Hiding on the south bank of the River Ouse where the waterway widens into the Humber Estuary, you’ll find Blacktoft Sands. This East Yorkshire nature reserve is a watery wonderland where the reedbed rules. The vast swaying expanse is the largest tidal reedbed in England and home to Marsh Harriers, Bitterns and Bearded Tits.

Wildfowl and waders feed and nest in the six shallow lagoons and on the grazing marshland, while hidden mudflats provide safe roosting for Golden Plover and Lapwings. Over in the scrubland between our hides, warblers and a thriving colony of Tree Sparrows dart around.

We look after the habitats at Blacktoft nature reserve to help our wildlife thrive. Our reedbeds, the second largest in the UK, are grazed by ponies and we cut areas back to create a mosaic of reeds at different heights and ages. We also create and maintain pools hidden in the reeds. Inside the reedbeds are several lagoons. These are managed to maintain the ideal conditions for breeding and wintering waterfowl, including up to 40 pairs of Avocets. Migrating birds also stop by in spring and autumn.

Cattle and sheep as well as the ponies roam the 32 acres of grazing marsh. This keeps it in good condition for waterfowl and waders, including large numbers of wintering Lapwings and Golden Plovers.

Willow scrub is cut on rotation to keep it just right for birds like Song Thrushes and Tree Sparrows. Cetti’s Warblers have just returned to the reserve, making the most of the area between the scrub and the reedbed.

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