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Recent sightings

  • 2 September 2014

    The marshland is alive with the sound of ping!

    It seems that the bearded tits are now emerging from their moult and making up for all the last month when they have been skulking in the reedbed, This morning there were parties if birds in adult plumage showing well at most lagoons with some flocks totaling twenty.

    As always my advice is if you want to try and see them - pick a calm morning and arrive for 9.00am. When in the hide listen out for their distinctive pinging and then look in the area of reedbed where the noise is coming from. Birds are most active between 9am and 10am after that its pot luck.

    Bit busy at the moment so here's a quick summary of the sightings over the last couple of days

    Little stint - one flew through with a dunlin today

    Grey plover - 7 west

    Ruff - up to 17

    Spotted redshank - peak of 5 (24 at the weekend)

    Black tailed godwit - 6

    Ringed plover - 1

    Snipe - 20+

    Lapwing - 405

    Merlin - one yesterday

    Marsh harrier - up to 6

    Yellow wagtail - 87 in to roost and up to 40 in with the cows

    Pintail - up to 7 on Singleton and parties of up to 28 west

    Common sandpiper - 1 today on Ousefleet

    Bearded tit - many active birds around lagoons max 50

    Golden plover - a few individuals but scarce for time of year

    Goldcrest - one this morning


    Posted by Pete Short

  • 29 August 2014

    Spotted fly-snatcher

    The last few days have seen a mix of birds calling in at the reserve with yesterday seeing the elusive Temminck's stint suddenly reappearing on Townend briefly as well as in the morning an obvious inland 'fall' of willow warblers, a spotted flycatcher and a garden warbler brought about by the morning drizzle. I was at the time over the other side of the river at Alkborough poaching a pectoral sandpiper - on my day off I may hasten to add! Hopefully it will find its way over to the lagoons here on the Sands for the weekend.

    Other notable sightings recently include merlin, hobby, 21 spotted redshank (including the first juveniles), curlew sandpiper on Wednesday, 6 ringed plover, 2 pintail, then a mix of other waders and duck including 16 ruff, 31 black tailed godwits, 2 greenshank, curlew, oystercatcher, snipe, a single avocet, lapwing, golden plover, dunlin, then a few water rails and bearded tits around the edges of the lagoons.

    Still plenty of marsh harriers around and a few yellow wagtails, little and great crested grebes on Singleton and the odd little egret flying through.

    Posted by Pete Short

  • 26 August 2014

    Every days different in August

    Yes August migration is really making every day feel a little different at the moment with the birds moving through at a blistering pace with the help of the continuous Northerlies. Mind you today its an easterly and the tides are rising so you never know what may turn up.............

    The Bank holiday started well on the Friday with both Temminck's stint and two curlew sandpipers on site - however these all seemed to depart during the night which was clear and calm. A totally different day on Saturday with a very active Bittern and a very showy juvenile merlin while the male Montagu's harrier came into roost late evening.

    Wader numbers can vary throughout the day but recent peaks include 31 Black tailed godwits, 16 ruff, 6 spotted redshank, 77 redshank, 2 green sandpipers, greenshank, 3 ringed plover, 3 dunlin, 40 golden plover, curlew, plenty of snipe and lapwing then grey plover, whimbrel and bar tailed godwit west.   

    Other birds/counts of note include regular peregrine and hobby, little egret, 630 teal and 340 mallard, 20 yellow wagtails, water rails, and quite a few bearded tits showing around the edges of the lagoons.

    Good views of willow warbler, chiffchaff, blackcap, whitethroatreed and sedge warbler can be had around the trails at the moment as they feed among the reeds and willows.

    And a final word of wisdom - have a good look at the ducks, last Tuesday I took a photo of an Aythya type duck on Ousefleet lagoon that I wanted to have a check on some of its features, then forgot to check on my camera until Saturday evening - as I suspected it was a female scaup!

    And sorry still no photo's!

    Posted by Pete Short

  • 21 August 2014

    Temminck's returns

    Yes the Temminck's stint has bravely returned to the muddy expanse of Townend lagoon where it was happily feeding along with a multitude of other waders including ruff, redshank, snipe, lapwing and at one point right next to a curlew. To see one of the smallest waders right next to one of the largest was quite amazing and I did get a few pictures that I would have shown you if only I could publish anything photo's on the blog. Unfortunately window seven doesn't seem to want to let me so I'm afraid you'll have to come and see it for real!

    After a quiet day yesterday a few more waders have been returning to site with green sandpiper, and 14 spotted redshanks also seen on top of the above.

