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Recent sightings

  • 20 April 2014

    Barn owls come out to play!

    Last night the barn owls were really good value up at Ousefleet hide and along side of the reserve, and unlike the past few months hunted and showed themselves well before the light had faded. I even had a nice female sat on the fence just as you come onto the reserve. The ambiance of the evening was also added to by the sound of at least five grasshopper warblers reeling, booming bittern and another superb sunset, this time behind the Konik ponies. A pity they had to disgrace themselves a little by deciding to break wind every two minutes - ah well I suppose we are in the countryside!

    Here's the bird hunting at Ousefleet - the Koniks make a great mobile hide.

    Plenty to see in the day too with up to 9 black tailed godwits too-ing anf fro-ing between between the Sands and Alkborough, also other recent wader records include 20 curlew, oystercatcher, 50+ avocets, redshank, lapwing and several snipe still giving some topping views as below.

    And the avocets were really nice on Marshland this morning - here's a couple in flight

    There were some excellent sightings of both bittern and little egret on site this morning while the marsh harrier were still on top form.

    A little cool this morning for a lot of migrant passerine activity but still plenty of sedge warblers, and blackcaps singing plus around the lagoons swallow & both sand and house martin. One thing I did notice was lots of displaying and singing skylarks and meadow pipits on Ousefleet and this female wheatear when I went out to check on the Koniks she may be from the Northern Greenland population that always seem to move through the area at this time of the year. The late lone fieldfare though may have been the result of the cold North easterly.

    And to finish with a few more photo's from the last couple of days! So much to see at the moment!

    The first ducklings on Marshland!

    Beware! this red fox is just a little too regular in front of the hides at the moment - this vixen was at Ousefleet and is probably feeding cubs as she collected some food she had hidden

    And if you are visiting the reserve and on your way home look out for little owls - this is a regular bird that sits just outside Adlingfleet on the S bends.

    And for anyone wondering how the Fallow deer got on at Reads Island on the massive December surge tide - there was at least 13 yesterday which is great news

    And finally - as part my last blog for a couple of weeks - the Koniks and last nights evening sunset!


    Posted by Pete Short

  • 18 April 2014

    Peek-a-boo panurus

    Bearded tits (panarus biarmicus) are probably one of our most elusive birds here on the Sands and one of our reedbed specialties. This year it looks as though we may have about 110 to 120 pairs nesting on site which equates out about 10 - 15% of the UK's population. At this time of year they do feed around the edges of the lagoons and this morning I managed to get a view of a couple of birds from First hide as they searched for the chironomid flies. However, sadly I cannot guarantee you'll have the same luck but its certainly worth a try for half an hour or so if you're visiting as you look for our other reedbed stars the marsh harriers.

    These soft bodied non biting midges the chiromomids help feed both the adults and young at this time of year and are very important for the first and second broods (beardies can have up to three broods per year). As part of my long term study of the little sprites I often check in the reedbed at this time of the year to see if they are feeding young and today seemed like a perfect day. 

    Below - chironomids in a spiders web at Ousefleet - these have also been attracting lots of bats to the reserve recently including Noctules, daubentons, Natterer's and little pipistrelle's

    So off I went to my usual site taking care not to disturb all the other schedule one species that are busy nesting on site and as I had suspected due to such good early season weather conditions I quickly confirmed that indeed the Beardies are feeding nestlings, just ready for easter! 

    On my way back through the marsh I came accross a pair that were feeding up on insects within the reedbed and took a quick snapshot of the male who was low in the reed,  I thought it would be rubbish because of all the reed in the way - strange how you get a half decent shot when you don't expect to!

    Lots more stirring in the reedbed too with a little bit of sunshine - I managed my first shot of  Sedge warbler today

    And this male reed bunting singing his heart out

    Other birds enjoying the insects include the moorhens - this female is protecting a chick

    And the black headed gulls too

    And now for something totally different!  I'll leave you with a picture of the sun setting at Ousefleet Yesterday, very nice indeed



    Posted by Pete Short

  • 17 April 2014

    A cracking month continues!

    After Mike's excellent blog and Black tern pictures yesterday I thought I wasn't going to have to do a report until the weekend but this mornings birding extravaganza here on the Sands certainly put paid to that thought!

    Superb is the only way to put it with a list of quality birds on offer starting with this male garganey first located asleep in a flock of redshank on their way up to Iceland (not the freezer shop of the same name in Goole btw!).

    Later on Tim and Si Jump got this top photo of this lovely migrant duck with a tad bigger greylag!.

