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Recent sightings

  • 20 October 2014

    Waders 'Au Natural'

    Over the last few days there seems to have been a bit of a resurgence in waders on the lagoons alongside the constantly rising numbers of golden plover out on the Apex mudflats. Here's a few snaps of them - I've tried to keep them natural to show the interactions and behavior of the birds which is equally as fascinating to watch. (I'll try to do a full update of recent sightings tomorrow as there as been plenty to see).  Meanwhile sit back and take a look at the photo's hope you enjoy.

    Lapwings in front of the hide at Ousefleet

    Ruff and redshanks - Marshland

    Black tailed godwits - Marshland

    Preening ruff - Marshland

    More Blackwits

    Dunlin - nice to have them back in front of the hides again, there numbers have been so low in recent years

    And next to a blackwit they look tiny!

    Golden plover flying over Ousefleet

    And finally snipe and dunlin together at Marshland


    Posted by Pete Short

  • 17 October 2014

    Autumn colours Autumn and Winter Birds

    Its been another great week here on the Sands with a good range of species seen including mid week a few sea birds. Although I haven't totted up the bird species count for the year I get the feeling in my that variety wise and quality its shaping up to be a pretty good all round year. I'll be doing a bit of a review of the year in December so maybe then I'll be able to let you know exactly what's what - what.

    This morning it was real mild and mellow but the bearded tits were going berserker with flock of up to 41 high flying over the reedbed! All in all I think there may have been over 100 birds trying to move away from site, and this may not be a bad thing as I seem to suspect after looking at the reedbed that it may not be a very good year for phragmites seed production that the beardies rely on for their winter food.

    Below - 41 beardies high over the reedbed!

    Lots of other birds around on what was a truly breathtaking early morning livestock check! Probably over 1000 pinkfeet over the site as they headed out to feed on the arable, and the 560 greylags that are roosting on Ousefleet aslo added to the goosefest, the noise alone was incredible. Why don't people from the UK seem to appreciate greylags like continental birders - is it because many are feral?

    Pinks overhead

    Now don't these greylags look nice?

    2500 golden plover and 500 lapwing whirling about at the Apex were equally as entertaining especially as there was also Marsh harrier and a merlin following in close proximity to take advantage of any small birds flushed from the cover of the reedbed. Across the site I counted an incredible 80+ snipe many of which were on Marshland but Xerox seems to be attracting a few waders at the moment with 38 black tailed godwits this morning as mid October surprise. Also a few lapwing, redshank and 12 dunlin feeding alongside the teal and shoveler. 61 gadwall were on Singleton along with a few Tufted ducks and little grebes.

    Gadwall on Singleton

    Mid  weeks rain seemed to ground a few migrants with the first redwings and bramblings of the year (also two bramblings this morning), and a distinct passage of rock pipits, through. Other continentals included a few song thrushes, goldcrests, chaffinch and blackbirds while more local migrants include hordes of skylark and lesser numbers of yellowhammer, meadow pipit and goldfinch . The wind and rain which also produced the grey phalarope also produced 2 kittiwakes and 7 gannets west.

    Black tailed godwit and wildfowl on Xerox


    Other birds of note have included 2 bullfinch, 3 little egrets, ruff, siskin and redpoll (both very scarce this year), and of course our regular Kingfisher and stonechats with Cettis warblers now up to 3 possibly 4 birds.

    A bit more fungi appearing while the Roe deer have been entertaining with a buck currently joining the doe and her two calves.



    Posted by Pete Short

  • 13 October 2014

    Grey phalarope becomes the years 30th species of wader!

    Stormy weather always get me excited (ornithologically that is)  and with easterlies and rain I was hoping that we would get a seabird of two, so as you can imagine I didn't need much excuse to go and have a meeting on the reserve today. A quick flog up to Ousefleet hide had produced a nice October tally of 16 spotted redshank and a little egret which I was just photographing when Becky one of our ex-intern volunteers said what's that funny looking bird on the water. I asked is it a duck and she said no a wader - and as it happened it turned out to be a fantastic little wader - a grey phalarope - well spotted that lass!