    Other notable recent sightings include Kingfisher, 2 hobbies, peregrine, little egret, whinchat and short eared owl. Unsure if the Montagu's harrier is still coming in to roost, not had time to check

    Also plenty of duck around with 462 teal and 10 wigeon today. The teal included the colour tagged bird which someone kindly confirmed the number on it for me yesterday and put them in the log, this now almost certainly indicated that the bird was ringed in the Carmargue in France. Hopefully more details to follow. 

    Posted by Pete Short

  • 18 August 2014

    Temminks and Montagu's top the BBQ

    Since the high tides put water onto the site last week the birding has been pretty good with the day of the Big Biochar BBQ being particularly good with the arrival of an adult Temminks stint that stayed for most of the day on Townend lagoon and gave some excellent views. Add to this both male and female Montagu's harrier on the same day and also still around at the weekend and its been some top birding.

    Temminks stint (photo by Mike Johnson)

    Male monts from earlier in the month


    Plenty of other goodies too with up to 26 ruff, 20 black tailed godwits, 21 spotted redshank, 5 greenshank, 4 green sandpiper, dunlin, redshank and lapwing while on Thursday there was a passage of 11 grey and 6 ringed plover west. The Temminks reappeared briefly on Saturday while there was also bittern and of course the marsh harriers.

    Plenty of duck and geese around too particularly on Ousefleet with recent noteworthy peaks of 450 mallard and 300 teal being joined by gadwall shoveler and a couple of tufted ducks plus up to 500 greylag geese.

    Interestingly one of the teal has been noted as having a yellow bill saddle marker attached with a letter J on, these are not used in the UK so the bird was marked on the continent possibly from initial enquiries in the Carmargue in Southern France. However there should be a number with the letter so if anyone has a photo of the bird or has seen both the letter and number then please contact me so we can get a final fix on where the bird was ringed. 

    Yellow wagtails have been very showy this year with a good number in front of Ousefeet hide feeding in with the wildfowl while there has been a distinct passage of willow warblers through the site.

    Posted by Pete Short

  • 12 August 2014

    In a knot about waders?

    Still a reasonable mix of waders about at the moment despite the heavy rain raising our water levels. Ruff numbers have been up to 11 and spotted redshank 23, other counts include 47 redshank, and 250 lapwing, 4 black tailed godwits, 7 green sandpipers, 3 greenshank, common sandpiper, dunlin and a few snipe.

    A peak of four Knot have has been nice, two of which were still in their brick red summer plumage but it seems the wood sandpiper has moved on after its extended stay. A bit of water has gone onto Ousefleet too with the high tides so this may add to the mix in the next few days.............

    Below - snipe and redshank

    Juvenile and adult ruff

    Spotted redshank and lapwing

    Wall to wall lapwings


    Other recent notable sightings have included 2 garganey, pintail, 5 little egrets, spoonbill (over), hobby, bittern and then the two Montagu's harriers that roosted in the reedbed on Friday night with the marsh harriers.


    A couple of garganey were on first - a moulting adult and juv (not great light!)


    Also keep a look out for yellow wagtails, water rails and a few bearded tits around the edges of the lagoons while there are still young gadwall, great crested grebes and little grebes mixing in with the moulting duck.


    Posted by Pete Short

  • 9 August 2014

    Waders continue at Blacktoft

    We are now into August and we are right in the middle of the main wader time at Blacktoft.  Today there were 22 spotted redshank, 30 snipe, 40 redshank, 7 green sandpiper, common sandpiper, ruff, wood sandpiper, little ringed plover, lapwing, dunlin and curlew.  Here are a few photos taken by volunteers John Whittle and Mike Johnson of waders at Blacktoft.

    Our wader walks continue next Saturday (16th)  and then on Saturday (30th) - both start at 10am and offer a great chance to learn about these amazing birds that visit Blacktoft to fuel up before continue migration to other continents.  To book on one of these events please email us at

    Elsewhere today - little egrets, water rails, plenty of duck, grey herons, little grebes, pied wagtails and few yellow wagtails.  These wagtails have started to add a bit of white to the back of our Konik ponies! 

    Posted by Michael Andrews

  • 6 August 2014

    Conserving Nature - The Big Biofuels BBQ - 15th August

    What an earth has Biomass and Biofuels got to do with Nature conservation I can hear you all mumbling! Well why not come along on the 15th August for the day and find out for yourself just how conservation on a landscape scale can be achieved by giving waste biomass an economic value - I think you will be pleasantly surprised at just how interesting and futuristic it is!

    The day will showcase all the weird and wonderful work the Humber reserves and Humberhead Nature Improvement Area are doing to try and make the wider countryside fit for the future and full of lots of great birds and wildlife. This includes working with industry, universities and farmers as well as a host of other partner organizations that are all vital to achieving a sustainable countryside.

