Friday, 19 February 2016

Post 389 - Half-term Excursion to Humber Estuary

Arriving at Spurn Point!
Hey everyone, well today is post 389. It's half term and as Dad had taken the week off we managed to get some great family days out, and one planned for a place I'd never been before. Well I say that, I got to a bit of this place when I went to Blacktoft Sands as that's part of this huge landscape. I'm talking of course of the Humber Estuary and in particular I headed to Spurn Point!

Now I've mentioned before that Yorkshire's big, well it took over two and a half hours to get there. It was worth it though as I saw lots of great birds and a number of nature reserves that were all quite close to each other. It meant that I saw lots of habitats and species in one day! It was a lovely bright day, cool and a bit wild at points too.

It was a long way so I made a full day of it so today's post is a bit longer than usual!
So where did I get to?

Spurn Point

View across to the point
A Stonechat watching me.
Well I headed here first. I knew it would be near high tide when I got there I hoped lots of the birds would be close to the land rather than way out on the mud flats. I've had quite a few trips lately where the birds are quite far away so Dad and I planned that.

You have to be careful though as a lot of days at High Tide you can't walk down to the point as it washes over the sand bank. On Tuesday we could have gone to the point safely but it was a 6 mile walk to the point and back again. Dad's got a bad knee and needs an operation so we only went about a third of the way.

Waders galore!
It didn't matter though really as there was plenty to see. There were some dunes with grass where I saw a lovely Stonechat flitting about. Then there was a bit of grassy sandy areas before the mudflats and sea. I saw Shelducks, Sanderlings, Knot, Godwits (Black-Tailed and Bar-Tailed I think), Redshanks, Dunlins, Curlew and Turnstones,

We went to the sea hide near the visitor centre for a while and watched the sea for seals that had been seen that day but sadly we didn't see any this time. I think I'll have to come back and have another look though as apparently you can see whales here sometimes too,

Kilnsea Wetlands

At Kilnsea entrance
We moved on from Spurn as it was getting near to dinner time. On the way there we had passed another nature reserve, Kilnsea Wetlands. When I read up about this reserve I found out it is quite new and has been made to replace habitats being lost at other parts of the estuary.

Brent Geese in flight
It didn't seem to matter to the birds that it was new though. I saw quite a lot here including Goldeneye, Teal, Wigeon, Lapwing, Mallards and Brent Geese. Dad and I were the only ones here and it was lovely to see the birds so close and in a place that was really peaceful.

Well it was peaceful for us but the birds kept taking off and landing. I'm not sure why, I couldn't see any raptors and there wasn't anybody around to disturb them. It gave me a chance to get some nice photos of the birds in flight though. Eventually we left as we were starting to get hungry and had to find a place for dinner.

Hodgsons Fields

Hodgsons Field
A Buzzard being seen off!
After Dinner we carried on to the next reserve. When I read about this one I knew it was going to be a reserve that would be much better in Spring or Summer but as we had to pass quite close by to it I thought it was worth at least finding out where it was. As you can see from the photo it was quite bare grassland at the moment. Looking around through the binoculars there weren't many birds, the odd Woodpigeon, Great Tit etc.

As we were thinking of going I then saw the only raptor I saw that day apart from Kestrels hovering at the roadside on the journey. There were a group of crows in the trees and a few suddenly went up into the air. I then saw why, a Buzzard was coming their way. A few of them started to mob the Buzzard until they were certain it was going away again!

Welwick Saltmarsh

Welwick Saltmarsh?
Little Egret.
So after that we carried on with our journey to another reserve that was close by. Well, Dad used the Sat Nav to get to this and as we didn't see any signs or anything we think it was this reserve. It was certainly a big area of saltmarsh. I got to the big bank and had a look round and took a few photos. There wasn't much to see and on top of the bank it was really exposed and wild. I thought it was going to be a little disappointing as we turned round and started back towards the car, cold and not having seen any birds.

Then, as if to make up for it, I saw a big white bird flapping its way across our path a little way ahead. As it came closer I could see it was a lovely Little Egret! Fantastic.

Paull Holme Strays
Silhouetted Sandpiper 

At Paull Holme Strays
Feeling a bit chilly it was back into the car and starting to head towards home, but there was one last reserve on the way that we thought we would have a look at as once again we had to pass close by it. This reserve was a big area of mudflats again next to the river. There was a climb up a big sea wall to see it and the people coming down as we got there warned us it was a bit wild. It sure was, I found it hard to get many photos as it was so windy - it was very hard to keep the camera still. The views were great though, you could see a long way. According to the Wildlife Trust this is a place where lots of waders come to roost and feed. There weren't so many when I got there but there were some Common Sandpipers feeding. I also watched a huge ship go by called Nordic Nelly!

Common Sandpiper (bottom right) dwarfed by
Nordic Nelly
So a great day out and I saw a lot of places that I hadn't seen before, I also hadn't seen Brent Geese before so that was nice too (watch out for a post on them soon!). It was great to see this landscape which is a mix of huge river estuary and all its wildlife next to all the ships and ports on a wild and windy day. It's nice to see that nature can exist alongside all the industry of the ports, it certainly shows how important the Wildlife Trusts' work is making sure that there is enough of the different types of habitat that the birds need to feed, roost, nest etc. It will be good to see it in the summer or Autumn too so I hope to get back there then.

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. Great blog post Zach , really enjoy reading about your visits to all these reserves , cracking photos to .

  2. I remember sailing past Spurn Head point on a North See ferry returning from Zeebrugge at 6am - ghostly lights in a misty dawn.

  3. Great photos as always Zach and it looks like you've had a lovely time! - Tasha