    A bit far away for my camera and in foul weather - but here's a record shot of the little sea going gem

    We've only had about 5 or 6 records of grey phal since 1973 so it is a pretty good record indeed and takes the wader species list up to 30 for the year (and we haven't had sanderling yet!) Earlier in the day Matt our assistant warden had jack snipe on the newly de-silted lagoon at Townend and I had the first four whooper swans go south over the reserve and two merlins chasing each other. Yes indeed I do love poor weather, especially when its turning up birds like this - quality not quantity!

    Despite a bit of fog over the weekend there were also some excellent sightings thus continuing the Octoberfest, a late Osprey that went east while two little stints were mixed in with the 300 roosting dunlin and four ringed plover. Still a few ruff and plenty of snipe around while the golden plover and lapwing numbers are building up out on apex with 1700 goldies at least on Saturday (the goldies always appear with the rain).  

    Golden plover out on the Apex (NB this can only be viewed from the other side of the river!) but you may see the large wheeling flocks in the air from Singleton hide)

    Lots of pink footed geese over two with some skeins numbering over 500 now and looking pretty impressive when theirs good light. (below - pinks on Saturday). Not a huge number of duck but still a good number of gadwall and shoveler and lesser numbers of mallard, wigeon, teal, and tufted duck. A small party of Barnacle geese were also seen at the weekend which again may be of wild origin rather than being of the feral population.

    A quick count of the marsh harrier roost the other evening produced at least nine but their may have been a few early birds I missed.

    One little bird that seems to be recovering its numbers this year is the stonechat - on Saturday I had two superb males together (Photo's below). Also probably due to good breeding seasons there are regular kingfisher records and a good build up of cettis warblers. Bearded tits were again erupting at least on Saturday.

    Here's a little bobby dazzler

    Also noteworthy today was a count of 1200 avocets on Reads Island - an amazing number for this time of year!

    And another reason why I like the rain - Fungi! These are bonnet's of some kind and are on the path to Ousefleet hide (still to ID)






    Posted by Pete Short

  • 10 October 2014

    Revel in the roost

    The recent high tides have produced one of the best dunlin roost for years here on the lagoons with at least 500 this morning on Xerox looking and sounding pretty spectacular as they wheeled about and crammed around the islands in tight nit groups. A good look through them also produced a nice little stint to add to the recent wader tally. Other waders included 12 spotted redshank, 10+ ruff, grey plover, 55 snipe, then a few curlew, redshank, lapwing and fly over golden plover.

    Below - roosting dunlin


    Ruff, redshank and snipe on Marshland (Mike Johnson)


    Plenty of pink footed geese flighting out of roost too over the hides honking and squealing as they go out to feed on the arable fields, then a good supporting cast of wigeon, teal, shoveler, and gadwall on the pools.

    Pinks overhead

    Marsh harriers still present and merlin seen earlier in the week. A few little egrets still hanging around with up to three on Ousefleet recently.

    After a lull there was suddenly a massive movement of small birds south this morning with skylarks and meadow pipits, greenfinch, chaffinch, linnet and goldfinch, plus quite a few swallows. Oddments of yellowhammer and a reserve rarity house sparrow were notable.

    Around the lagoons and willows were 2 stonechats, cettis warbler, kingfisher, plenty of chiffchaffs while there are still a good number of grey wagtails moving through and bullfinch yesterday (see pictures by Tim and Si Jump). 

    Bearded tits were again erupting this morning in the fine bright weather and over the last few days quite a number have seen to be strongly erupting off site being pushed by the south easterly tail winds.



    Posted by Pete Short

  • 8 October 2014

    Back to the future - part II - mud glorious mud!

    Some of you who have visited over the last month or so may have noticed that we have been doing a bit of work with a large excavator on the lagoons. Well this has been the main part of the five year funded work program funded by WREN Environmental and is known as Back to the Future, mainly because we aim to create a future landscape using some ideas from both the past and future.

