Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The ghost of Tophill

Nothing too scary! - rather this nice ghost moth in the moth trap on saturday:

Also present was this white ermine:

And a scorpion fly which landed on top:

A bit more ghostly were these images on the trail camera - the fox cub wandering around and a chance shot of tawny owl - bit difficult to tell if it got anything. The adult fox was reported hunting ducks with a stoat on North Pond at the weekend.

The spotted flyctachers have been seen again below - so hopefully they are attempting a new nest.

Bird wise elsewhere it is the usual candidates - the two first summer little gulls (below), red crested pochard and two black swans all in attendance, with up to two green sandpipers being seen at Watton over the last few days.

There are some great orchids around site at present including this bee:

Common spotted (with probably some marsh in it):

Pyramidal orchid:

And common twayblade:

This interesting fly of the diptera order was on a hogweed yesterday - have yet to find its name:

Finally regular Tony McLean has been coming to the reserve for some time and has been getting some great shots of the Reserve - so have a look here - link up on the right too - for an taster of the quality of Tony's work see this excellent shot of the newly returned kingfishers below:

Friday, 18 June 2010

North Marsh magic

The water voles pictured here are often good entertainment - photographed today harvesting reed grass from the ditch where they live in front of the hide.

However for three consecutive days we have had kingfishers actively hunting the marsh in front of the hide - the first regular activity since December 18th. My previous post saying how thin on the ground they are has obviously been read. Viewing is welcome but please be considerate for the birds and other observers - quietness when approaching the hide and careful opening of shutters is essential to hopefully hang on to the birds here on a more permanent basis.

Now is a great time for orchids with 4 species readily visible around the reserve - more on that later. Likewise a sunny day is still bringing out the broad bodied chasers and also the first common darters around the D woods pond.

Beyond that birdwise a couple of little gulls on South Marsh East and the black swans on D res have been the best. Hobby was frequenting Watton NR and the access road today, and cuckoo has been heard around site often. Disturbingly though we had a green sandpiper yesterday on Watton NR - too late for breeding season - meaning the 'autumn passage' has started!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Babyfaced killers

The stoats seen dragging prey into the wildlife centre have now emerged with the youngsters left in the 'creche' - making poor attempts at jumping on chaffinches under the feeders.

Highlights of the week bird wise have been up to two 1st summer little gulls still around South Marsh East and the red crested pochard still present. Best birds were probably two ruddy shelduck present on Watton NR on Sunday am which flew off SW. This pair of of birds has been reported moving south via Blacktoft and Notts so maybe the 'genuine article' as opposed to ferals. Unfortunately our spotted flycatchers did not return to their exposed nest after the heavy rain. Hopefully they will find a new spot in the reserve. Marsh harrier is still being seen regularly around site and peregrine falcon gave outstanding views over South Scrub on Saturday. This grey heron is often hunting outside North Marsh at present and reportedly caught a bird or vole on Friday (taken through glass).

Great spotted woodpecker has been on the feeders again here but with no young yet.

Most of the attention is on insects at present - a taster includes this fine broad bodied chaser on the new D woods pond

And this four spotted chaser posing too

This hoverfly volucella bombylans was demonstrating its bee mimic abilities.

This fine froghopper Cercopis vulnerata was at the southern site

And this common green capsid was on my arm at the centre.

These ichneumon flys Rhyssa persuasoria were present parasitising presumably horntail larvae under the decaying timber of the D woodlands using their long ovipositor. Martin Hodges got chance to return for some better images here.

Who can resist some more grass snakes...

Finally thanks to visitor Alan Walkington who sounds to have enjoyed his visit and sent us these shots of our terns and a roe deer - thanks again.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Middle of winter in mid summer

The terrible weather having defeated my efforts around the garden at home today has inspired me to collate some of the best video bits captured around the Reserve this winter from January to March - I will also stick it on the 'what's about' page above so it is there for reference in future. Hopefully will get a spring/summer section up later in the year.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Join the cub

Things have started to steady off now migration wise and dragonflies and damselflies are all the rage - one four spotted chaser pic here but rather than double up have a look at Martin's blog for a full round up of the ever expanding array of invertebrate life on the reserve. Part of the marathon moth trap emptying revealed this eyed hawkmoth with alder moth last recorded in 1996 being the best.

There is still some bird action - the terns seen apparently displaying in the last post have come good with a reported 6 pairs sitting along with 6 chicks now on show. We can happily reveal that the little ringed plovers have bred on site and on saturday the chicks were deemed sufficiently large by their parents to come down to the water's edge for the first time. There are many fledglings now about with this young blue tit seen the other day and three buzzards over north marsh perhaps indicating success too.

Annual breeding bird survey work on Sunday also turned up a feeding grey heron, reed bunting, treecreeper and garden warbler. A put-out hobby was sat waiting out the drizzle on the pylons at Watton, and the red-crested pochard has been elusive but present all week on South Marsh East along with occasional single little gulls and turtle doves calling in South Scrub and on the wires at Watton. Many requests to see kingfishers on the reserve probably reflect the current status of the bird - we only have occasional glimpses now with the best bet being to stake out Barmston Drain. They certainly have nothing like the presence they had before December and indeed the word is they are scarce in the county as a whole after the harsh winter.

Animal wise a grass snake was managed on just about every hay pile round O res on Friday morning, the water voles on North Marsh have been seen regularly under the hide. This hedgehog was in the car park on Saturday.

At least two stoat families are on site with the centre family still dragging prey around the car park and on O res around South Marsh West another family was seen moving their young about to under the 'L' shaped hide. An otter spraint was found on the Southern site showing there is still some otter activity after the two unfortunate deaths in illegal eel nets 3 miles down river last week. Finally an unexpected find was this fox family on site caught quite by accident on our trail camera this week - hopefully we will keep you updated with footage now we know they are there (and no there are no 'black' ones a la springwatch!)

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Colonial life

Monday was quiet with the wet weather, but the male red-crested pochard was present, and was again on South Marsh East today pictured above shouting at a mallard, although not the flashiest individual we have seen. Nearby were the two little ringed plover pictured, cuckoo calling, and plenty of black-headed gull chicks, but nice to see was the very first tern chick, fish are being returned regularly to other expectant incubators as pictured (pretty sure it is a perch) and another pair of terns seemed to be displaying to each other above. The two oystercatcher chicks on South Marsh East are well developed now, whereas the South Marsh West pair have only just hatched. Keeping out the sun on the hide was this nice brimstone moth, and basking in it was another grass snake at East Pond and this hybrid marsh orchid – most of our orchids are a mix of marsh and common spotted – usually resulting in ‘hybrid vigour’ giving much enlarged flowering stems as with this individual. A stoat was seen carrying a baby rat off across the car park to which it is most welcome, and the kestrel above was also seen eating what appears to be an unfortunate long-tailed tit, whilst a common buzzard was on the look out over north lagoon. Finally the mistle thrushes photographed in the last posting have presumably fledged – no sign of them about today so given their size on Monday it is presumed they have left rather than been predated.