Sunday, 17 July 2011

Stripes and hatching

First off after the little teaser last time here is Andy Marshall’s outstanding action shot of the peregrine on Tuesday over the Southern Marshes:

Apparently all the ducks and lapwings went up and the peregrine arrived three minutes later then spent a further few minutes chasing the inhabitants of the marshes around. The terns obviously were the biggest scrappers – but this one came a bit close in its mobbing! Luckily for it (and its chicks) it did get away though. Below is the preceding pic with the peregrine closing:

The biggest rarity by far this week has been on the moth front:

This spectacular striped hawkmoth – more commonly found in the Mediterranean and North Africa was caught in Richard Sears small 12w portable in his garden on site. A reserve first and probably a major Yorkshire record for the year (unless there has been a county influx?). The trap was one of the busiest yet and the torrential rain did not help matters. All pictures including much better posed hawkmoth shots are already on Martin’s blog here.

If you are interested in butterflies and moths you may be interested in the big butterfly count being organised by the Butterfly Conservation Trust which started yesterday and runs to the 31st. It is asking for 15min point counts and submission online to build up a UK atlas – all the details are here.

Now don’t laugh – but the next biggest rarity this week was a nuthatch! Whilst common in most of the rest of England and Wales, East Yorkshire is a renowned desert for them with only a handful of records each year. This is only the second ever at the reserve after the last four years ago – again in Richard Sears Garden. On this occasion the bird was calling in the trees around the car park with a mixed tit flock. Subsequently I obtained good views in the sycamore near the residential area. Unfortunately I lost it when I returned with camera – so you’ll have to settle for a shot from my past life at Normanby Park in Lincs in case you don’t know what one looks like (live in E Yorks and you may not!!):

Martin has now got the little gull maxima up to 37 on D res yesterday – again keep trying there are more to come yet. These two were distantly on SME earlier that aft:

With the little egret:

Also in the week has been three green sandpipers, dunlin and common sandpipers on the marshes. Kingfisher continues to show for those chosen – thanks to Barry Warrington for this one:

Barry also sent us this one of the hummingbird hawkmoth – again on the buddleias on Friday:

For those of you into photography you may be interested in this East Riding Council photo competition from their biodiversity team to capture the county’s biodiversity – click here for details.

Thanks to James from the ringing team for another pic of common frog – suggesting they have bred somewhere on site:

Still on North Marsh are the little grebes:

And also the kestrel family:

Thanks to Pete Drury for this improved pic of Rutpela maculata:

And this grey heron can be regularly encountered from the newly refurbished North Lagoon hide:

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The party of the red sea

The influx of waders continues – this wave of 15 black-tailed godwits resplendent in their red breeding plumage dropped in during a rain storm last Thursday:

Likewise lapwings continue to build with 160 present on South Marsh East and Watton this evening. Whilst stranded in the hide this little egret put on a fine show:

Three were still showing this morning on the marsh. For further tips on trying to get your exposure levels right check out Tony’s excellent recent barn owl gallery here. Hopefully our one remaining shelduck chick will make it this year – the sole survivor on South Marsh East:

One thing we would like you to look out for is little gulls. Tophill Low is ranked at number 3 in the UK for little gull numbers – after Hornsea Mere way out in front and Bewl Water in Kent according to the latest Wetland Bird Survey publication. To maintain this top spot we need to keep our mean up – so please be on the lookout for the next two months and log any good counts in the sightings hut. John Leason got us off to a great start last night with 19 birds on site, but we can get hundreds – often during a heavy rain shower when the birds pour down too on migration - particularly with an easterly like tonight.

The barn owl event was successful with sightings of a male out hunting whilst this bird was hunting the southern reserve last Thursday:

Grey heron over North Marsh:

Other birds this week have included 2 common sandpipers on the res walls, spotted flyctachers, turtle dove and the continuing kingfishers which delight and annoy hopeful photographers with their erratic showings – as per David Ware here. The little grebes have been making up for this though with nest number two very active near the hide, whilst brood one is still present:

Insects have been a source of great interest – the celebrity this week has been the humming bird hawkmoth found by Steve and Jess Stokes on Saturday providing photo ops for many in 'Margaret's garden' at the car park. I have tried – 1/3200th of a second and not fast enough:

And 1/4000th and not enough light.

