top of page


On Thursday I went to North Cave Wetlands Nature Reserve which is located a few miles south of Market Weighton in East Yorkshire. North Cave was formerly a sand and gravel quarry until the original forty hectare site was acquired by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in 2001. In 2008 an area to the south and west of the reserve began to be quarried and within the next twelve to fifteen years the one hundred hectares will be transformed into land for wildlife. During 2012 twenty hectares of land to the south of the reserve was turned into flood meadow and is now called Dryham Ings.

The reserve currently has six lakes, a flood meadow and five hides with four of them looking over the lakes and the other giving views of Dryham Ings and the area currently being quarried. When I arrived it was a dry and bright but cloudy day and the sun would come out from lunch time onwards. I started by visiting the viewing area at the south east corner of the lakes and sat under the picnic tables were a couple of Mallards hoping that someone would feed them but they flew off as nobody had any food for them.

I now took the path up the eastern edge of the reserve to the first hide which looks west out over the Village Lake. Out on the water were several Teals, Wigeon and Coots and on a small island there was a trio of Snipes and a few Redshanks and Starlings but my interest was drawn to a bird on the far side of Village Lake. Just beyond a wire fence at the edge of the water a Marsh Harrier currently had its talons in the head of an unfortunate duck trying its best to pull it through the wire fence. The duck struggled to get free but eventually gave up and so did the Marsh Harrier as it could not dislodge the duck from the fence, sadly the duck now appeared to be dead.

I returned to the path and continued north along the edge of the reserve past a female Blackbird perched on a branch watching me as I turned west and headed for the Turret Hide where the Green Winged Teal had been spotted in recent days. From this hide you can look south over Village Lake, but the majority of the view is over Island Lake. Currently on the lake were at least forty Shelducks, several Pochards and Gadwalls as well as over a hundred Teals.


Over on a small strip of land at the eastern edge of Island Lake I spotted a Teal that looked a little different from the rest and this was the Green Winged Teal. The difference between a Common Teal and a Green Winged Teal is that a Common Teal has a long white horizontal line on its main body and a Green Winged Teal has a short vertical white line on its side near the front of the body. The Marsh Harrier now made a second appearance flying low round the edge of the water before swooping down on an unsuspecting duck in some tall grass at the edge of the water and then flying off with its prize.

Soon after a Grey Heron flew in and landed where the Marsh Harrier had snatched it's prey from. I now returned to the path and walked to the north east corner of the reserve and turned west along the northern border past Snipe Field to the Reedbed Lake Hide. From here I was able to see more Redshanks, Teals and Shelducks as well as a few Coots on the water.

I followed the path to the north western corner where it turned south round Far Lake and Carp Lake and as I walked down the path I saw Blue Tits, Great Tits and Long Tailed Tits in the trees. Out on Far and Carp Lakes were more Coots, Gadwalls, Teals & Mallards and as I reached Dryham Lane I turned right and headed for the Crossland Hide which is located at the north west corner of Dryham Ings.

The water levels on the western third of Dryham Ings was higher than usual but there were still some islands showing above the water with several Oystercatchers wading along the edge of them. There were more Teals and Mallards as well as a few Wigeon & Shovelers at the far side of the water. I returned to Dryham Lane and returned to the path that goes along the southern banks of Carp Lake and as I walked along a Green Woodpecker flew up from the bushes and landed near the top of a large tree and further ahead, hopping along the path, was a Song Thrush.

Siskin (Male)

The path now reached the Main Lake and turned back to Dryham Lane and the Song Thrush disappeared into the bush as I passed. As I walked along Dryham Lane I spotted half a dozen Siskins high up in the trees picking at the catkins dangling from the tree branches. Halfway along the southern banks of the Main Lake is the South Hide which is a good spot to see Kingfishers. On the Main Lake were plenty of Coots and Tufted Ducks with a few Teals on the right hand banks and a minute or two later a group of Redshanks flew over the hide and landed on a small island at the back of the Main Lake.

Tufted Duck (Male)

A pair of Oystercatchers flew across the front of the hide, flying two circles of the water before landing at the right hand edge of the water. Just beyond the northern border of the reserve a very large group of Lapwings rose up from the ground as they were chased by a Peregrine Falcon, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. After a couple of minutes swirling around trying to avoid the raptors they flew south towards the hide and continued over it and out of site.

Suddenly a flash of blue went low over the water across the front of the hide from right to left heading for the bottom left hand corner of the Main Lake. At the far side where the Redshanks had landed earlier there was now a Ruff hiding amongst them. The Coots and Tufted Ducks now moved a little closer to the hide and I decided to go and see if I could see the Kingfisher in the bottom left hand corner of the lake. I walked back to where the path had taken me onto Dryham Lane. Sadly there was no sign of the Kingfisher at the edge of the water but the Song Thrush was still on the grass path about thirty yards away.

Blackbird (Male)

After a couple of minutes looking for the Kingfisher I returned to Dryham Lane and walked back towards the car park. Between the Main Lake and Village Lake there are some feeders which were currently attracting Blue Tits, Dunnocks, Robins, Blackbirds and Pheasants. After a brief look over at Dryham Ings at the other side of the road, having spotted just two Canada Geese, I returned to the feeders where a rather friendly Pheasant was stood just the other side of a wooden gate looking up at me making a low whimpering noise, hoping that I had some food for it which sadly I did not.

Pheasants (Male)

The Pheasant now jumped up and landed on the left side of the gate before walking across to the other side and jumping down and landing this side of the fence. A Blackbird now landed on the fence and then trotted across the gate and flew off as Robins, Dunnocks and Blue Tits now perched in the trees. After watching the Robins and Dunnocks for a few minutes I made my way back towards the car and as I went past Village Lake there were now approximately two dozen Greylag Geese on the water. A Little Egret landed at the water's edge and in the grass at the other side of Dryham Lane another Song Thrush was making its way along looking for food.

I have attached a few photos and a full sightings from my visit to North Cave Wetlands.

Recent Posts
bottom of page