds, it seems as though the golden plover and lapwing had gone south already, but there was the first bar tailed godwits of the winter mixing in with a few avocets, black tailed godwits and other bits and bobs. The Barwits always seem to be pushed up the estuary by the cold.

    five (sorry put six, must have been dreaming!) species of wader at Reads Island - can you ID them all? Any takers?

    Still a good mix of passerine species on the site with my estimate of Cetti's warblers growing by the minute as I carry out my bearded tit survey's, I'm just finding them everywhere! Probably 25 to 30 birds and maybe more, as said they are just everywhere! Also of note have been over 100 fieldfare, a few redwing, redpoll, yellowhammer, plenty of reed bunts and of course the stonechats. I had the pleasure of a pair of stonies hunting around the Koniks as I shepherded them yesterday, difficult to use one of the lads as a mobile hide as you have to be careful he doesn't give you a playful nip with his gnashers* (*reference the Beano - Denise the Menace).

    Anyway it gave me some nice photo's of the male so worth the risk maybe!

    Not easy to see but the Wardening team out doing the annual reedcut (you may see the flames from the reedbed) have been having up to four water pipits flying around so keep an eye on the sky if you see the team out carrying out their duties near Singleton hide.

    And last but not least one of my favourite 'boring birds' (those birds that for some reason everyone overlooks because they can't ID them but deserve a bit more love from birders!) the beautiful stock dove, there were five of them in front of Ousefleet hide this morning all looking very dapper and despite the very dull weather still gave some nice photo's. But then I went down towards the Trent and had a shock when I found a flock of 83 all feeding in the rape field next to the reserve, these days big flocks of stockies are pretty rare so it was a real pleasure to see so many together. Hopefully they'll stay around and allow me to get some better pictures in a bit of sunshine.

    And some of the flock flying about











    Posted by Pete Short

  • 15 January 2016

    Winter bites and suddenly there's ice!

    At long long last winter seems to have remembered what it should be like and brought a bit of a chill to the Sands signaling a subtle change to the range of birds on offer and bringing a few x-tra goodies to the local area. Early in the week there were a couple of smart little European white fronted geese mixed in with about 400 pinkfeet just outside Adlingfleet, the day was a little dull but I managed to get a few record shots. Keep a look out for them if you spot a flock of pinkies feeding in the fields nearby there may be more on the way if its cold on the continent.

    White-fronts and pinkies

     And on the way back from our volunteers thank you do in Goole it was pleasing to see about 45 corn buntings using one of the stubble fields next to Whitgift church (along church lane from Little Reedness to A161). Always pleasing to see lots of these little chubby buntings these days and fortunatly this area is always good for them if there is a suitable field for them to feed in.

    Starlings and Corn buntings  

    Strangely with the drop in temperature we've been getting quite a bit of fungi emerging and after such a poor autumn I'm at last starting to get excited about them all over again - yes sad I know but just have a look at the photo's. Haven't had time to ID any of them!

    These are all iced over - lovely

    You may be thinking that its been a slow week on the reserve but you would be wrong! The harrier roost really has responded to the drop in temperatures with at least two hen harriers, a grey male and a ringtail coming in to roost and up to 23 marsh harriers, also on offer has been peregrine, barn owl, spadgerhawk and kestrel.

     Some off the lagoons still haven't frozen up yet so a good number of wigeon, teal, mallard, shoveler, shelducks and gadwall on them along with goldeneye, pochard, little grebe and up to two little egrets.

    I have no idea what these wigeon are feeding on at Townend - all that lovely grass and they seem to be eating mud!!!??

    Flyover little egret

    Shelducks set against a lovely blue sky

    Waders too have been impressive with up to 240 black tailed godwits, 30 snipe, then lapwings, golden plovers, curlews, redshank, ruff and dunlin - pretty respectable for January!

    Spot the marshie! - also black tailed godwits and lapwings

    Black tailed godwits landing


     The little bods have been good too with today a very notable influx of song thrushes about with at least five on Singleton lagoon bund. I had a great encounter with a few fieldfares next to Ousefleet hide which were joined by a male stonechat! Good numbers of reed buntings feeding and also goldfinch and greenfinch mixed in with the tree spadgers. There is also a lovely great spotted woodpecker frequenting the hedge and chance of kingfisher along the feeder ditch in front of the hides

    Simply fieldfare

    And a close up

    I Still cannot believe how many Cetti's warblers are about at the moment, out surveying the bearded tits this morning I just heard them chuntering in about every bit of available reed on site! Mind you the seeing them is sometimes rather a different story

    This one was only yards away, can you spot the little brown jobbie.

    A stunning male stonechat in the reedbed

    Those robins still keep begging for food

    And with the cold maybe a few beardies may start to show near the hides, these snaps were taken on my survey transect this morning - you can see they are now avidly eating the reed seed

    We'll probably start to freeze up over the weekend but the raptor roost at least should be good value if not a little chilly birding, wrap up well with plenty of base layers as you need to hang on fairly late to see the hen harriers some nights.

    The colder it is the more the koniks feel at home, still positively tropical for these lads.




