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Blacktoft Sands RSPB East Yorkshire

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Site Location Details

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Site Details

Blacktoft Sands is part of the exciting complex of habitats around the Humber estuary. The tidal reedbed is the largest in England and is important for its breeding Bearded Tits, Marsh Harriers and Bitterns. It is also home to the largest concentration of Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings in northern England as well as hundreds of species of rare and specialist insects. The reserve has saline lagoons, which are rare in Europe and are an ideal habitat for a variety of breeding and migrant waders, including Avocets. The grazing marsh is important for wintering ducks and breeding waders and the willow scrub provides food and nest sites for Tree Sparrows and Whitethroats. Over 270 species of bird have been recorded on the reserve and 60 of these have bred. The reserve has six observation hides, a reception centre, a picnic area, toilets and a car park.


Blacktoft Sands RSPB
RSPB Blacktoft Sands Nature Reserve, Ousefleet, Goole, DN14 8HL

Contact Details

Telephone: 01405 704 665


Birding Sites in the Blacktoft Sands RSPB Area

Prominent Species at Blacktoft Sands RSPB

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Additional Site Details


By road: from Goole, take the A161 road to Swinefleet, turn left at the mini roundabout in Swinefleet, turn right at the next T junction and follow the minor road for the next five miles through Reedness, Whitgift and Ousefleet. About 0.5 km out of Ousefleet heading towards Adlingfleet, turn left into the reserve car park (all turns described are marked with brown tourist signs).
By public transport: the nearest railway station is Goole. Bus 357 runs from Goole to the reserve; for up-to-date times ring TraveLine on 0870 608 2608 or visit
Sustrans cycle route: The National Cycle Network passes through Ealand and Keadby, both around 10 miles south of the reserve.


The reserve is open daily from 9am until 9pm (or dusk when earlier). All visitors must report to the reception hide upon arrival. Entry is free for RSPB members (please bring your card). If you are not a member the following charges apply: Adult £3; Pensioner £2; Child £1; Family £6.


Car park: Car and coach parking (including disabled bays); cycle racks available. No height restrictions or overnight parking.

Opening Times

09:00-21:00 (or sunset if earlier)


Viewing points: six hides and one viewing screen.
Nature trails: there is a 1.2-km long trail which links all the observation hides together. The path leading to five of the hides is firm and level and so is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. The path to Ousefleet hide is grassed and can be difficult in wet weather.
Reception hide/Information centre: Open daily 09:00-17:00 (weekends only in winter).
Toilets: disabled toilets
Picnic area
Binocular hire
Group bookings accepted - please contact 01405 704665.

Key Areas / Routes

Blacktoft Sands protects several important habitats within the Humber Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest. The RSPB is managing these habitats for the benefit of their wildlife and to help people get the most out of the reserve.
The reedbed, at 122 hectares, is the second largest tidal reedbed in the UK. It is home to breeding birds such as Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits and Bitterns. Other important wildlife includes Water Voles and the rare Brown-veined Wainscot moth. The RSPB are looking after this habitat by cutting reed on rotation, creating new ditches and pools, and keeping scrub in check.
The brackish lagoons inside the reedbed are used by breeding waders, including up to 40 pairs of Avocet, as well as waders and wildfowl on passage. The RSPB maintain good conditions for these birds by controlling the water and salinity levels. They also keep the lagoons clear by cutting back invasive plants and excavating any silt that builds up.
The reserve's 32 hectares of grazing marsh are good habitat for waterfowl and waders, including large numbers of wintering Lapwing and Golden Plover. The marsh is kept in good condition by grazing it with cattle, cropping it for hay, cutting back thistles and harrowing bare ground to encourage weeds. Willow scrub has been planted on the reserve to provide habitat for declining countryside birds, including Song Thrushes, Turtle Doves and Tree Sparrows. Scrub is kept in good condition by cutting on rotation. Nest boxes and feeding stations are provided for Tree Sparrows, which has helped them increase to 28 breeding pairs by 2004.
The reserve provides a good example to landowners of how to create and manage reedbeds, brackish lagoons and grazing marsh. The RSPB aim to use this in promoting other similar local conservation projects.

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The BirdGuides Team.

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British & Irish Records Archive Blacktoft Sands RSPB

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