Friday, 30 July 2010

A last look...

Last chance to see the common terns before they go! Some may have gone already and all are now proficient in flight with only the odd black headed gull left.

The weekend saw green sandpiper, common sandpiper and the juvenille garaganey still about on Watton Nature Reserve. On Saturday morning we managed to spot a small group of dunlin with the RSPB wildlife Explorer group.

The highlight for many though was this hummingbird hawkmoth feeding in the car park: photo below but not quite frozen it:

Perhaps more interesting is this video I grabbed (slowed down just slightly to show the fine creature at its best)

Of the many Dragonflies about this Southern Hawker had come to a sticky end for reasons unknown in the car park - but at least it gives an interesting chance for a close up:

Updates may be thin over the next few days so keep an eye on the Hull Valley site for news - along with all our contributors on the right...

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Tigers at Tophill

Trapped at Tophill Low today were this pair of tigers - ruby tiger below:

And garden tiger too:

Below is one of the mayflys present in the trap too - possibly Ephemerella ignita?

Bird movements are still steady - a greenshank has been present at Watton early in the week. Common sandpiper has been moving round the reserve and is pictured on South Marsh East with a young common tern and pair of lapwing below:

A juvenille redshank was one of the first of the autumn through too (hopelessly over-exposed!):

Other sightings of the week included turtle doves in South Scrub, a hobby over North Marsh, and the first Dunlin on South Marsh East. Dragonfly wise we have had a few southern and brown hawkers on the wing with some ruddy darters today. Tony McLean got the barn owl over North Marsh too - see link.

The otter sighting reported last Sunday came back with a photo to Derrick Venus - have a look on the Hull Valley site here.

We also caught up with one of our foxes on the trail camera too - one of the few to apparently register the infra red glow when the camera is activated:

Sunday, 11 July 2010

The moth of all rarities

Bird wise it has been quiet - most glimpses being of fledglings with the occasional fumbled juvenille sparrowhawk attack on the feeders. A lone greenshank has been a highlight on Watton for a number of days, with occasional glimpses of a green sandpiper and the snipe on South Marsh East when flushed out - yesterday by a moorhen.

The big winged highlight of this weekend however was the discovery of this privet hawkmoth in Richard Sears's portable trap.

We are unsure at this stage whether it is a reserve first - but certainly its rarity is undisputed with the 2009 Yorkshire lepidoptera report not recording any further inland than Spurn. In addition we have seen a number of hummingbird hawkmoths today - no doubt brought here by the strong Southerly winds of recent days. Jeff Barker managed to snap this shot in the rides of South Scrub.

The butterfly and moth event turned up many species - highlights being marbled white butterflies and a lone blackneck moth on North Scrub. This capsid was on the moth trap as I set it up - after investigation I am swaying towards Leptopterna dolobrata but check out this good site for further info.

Another lone small heath was reported from O res today, and this yellow tailed moth was one of hundreds present of dozens of species in the three moth traps out.

Meanwhile southern hawker was in the ride to North Marsh today, along with a brown hawker and the first emperor dragonfly on the D woods pond. Animal wise a rare sighting of an otter was made this afternoon on South Marsh East at 3pm, and even rarer was the sighting of a water shrew foraging in the new D woods pond - the first seen on the reserve for two years. The best performing of the birds however were the kingfishers, with Tony McLean managing this excellent image on North Marsh - check out more of his work here.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Marbellous day out

The weekend saw a great count of marbled white butterflies with around 40 recorded across the site. The hot-spot appears to be on North Scrub where I managed to get these snaps.

Also recorded at the weekend was a small heath butterfly – rarely recorded at the reserve and seen by two observers.
A muggy Friday night saw a colossal moth catch with the unfortunate Doug and Martin spending around 5 hours emptying the catch (no doubt updates on Martin’s blog if he has recovered!). They were still going strong on return from the monthly wildlife walk (turning up green sandpiper, little ringed plover, juvenile terns and many orchids) where the following were a small representation of the species present – Elephant hawkmoth:

Buff arches:

Light emerald and swallowtail moths:

Burnished brass:

If you would like to see more of the catch why not some to our butterfly and moth walk this Sunday? We will be emptying two traps and undertaking a walk of the hay meadow (and hoping for good weather!) for butterflies. The event is free with normal admission and starts at 10am at the wildlife centre and will last til lunchtime. Book in advance only on the reserve number – 01377 270690, or e-mail me at

Things are also moving on the bird front increasingly. The vanguard of green sandpipers has heralded a movement, combined with some teal and lapwing (below) flocks, and the first pair of snipe on South Marsh East on Monday.

However the first striking ‘autumn migrants’ arrived today in the form of 12 stunning looking black-tailed godwit – still resplendent in breeding colours:

Otherwise the grey heron was again on North Marsh (below) along with two kingfishers yielding some great photos for one observer (hopefully to follow). Tony McLean managed some more shots of the water voles on his blog here.

Spotted flycatchers have again been seen around the Treatment Works today and this black-headed gull thought the little-ringed plover would make a tasty snack – suffice to say it moved out the way pretty fast!

Another lapwing chick has been present on South Marsh East too, where this young oystercatcher was trying to work out why it’s parent wouldn’t shelter it from the rain anymore!

Finally the results for this quarter’s BTO Business Challenge have been rounded up and are on the page above – who’s going to get species 130 for the year?!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The terning year

Things are starting to move again on the bird front now. The common terns have dispersed from their gravel island and some of the young are fully fledged and practicing hunting as below.

In a matter of days this bird will leave for the west coast of Africa – pretty incredible when its parents only arrived 2 months ago. Other birds are still following their parents about closely but are on the verge of flying too. It has been very difficult to get an accurate count due to the presence of late breeders and transient birds all apparently on the breeding island, but we believe 11 young have fledged so far

Another bird that is difficult to count is the little grebe which go to ground during breeding season, but some success has been seen in the form of this youngster on South Marsh East.

Great-crested grebe have again bred on the marsh – usually distant but the youngster can be just seen on its parents back in this shot.

The little ringed plover family are fully flying now and the two young seem to be operational pestering their parent below.

Green sandpipers like this individual have been frequenting Watton in numbers of up to 4. Over the weekend a pair of hobby also delighted onlookers, hawking dragonfly for up to 45 minutes over the water.

Not pictured but also present have been the little gulls with numbers of up to 8 now present and hopefully will reach of average later in the month of approx 120. Also on D res over the weekend was an adult Mediterranean gull which came in to roost, and in the woods one of the willow tits was seen today. Lapwing have bred in the somewhat overshadowed North Marsh but have a chick showing well from the hide with both Tony McLean and Martin Hodges getting good shots.
If you are trying to catch up with the stoats they now seem to have moved under the sewage plant near North Lagoon (at 4pm on the 1st of July at any rate). This was a known former mink den so it is positive the stoats feel it safe enough to leave their young under here. Likewise a weasel was also seen carrying its young about near East Pond.
Dragonfly numbers are picking up rapidly with common darter and many black tailed skimmers on the wing below.

One Agapanthea villosoviridescens thought the uniform of the Tweendyke’s school visit on Thursday was most favourable below.

And Maurice Gordon snapped this mayfly sp. on his glasses the other night they were so plentiful – possibly Caenis horaria?

Luckily Doug Fairweather cleared up the ID of the fly in the last post – it is Tachina fera – a parasite of caterpillar and moth larvae.