Summer breeding success at Tophill Low

marsh harriers
marsh harriers

Volunteers and staff at Yorkshire Water’s award winning East Yorkshire Nature Reserve, Tophill Low near Driffield, are celebrating the success of the wetland’s first ever breeding Marsh Harriers, second ever pair of Cetti’s Warblers and three otters this summer.

The fantastic additions to the site’s varied wildlife are thought to be due to the careful management of habitats at the site, which means they appeal to the rare birds and animals.

Yorkshire Water’s site manager, Richard Hampshire, said: “It’s an amazing endorsement of all our hard work that we’ve been able to tempt these rare birds and otters to the site.

“We’ve kept news of the Marsh Harriers quiet until now so that the young have had chance to hatch and grow. The Marsh Harrier is still very rare in the UK and would be at risk from egg thieves as well as from natural predators – the parents fought off a grey heron when the chicks were just two days old.

“What has been really great is that we saw the birds looking for suitable nest sites back in March and then found they’d actually made the nest right in front of one of our hides. We’ve had a fantastic view of the exchange of food from the male to the female – something they do in mid-flight – and have been able to keep a good record of all the things they’ve brought for the chicks to eat.

“This gives us an amazing window into the lives of this rare bird and is a great reward for all the staff and volunteers here.

“This summer has also seen a pair of secretive Cetti’s Warblers nesting in our reedbeds for only the second time. They don’t nest any further north, so it’s a pretty rare occurrence.”

It is hoped the Marsh Harriers will fledge around the weekend of the 20 and 21 of July when Yorkshire Water is hosting an open event to support the BBC’s Summer of Wildlife campaign. Admission is free all weekend with a number of exciting events each day including bug hunting, pond dipping, bird tours and otter walks suitable for all ages, based around the reserve’s newly-renovated visitor facilities, which feature grey water harvesting and solar heating in an attractive cedar clad building. For more information visit or the BBC Things to Do Website at  ‘

Anyone wishing to see the harriers before this event is welcome to visit during standard opening hours or even join a warden-led walk to view the harriers at 2pm every Saturday and Sunday until the 21st – which is free with standard admission.