    Our main focus has been on improving the wetland complex for the benefit of many of our key wetland birds and wildlife such as bitterns, bearded tits, water voles and toads. Grazing of the Koniks has been another part of the project in an attempt to create more natural management of the wetland system and introduce lots of mosaics in the vegetation

    However this phase of the project was designed to rehabilitate one of the brackish lagoons by removing the accumulated silt and land forming the ground to help create better feeding conditions for both breeding and migrant waders.   

    The team have put a lot of effort into trying to design a lagoon that will provide the maximum amount of feeding area for the waders and by lowering the lagoon back down to it's original level we should be able to keep a shallow water level for much longer than we have been able to recently.

    We are all really excited about the potential of the work for the birds that use the reserve and have our fingers crossed that it will give some excellent birding for next year when the food levels have built up again.

    Here's a couple of pictures to give you an ideal of the work on Townend lagoon

    Just after excavation

    And now with a bit of water in it............

    Its also time to give a bit of an update on the konik grazing part of the project as I feel that this is really starting to give some very positive indication of just what the grazing is achieving, especially with a bit of careful water control by the team.

    Recently I have been concentrating quite a bit of time birding at Ousefleet to record bird usage of the area grazed by the ponies in winter. The hope was that their grazing and dunging would help create perfect conditions for chironomid worms and also soil worms to flourish as well as lots of beetle larvae, and I have to say that maybe this late summer things are looking positive.

    recent peak counts of waders include 111 snipe, 72 curlew, 27 ruff, 7 black tailed godwits, 300 lapwing, 12 spotted redshank, plus smaller numbers of redshank, golden plover, greenshank, green sandpiper, common sandpiper ringed plover, single red necked phalarope, wood, and pec sand, and today 150 roosting dunlin. Duck counts have been over 500 teal and 500 mallard plus good numbers of shoveler, and gadwall and the odd pintail. The surrounding vegetation has been used by lots of bearded tits and warblers while little egrets and spoonbills have fed on the pool. In the spring over 80 avocets fed on the pool. So some promising results here!

    Below - one of the ponies the other evening with the seasonal scrape at Ousefleet covered in teal.


    Posted by Pete Short

  • 6 October 2014


    What a last few days! pectoral sandpiper, wood sandpiper and great white egret, with a pretty impressive supporting cast to back up the quality. I also had a phone call from one of the Wardens of the Humber Wildfowl refuge to say he had seen the glossy ibis fly over on Saturday morning at the eastern end of the reserve!

    I'm going to start with the waders as they have been very nice indeed with Ousefleet flash been particularly good in the evening where I've usually been camped out. A count of 115 snipe feeding on the flash last night at dusk suggested that we may have up to 130+ on site, other notable wader peaks include 27 ruff, 14 spotted redshank, 2 black tailed godwits, 40 dunlin, and 72 curlew. Other waders (no counts), include lapwing, redshank and then fly over ringed plover, grey plover and golden plover. High tides this week so may be some interesting waders on the tides....

    Below ruff (left) and pec sand on Marshland lagoon

    Not too many marsh harriers but they are still being pretty impressive to watch, also buzzard, sparrowhawk and peregrine about.

    On the better calmer mornings the bearded tits have still been showing pretty well at the Ousefleet end of the reserve with birds obviously now moving off site. Other birds that are moving at the moment are the duck with lots of wigeon coming in for the winter plus still a few pintail and also plenty of shoveler gadwall and teal.

    The pink footed geese are now starting to appear in good numbers with over 1000 over yesterday and plenty this morning. At least 8000 on Reads Island on Sunday so it could get pretty amazing if they start to eye up the potatoes left in the local fields. Below Pinks over Reads Island

    Water rails on Marshland have been consistently good especially on the right hand side and now with most birds in adult plumage they are well worth spending a little time to look for.

    At least two Cettis warblers on site now and occasionally showing well as they settle into their winter territories. Also good numbers of goldcrests passing through this year, also of note kingfisher, grey wagtails and a few rock pipits about with this bird photographed by Tim and Si Jump on Thursday - probably Scandinavian rock pipit.





    Posted by Pete Short

  • 2 October 2014

    Aloo chat and Jay2'O

    The last week has certainly been a busy one with a good range of birds passing through site giving some classic autumn birding. And with the lagoon restoration work finished the reserves wetland looks in prime condition at the moment for just about anything to turn up.