    Other highlights came in the form of some extreme close ups of the marsh harriers and avocets and a distant view of bittern, but also on the list was an adult little gull, whimbrel (on the deck at Ousefleet), ruff, and little egret.

    Avocets having a bit of rough and tumble again!


    Plenty of migrants in too with yellow wagtail, sedge warblers, reeling grasshopper warblers, and blackcaps but no sign of yesterdays lesser whitethroat.

    April is certainly shaping up to be another top month in what is currently turning out to be a top year for scarcer birds on site

    And to remind you - here is the picture that I promised of the cranes that were seen on Sunday and Monday - thanks Pat!


    Posted by Pete Short

  • 16 April 2014

    Black Tern visits Blacktoft

    Todays top sighting was the black tern that decided to visit Blacktoft.  It turned up late morning and was seen on many lagoons from marshland down to singleton lagoon.  Here are a few photos of the black tern at Blacktoft today these first few were taken by our volunteer Mike Johnson

    These next few were taken by our volunteer John Whittle 

    Up at Ousefleet today - we had a visit from a greenshank, 2 green sandpipers, a few ruff, lapwing, redshank and 30 avocets were present there.

    Spring arrivals - grasshopper warbler about, plenty of sedge warbler, blackcaps, willow warbler and a few yellow wagtails around.

    Our marsh harriers continue to entertain in front of reception and down towards singleton lagoon.

    This weather is bringing out quite a few butterflies as well including orange-tip, brimstone, peacock and small tortoiseshell.

    Posted by Michael Andrews

  • 13 April 2014

    A few pictures of the Green winged teal and Cranes

    What a day it was yesterday with the reserve truly excelling for the members weekend visit - there were some amazing views for everyone of the marsh harriers and avocets while some got a glimpse of the bittern.

    However stars of the day just had to be the green-winged teal on Ousefleet and two cranes that flew into the winter reedcut areas and roosted overnight. Some real excitment on what was one of the best days I've ever been on site.

    At around 6pm a marsh harrier flushed the GW teal (an American vagrant species) in front of the hide at Ousefleet and allowed me to get some nice record shots. I also got the odd record shot of the cranes but they are poor as they were a little distant from Townend hide where I was working - however I thought they were worth while showing until  Pat C's photo's are e-mailed. they are far better than mine and so when I get time I will download them on a review of the weekend.

    gw teal on the left with the vertical stripe, common teal on the right. Also note the stronger cream border around the green on the head, another ID feature. Again double click on the image to enlarge on your computer

    Head up


    A head on view of the stripes!

    On its todd

    and out of the water

    And the cranes...........

    And about to land - I got a little over excited at this point, as you would/should with magnificant Cranes flying about in front of you!

    Couldn't resist a last photo of the harriers


    Posted by Pete Short

  • 12 April 2014

    Cranes fly into reedbed


    Today saw a few interesting sightings so I thought I would update you on some of the action from Saturday 12th April.

    Starting with the headline - this afternoon saw two cranes fly into the reedbed viewed from singleton hide.  They were seen a few times lifting and flying around there before disappearing into the reedbed once again.  Have a look at this photo below:

    Before that a green-winged teal was found up at Ousefleet and has been there all afternoon.

    Spring arrivals - the grasshopper warbler was heard again near marshland hide, some yellow wagtails up at Ousefleet, willow warbler around, plenty of sand martins, some swallows, some house martins and quite a few blackcaps and sedge warblers too.

    Bittern was active again today with some very long flight views.

    Marsh harriers continue to entertain in front of reception/first and down at singleton.

    Plenty of avocets up at Ousefleet.

    The weasel was around again today and some butterflies emerged in the sun this afternoon.


    Posted by Michael Andrews

  • 11 April 2014

    A Reeling in the Reedbed

    With the weather still holding fare the migrants continue to trickle in with the first grasshopper warbler in today giving its distinctive reeling song from within the reedbed at Marshland, very apt. Also willow warbler, blackcap and a few more sedge warblers almost gave the feeling of summer in the increasingly verdant vegetation. Swallows are now recorded daily while sand martins mainly come in at roost time.

    Blackcaps are giving some great photographic opps at the moment - this one was singing at Marshland today

    The bittern continues to show well most days with it grunting this morning rather than full booms. Marsh harriers still showing well but the females are starting to lay their eggs so in the next week or two things may quiet down. Avocets are just about ever present with a pair of displaying lapwing this morning and single redshank on Ousefleet. Snipe and curlew are still regular in front of the hides while the pair of oystercatchers fed the other evening in front of First hide and gave me a chance to take some nice snaps of this splendid wader.