But there are some great pics out there like on Martin’s site.

This ichneumon wasp was in the warden’s base this morning. I gave it up as a bad job but found this excellent site with a range of species on when attempting to ID it:

Brian Spence sent us these nice shots of the smaller wildlife – a grasshopper 'sp':

Meadow brown:

Large skipper:

And small tortoiseshell:

Incidentally there were many marbled whites on North Scrub and the second generation of brown argus were on the wing around the southern site.

North Lagoon hide is now open for business again – after much hammering from our Thursday and Sunday volunteers. Please thank them – they have done a cracking job – indeed shake their hands if they can still feel them! Marsh frogs ahoy...:

The ringing team celebrated their first catch of a non-Tophill rung bird on Sunday - a sedge warbler. It will take a while for the return to come through but when it does it will no doubt be on the blog here.

Finally the main news has been raptor fledging. Our sparrowhawks were practicing hunting around North Marsh on Saturday – mum having killed a woodpigeon. The local buzzard family have been up and about:

And this kestrel was one of three being tutored in hunting over the river and on D res today:

Not enough? – how about a close up of a juvenile peregrine falcon just missing a common tern by a foot whilst coming out of a stoop, flying upside down with its talons out? Maybe we’ll try and get a pic like that for next time…

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The gathering clouds

The warm weather may have broken today but Sunday saw the first clouded yellows on the site – part of an influx across the county and an uncommon visitor at Tophill. Jeff Barker has pictures on his Flickr page.

Butterflies have been quite abundant and, ringlet excepted, marbled whites seem to be nearly in greatest numbers this year – a spectacular count of 133 across site on Saturday. Thanks to HVWG for this pic:

A reminder too that there is still time to book on Sunday mornings butterfly and moth walk – 10am free with standard admission – 01377 270690.

This fine beast had unfortunately been clipped by a car in the reserve car park – a horntail or ‘woodwasp.’ Again a species not regularly seen:

Thanks to Andy Marshall for this shot of a Rutpela maculata - black-and-yellow longhorn in D woods:

Bird-wise things continue to progress with both greenshank and common sandpiper dropping in of late. Spotted flycatcher was still present around the water treatment works and another bird has been found near the back-to-back hides. Little gulls continue to grace us with the first adult bird going through on Sunday.

Of best note has been a party of little egrets seen around site and also down river at High Eske according to Derrick of the HVWG site with photo on Martin’s blog. A local family? It is certainly to be hoped. Other notable breeders include our barn owls – Robin Arundale of the Wolds Barn Owl Group here showing chick three of three during the annual ringing programme.

Another box locally also holds five young so things are looking up for them. Again - please remember they are a protected species - so the only people near them should be licenced like Robin. Saturday night’s owl walk is now fully booked – but we may put another date on subject to interest.

Another bounce back species has been kingfishers. These pictures were taken on the monthly reserve walk where we managed to see one at close quarters – the view cannot be that bad as this was taken using my mobile phone thru binocular eye piece!:

I am sure Mike Eggleton got better though:

A word of warning though – Mike had been there since 6:30am and it only showed at 11:00am. Another guy had given it up as a bad job after arriving at 5:30am – so lots of patience is still necessary!

Common terns are a little more showy – thanks to Alan Walkington for this one of the seven adults currently present – along with four chicks now:

His pal Mike Day also managed to get this cracking buzzard pic over the car park too:

Along with a Tophill rarity – the common frog – hunted to near extinction by grass snakes, marsh frogs, great crested newts, herons and whatever else you can think of. Records can usually be counted on one hand for a year and they appear to do much better in a garden pond!:

On the mammal front Alan Smith sent us this pic of a brown long-eared bat in one of the hides:

Finally this Phallus impudicus was in full show - I'll use its latin name and not that which HVWG did when sending it across!