Yorkshire Photo Explorer

RSPB Blacktoft Sands

Blacktoft Sands Marsh harrier female

RSPB Blacktoft Sands is a tidal reedbed on the river Ouse near Goole, East Yorkshire. There are a number of spacious hides overlooking different parts of the reedbed and lagoons. This is a great place to see marsh harriers, along with a vast number of other species. You can also see hares and stoats, but unfortunately I didn’t see any on my visit.

On my arrival, the knowledgeable member of staff at the reception told me that the rarest bird of prey in the UK, the Montagu’s harrier, had been spotted that morning. I headed down to the Singleton Hide to try to see it. When I got there, the marsh harriers were out and flying over the reeds hunting for food. They were far away, so my photos are not the best quality, but it was great to watch them hovering over the reeds searching for their prey. The male and the female were dancing over the marshes and whilst I didn’t get any particularly amazing photos, I was pleased I managed to get one with them both in:

Blacktoft Sands Marsh harriers

There was a buzz of excitement in the hide as the Montagu’s harrier was spotted in the far distance. It wasn’t coming anywhere near us, so the best I got were some very blurry poor quality pictures. However I can say that I saw it!  There was also a bittern flying about, but again it was too far away for any good photos.

Blacktoft Sands Bittern

A fuzzy bittern

There were a lot of geese around and ample opportunities to practice taking some shots of birds in flight, as well as some portrait photos.

Blacktoft Sands Goose

Blacktoft Sands Goose

Further along the river there were a lot of avocets, as well as some shoveler ducks.

Blacktoft Sands Avocet

Blacktoft Sands Shoveler

RSPB Blacktoft Sands is a good location for bird photography and I will be back to hopefully see more of the marsh harriers. The helpful ‘recent sightings’ on the website shows the range of species you can see here, plus the photos on the Blacktoft Sands blog show that you can get some really good pictures. Here are a few more of my photos from my visit:

Practicalities
Approximate post code (for sat nav) DN14 8HR
Parking There is free parking at the reserve
Entrance There is an entrance fee for non-RSPB members (£4 at the time of writing). See the website below for current charges
Website https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/find-a-reserve/reserves-a-z/reserves-by-name/b/blacktoftsands/index.aspx

This is the location of RSPB Blacktoft Sands:

Notes for next time
  • Come first thing in the morning or later in the evening
  • Come at different times of year for different wildlife

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