Kings of the skies

Marsh Harrier © Mandy West

The largest of our harrier species, seeing a marsh harrier slowly floating across the landscape as it looks out for its next meal, or tumbling through the air as the male performs its impressive courtship display is certainly a sight you'll want to see

WHERE CAN I SEE THEM?

The Humber Estuary has fantastic spots to watch marsh harriers all the way from RSPB Blacktoft Sands at the start to YWT Spurn at the mouth of the estuary:

In the reedbeds at the start of the Humber Estuary you'll find roosting marsh harriers, joined by the occasional hen harrier and merlin. Visit RSPB Blacktoft Sands.

The thousands of wintering waders that congregate on the mud flats of the Humber Estuary entice marsh harriers, along with other raptors such as merlin, peregrine, hen harriers,  and kestrels. Visit YWT Spurn at the very mouth of the Humber or YWT Paull Holme Strays, east of Hull, for impressive views.

Nearby YWT Spurn you'll find YWT Welwick Saltmarsh, the largest area of saltmarsh on the north bank of the Humber Estuary. This is a fantastic location to view wintering raptors and owls; short-eared owl, merlin, peregrine, marsh harrier, hen harrier and kestrel are all regularly seen.

WHEN SHOULD I GO?

Whilst you can spot birds of prey throughout the year, winter is undoubtably the best time for those looking to watch these raptors in action.

WHAT ELSE CAN I SEE AND DO WHILST I'M THERE?

If you're on the Humber Estuary looking for birds of prey then you won't fail to miss the dazzling displays of thousands of waders as they take flight and flock together - the tell tale sign that an aerial predator is around.

WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE A DAY OF IT?

Taking in the various locations along the Humber Estuary will most likely take you a weekend rather than a day! But do look to extend your winter visit inland to  sites like YWT North Cave Wetlands, YWT Wheldrake Ings and Tophill Low for impressive displays of overwintering waterfowl - and yet more aerial raptors!