    So lets start with those lovely little chats, some of my favourite passerines and it's not often when you get both whinchat and stonechat in the same flock round here. They often perch on top of the vegetation with these birds on top of my least favourite plants - the semi-invasive Garden Angelica



    Plenty of other passerines around with cettis warblers now back for the winter, loads of grey wagtails about, chiffchaffs, reed warblers and the odd blackcap, coal tit on Sunday and plenty of skylarks and meadow pipits moving south. 

    Jays seem to be on the move too with a number of small parties passing through the reserve and surrounding arable - here are two which landed in the hedge on Sunday

    Bearded tits are also erupting enforce with five recorded in a local garden in Whitgift but also up to 50 lifting at the Ousefleet end of the reserve on calm mornings.

    Cream of the crop goes to the fly through great white egret seen on Sunday and the long staying wood sandpiper (below).

    But also noteworthy has been counts of 80+ snipe feeding on site, 16 ruff, 22 spotted redshank, 55 curlew, 60 shoveller and 91 gadwall. Water rails have been showing really well around Marshland lagoon while there are now several hundred pink footed geese flighting over the site to feed on the arable and up to 60 golden plover in the fields next to the reserve.

    Juv ruff and teal in front of Marshland hide

    Marsh harriers still present in good numbers along with sightings of both peregrine, buzzard, sparrowhawk and merlin.

    With high tides next week anything could happen.....................





    Posted by Pete Short

  • 27 September 2014

    brilliant biarmicus bonanza

    With the cool morning and still conditions the beardies (panurus biarmicus) were erupting in force this morning. Always a highlight of my Autumn these little gems are hard to beat in terms of their beautiful colour's in the late summer sunshine.

    Here's a few snaps of a group I managed to catch up with this morning. If you want to have a chance of seeing them erupting then I'll be opening the gates at 8.00am tomorrow, best time is from about 8.30 - 9.30am.


    Posted by Pete Short

  • 26 September 2014

    What a difference a week makes!

    Its so amazing how the weather can affect bird numbers on site and with the eastern cloud now lifting bird migration seems to have started in earnest again

    Marshland seems to be the place at the moment with the waders showing really well over the last couple of days, this includes the wood sandpiper, greenshank, 6 ruff, 15 spotted redshank, 22+ snipe, dunlin, redshank and lapwing. Elsewhere there was a magnificent roost of 62 curlew at Ousefleet flash, a party of 17 ringed plover west and a few parties of up to 100 goldie plovers. An early jack snipe too was notable - unfortunately though it was hidden on the grazing marsh and only flew while I shepherded the girls (cows that is!)

    Waders this morning were allowing a few nice shots to be taken

    Wood sand - this bird is really in superb fresh plumage

    Ruff were welcome too


    Another bird that seems to be enjoying the late stickleback feast on Marshland lagoon is little egret with up to 13 birds this morning. Add to this bearded tit, water rail and a calling cettis warbler and this area of the reserve is giving some nice birding.

    The pink footed geese are back now too with small parties now going over to feed on the surrounding arable. Good numbers of teal including the one with the white head, plus a few pintail, wigeon and shoveler. Where are the shelduck though? There's usually quite a few back from moult by now.

    Other notable records have included daily grey wagtail, chiffchaffs, stonechat and two Jays. Locally there seems to have been quite a few jays moving about the open treeless landscape of the local arable. 

    And I'll leave you with a the superb sunset from Wednesday evening out on the grazing marsh



    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)

Pectoral Sandpiper ()
7 Oct 2014
Great White Egret ()
6 Oct 2014
Pink-footed Goose ()
17 Oct 2014
Garganey (1)
17 Oct 2014
Marsh Harrier ()
17 Oct 2014
Water Rail ()
17 Oct 2014
Black-tailed Godwit ()
17 Oct 2014
Ruff ()
17 Oct 2014
Spotted Redshank ()
17 Oct 2014
Greenshank (2)
17 Oct 2014

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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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