    So what's going to be happening! (no need to book just turn up on the day - entry's free)

    • See how charcoal is made in the environmentally friendly Exeter Retort - (we're hoping that some charcoal will be available to buy on the day for your own BBQ!)
    • Take a close look and hear about the reed briquettes - perfect for burning on log burners and open fires
    • Learn more about reed biochar and how it can be used to increase agricultural production or just in your home compost
    • Enjoy a locally produced quality burger or hot dog cooked on Willow charcoal made from the coppice harvested on the reserve! (Vegi burgers will also be available)
    • See the awesome Softrak low ground pressure tractor in action and talk to LOGLOGIC who make the machine
    • Find out more about why grazing livestock including cattle and Konik ponies can be so good for managing habitats
    • Hear what the RSPB and UK Government Department of the Environment are doing on a national scale to make use of waste biomass
    • Have a walk around the reserve and see our wonderful wetland and brilliant birds
    • Learn how wetlands can help reduce flooding of homes and farmland
    • See the working gassifier made by Goole College and learn how biomass can be used to run a car engine!

    It should be a great day and is open to all and everyone from interested amateurs to people from industry, conservation and farming - we really want people to come along and learn more about biomass but also just to have a great fun day out!

    And not forgetting of course trying to see what you can do to make a Future Landscape that we can all enjoy and be proud off

    Here's my little vision...................

    A new landscape that can produce our food sustainably but has nature and conservation at its core, wetlands that can be used to produce biofuels, support wildlife and irrigate crops as well as some set aside and managed primarily for wildlife. Wildlife in abundance with bitterns booming and lapwings tumbling over fields in the spring. Skylarks soaring high and hares boxing in the fields, willow tits scalding you as you walk past wet woodlands and corn buntings jangling in the Barley. Cuckoo's cuckooing and turtle doves purring like when I was a lad, butterflies and insects buzzing in amongst wild flowers while egrets and glossy ibis feed in the ditches and ponds full of frogs.

    Yes I know it sounds fanciful but then in such a modern world we need to have modern blue sky thinking and decide just how we are all going to save our Countryside and wildlife from its continuing decline!

    So here's a challenge - young or old - Why not bring your vision to the event and we'll put it up in the visitor center on our Futurescape Vision of Tomorrow Board! (Or you can even draw a picture)

    (PS please note there will be a small charge for the Food)





    Posted by Pete Short

  • 4 August 2014

    Great white flyover

    Another excellent weekend with a good range of species including a flyover great white egret, unfortunatly the lagoons full of sticklebacks didn't seem to tempt it down to feed in with its smaller cousins the little egrets.

    The wood sandpiper was about too along with a nice range of waders including black-tailed godwit, greenshank, spotted redshank, green sandpiper, ruff, snipe, little ringed plover, whimbrel, curlew, dunlin, golden plover, lapwing, oystercatcher, avocet and redshank.

    Here a picture from this morning taken at Xerox of bt godwit, redshank, spotted redshank and greenshank.

    Great news is that the 5 young avocets can now fly - good news after such a difficult start to their breeding season (parent with young this morning)

    Birds of prey include regular hobby sightings, marsh harrier and up to three peregrines. (check out brians pictures of the juv marshies in the picture gallery)

    Yellow wagtails are still pretty good on Marshland while lots of whitethroats, willow warblers, sedge and reed warblers are now passing through the site on their way south.

    Most of our ducks are pretty brown and drab at the moment but more notably the very strong westward common scoter passage still continues with flocks of 100 and 60 over this weekend!

    Final pictures are from the weekend - sent to me by Tim and Si Jump

    Wood sandpiper (at the back of a redshank)

    Little ringed plover

    Juvenile Ruff


    Posted by Pete Short

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Your sightings

Grid reference: SE8423 (+2km)

Pectoral Sandpiper (1)
26 Aug 2014
Marsh Harrier ()
31 Aug 2014
Water Rail ()
31 Aug 2014
Singing/breeding calls heard
Black-tailed Godwit (2)
31 Aug 2014
Ruff (16)
31 Aug 2014
Spotted Redshank ()
31 Aug 2014
Bearded Tit ()
31 Aug 2014
Tree Sparrow ()
31 Aug 2014
Yellow Wagtail (3)
31 Aug 2014
Spoonbill (5)
31 Aug 2014

Contact us

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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Note: Some reserves are not served directly by public transport and, in these cases, a nearby destination (from which you may need to walk or take a taxi or ferry) may be offered.