    In Orkney the local name for Oystercatcher is Shaldar and if I ever own a house out in the wilds then I'm gonna call it just that! - well I can dream............

    Interesting there was a sighting of a fly through red throated diver yesterday, this makes it three years in a row that RTD has been seen on the Sands after several years of no records.

    Both little grebe and great crested on site at the moment

    And quite a few shoveler

    Another early easter chick fest with the first moorhen nippers


    Posted by Pete Short

  • 9 April 2014

    Wonderful Wildlife - Brilliant Birds!

    I've been out doing a bit of early and late spring survey work this last couple of days and what a time I've had on site with a wealth of wildlife just bursting out of the marsh. It really has been a bit of everything as the rain seems to have even brought out a tadge of fungi as well as the boxing hares.

    If you double click on this photo it will enlarge it enough to see the hare's boxing. Apparently it is often the females that box!

    A yellow wagtail (first of the year), bittern, little egret, twite and two more sandwich terns were the birding highlights of the morning today but on Tuesday there was also little gull in with the black headeds on Ousefleet. Migrants are still trickling in with sedge warbler, chiffchaff, swallow, sand martin and blackcap being the more regular sightings. The avocets and Marsh harriers continue to entertain - its often difficult to pull away from watching them when I'm due to return to the office or home for tea! 

    Male bittern just dropping into first lagoon this morning

    Not too many other waders at the moment (not helped by the westerly airflow) but snipe, curlew, oystercatcher, redshank and lapwing all present in small numbers. All the duck are in superb plumage with the shoveller looking particularly nice in their summer garb.

    Just to give you a bit more of a taster especially if you are visiting soon here's a few pictures from the last three days alone! I think I must have taken about 700 or so but its often difficult to get good pictures of moving wildlife!

    Below - more hare shenanigans - this is four hares not a sequence shot!

    Plenty of avocets at the moment - these were put up by a pair of fighting marsh harriers

    The cow slips a re just starting to flower.

    Shoveller are one of my Fav ducks, this lovely pair were at Townend

    Marsh harriers are really busy nest building!

    While the early week rain seems to have encouraged out the fungi - must ID this one when I have time!

    And as the hare's are so nice at the moment I thought I'd finish with this picture of one inspecting our newly renovated paths!




    Posted by Pete Short

  • 7 April 2014

    Breeding season starts in earnest and summer migrants return

    Wow it was a bit of surprise this morning when just undertaking some monitoring work I rounded a corner to see my first chicks of the 2014 breeding season! Amazing the eggs must have been laid early to mid March, now greylags are very early breeders but I must admit they seem to get earlier every year!

    The weekend was excellent with stunning displaying marsh harriers, top avocet action and the bittern is certainly quite active now and booming! Add to that 600 sand martins in to roost on Friday, blackcaps singing, sedge warblers, and swallows then spring is certainly creeping in the on the marsh.

    The twite though are still with us and showing well around the car park, a single male hen harrier came in to roost on Friday with barn owls showing well that evening too, two goosander flew up river today and the buzzards entertain along side the marshies.

    Wader wise everything is still very tidal but snipe, curlew and oystercatcher can be seen at any time of the day. The five black tailed godwits and spotted redshank are a little more difficult to connect with!

    The good news is that the path repairs have finished at a record rate and we are now ready to reopen - so tomorrow we will open the gates at usual times if anyone wants to visit. However, please note that we will probably not open the visitor centre so you may need to bring a snack or two with you!

    Here's a few bird snaps from the weekend

    below - avocets were great value on Saturday fighting and splashing around while 80 were present on Friday morning!

    And the Marsh harriers were just sublime - this is an adult male at Singleton

    And this is an adult female at Townend

    And some of the territorial air battles are breath taking! But difficult to do justice in a photo!

    Even this little Blackcap obliged - just in from Africa and singing his little heart out. Sylvia warblers are just top birds but not always easy to see.

    Mind you this trio of male mallards put on a real show on first showing just how nice our British birds can be - reflections and all!

    He's behind you! look who got a shock when he went a little too close to Mr angry the marsh harrier! Gulp - this barnie got a real clattering




    Posted by Pete Short

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Your sightings

Grid reference: SE8423 (+2km)

Green-winged Teal (1)
14 Apr 2014
Avocet (27)
18 Apr 2014
Tree Sparrow (7)
18 Apr 2014
Whimbrel ()
17 Apr 2014
Spotted Redshank ()
17 Apr 2014
Little Gull ()
17 Apr 2014
Black Tern (1)
16 Apr 2014
Water Rail (1)
14 Apr 2014
Redstart (1)
13 Apr 2014
Wheatear (1)
13 Apr 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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