    Posted by Pete Short

  • 11 January 2016

    A whole lotta wetland

    Sometimes just being sat in one of the hides watching the wildfowl and waders can be inspirational, Saturday night with the sun going down and the birds packed across Ousefleet Flash was certainly one of those moments with black tailed godwits, ruff and pewiting lapwings all jostling with the teal, wigeon and shoveler massed in front of the hide. For me this just about sums up the importance of the Humber for so many wetland birds that have been displaced from the ever decreasing available habitat on the surrounding well drained agricultural fields. Fortunately our well managed little wetland here on the confluence of the rivers Trent and Ouse has for the last few months really delivered the goods to help partly compensate for the intensification of the hinterlands. It would be good to think that one day a more sustainable method of land management will help resolve the current sad situation.

    This weekend there was again up to 180 Black tailed godwits, 20 ruff, and at times over 2000 lapwing milling about the wet grassland and surrounding mudflats, also on the wader front were some dapper snipe at Marshland hide, redshank, golden plover and curlew.

    Ruff and godwits (Tim and Si Jump)

    Snipe (Tim and Si Jump)

    Teal seem to be really liking the shallow flooding with over 500 daily and then up to 230 wigeon, also on offer are gadwall, shoveler, mallard, plus a single pochard today and regular goldeneye out on Singleton. Still a few pink footed geese around and keep an eye out for the four whoopers who are coming and going. Another goose to look out for a white fronted geese, apparently there were two in with the pinkfeet near to the reserve at Adlingfleet at the weekend.

    Goldeneye (Tim and Si)

    And shoveler and teal

    There were two little egrets again the other day but a trip over to Alkborough yesterday confirmed that there are at least seven in this part of the estuary, this really made me think back to the days when little egrets were so rare, not so long ago I may add!

    Raptors are still putting on a show particularly the Marsh harriers although the hen harriers can be elusive, but at least the ringtail is still around as I could see it going to roost last night on the reserve just after it had been hunting over at Alkborough (talk about a busman's holiday!). Ol'barnie was also showing well as per usual particularly up at Ousefleet and then in front of Xerox.

    Good to see that the Kingfisher was back showing at the weekend along with the stonechats still from the gate at Ousefleet, also noteworthy was redpoll feeding in front of reception and great spotted woodpecker today. Lots of Cetti's about singing, what is going to happen this year in terms of breeding numbers I wonder as it currently looks like there population is set to rocket. Plenty of water rail squealing in the reedbeds particularly at dusk, hopefully with a bit of a cold spell predicted they may start showing a bit more along with a few beardies.

    Along church lane  at Reedness just opposite the graveyard (spooky) there were 43 corn buntings feeding today (13/1) in the unploughed field, stay in your car and they often perch up on the wires. 

    This was also an interesting sighting on Sunday! A boat left high and dry by the tide just on the end of the reserve.

    Wild swans are always nice to see and a short trip from my home yesterday to have a look at the regular wintering flock near Wroot in North Lincolnshire certainly paid dividends, it was that good I thought I'd put it on the blog to give anyone who fancied a look could if they wanted. They are often feeding on the main drain road that goes past Wroot towards Crowle, stay in your car and try and park in a safe place and hopefully you should get some pretty good views of at the moment up to 65 whooper swans and 8 lovely Bewick's. Here's a few pictures. 

    Updated info - I was sent this by a local from the area about how to view in a place a bit safer than on the main road

    It is true you can see them from the road between Sandtoft and Wroot, however if you head towards Alderfen Fisheries and continue down Common Lane, which leads to the River Torne, it is a much better view and safer as you don't have to avoid the traffic. The swans don't seem to care if you stand at the gate entrance of the field, to get a closer look. We think they like to eat the tops of sugar beet/mangles so you may see them scattered in other fields. There is also a large flock of pinkies further down the Torne, but I know you have lots of them!


    One word of caution to visitors, the roads in that area are can be very icy, and Idle Bank Road from the Sandtoft end has a peculiar camber and over a certain speed you start to bounce which is not pleasant. Many cars have ended up in the ditch! So please take care, if you plan to visit.

    Adult and Juv


    With a monster mute!

    Two adults

    Whoopers (double click on the blog to see full size)





    Posted by Pete Short

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Coast on a stormy day with heavy rain falling on coastal headland

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Your sightings

Grid reference: SE8423 (+2km)

Whooper Swan (4)
10 Feb 2016
Marsh Harrier (9)
10 Feb 2016
Water Rail (1)
10 Feb 2016
Barn Owl (2)
10 Feb 2016
Cetti's Warbler (1)
10 Feb 2016
Little Owl (1)
10 Feb 2016
Pink-footed Goose (500)
10 Feb 2016
Tree Sparrow ()
10 Feb 2016
Black-tailed Godwit (62)
9 Feb 2016
Spotted Redshank (8)
8 Feb 2016

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Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 53.69844,-0.72462
  • Grid reference: SE843232
  • Nearest town: Goole, East Yorkshire
  • County: East Riding of Yorkshire
  • Country: England

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