Saturday, 26 May 2012

Arctic weather

Whilst the last five days may have seen the start of summer, the highlight was probably a passing arctic skua which is quite a rarity for Tophill seen by John Prentice.  The turning weather has been of greatest benefit to the hirundines and swifts; for the last month the reservoirs have been covered with them, the only place they could find food in the form of emerging flies from the water.  Now we’ve warmed up they have all vanished.  A few of these newly emerged insects include poplar hawkmoth:

Figure of eighty:

And azure damselflies courtesy of Brian Spence:

For all the odonata news visit Martin's blog for four figure counts from today, or Paul's East Yorkshire Dragonflies site.  A few more butterflies on the wing too – orange tip by Brian:  

The bad news of the week is that the avocets have seemingly had it for this year.  After three failed nesting attempts and four eggs there have been no sightings during the past few days.  It would appear that they were a bit inexperienced and leaving their eggs unattended for long spells did them no good:

The good news however came from the sand martin colony this morning though – Maurice Dowson reporting six birds prospecting the new cliff.  They remained all day and hopefully this will be the start of more arrivals too:

Great news from Watton NR with the rafts now occupied by a pair of common terns.  Thanks to HVWG for these of the ringed tern on South Marsh East – some detail to work on:

The black headed gulls are now hatching out – including 2X18 (HVWG):

Lapwing on South Marsh East (HVWG):

Other bird news included further cuckoos around the site, dunlin, redshank, pintail and drake garganey on South Marsh East, turtle doves in South Scrub, and common sandpipers on the reservoir walls.  Tree sparrow collecting food near the wildlife centre HVWG:

More otter sightings this morning and last weekend saw East Yorkshire Bat Group visit to check the boxes.  Great news was the presence of 9 nathusius’s pipistrelles:
And also a whiskered/brandt’s bat which is uncommonly found:

HVWG also sent us this of one in a bird hide – as yet sp. unkown:

Finally on news of the possible red-tailed hawk seen around site; it looks like this is a certainty now – thanks to Alan Walkington who supplied this shot taken by Alf Bunting of a red-tailed hawk taken on the West Hill Estate in Bridlington a few weeks ago:
Apparently it has not been seen since so has likely relocated to the Tophill area.  According to Derrick Venus of the HVWG website, this or another red-tailed hawk was regularly seen a few years back.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Northern on the North?

As promised Bill Eggleton dropped us in his further excellent otter pics - both from midday last Saturday:
And also this morning when the obliging beast spent 20 minutes fishing in front of the hide (at 5:30am that is).  Remember to visit at this time you need to be a member - and also keep really quiet to respect the patience of others who are there at such an ungodly time! - well worth it though:
Plus nice roe buck:
However for me these were not the highlight - Bill has a lot of pictures on his memory card including many of long tailed tits resident around the North Marsh - including one with 'a really white head' taken last Saturday the 12th:
The bird certainly has plenty of potential for a northern race caudatus type:
It could just be another aberrance that plague us at Tophill, but the colours look a bit too well defined for an accident.  There is a hint of dark in the lores which suggests an intermediate type from Central Northern Europe - but it seems lighter than just a straight caudatus x rosaceus.  As you can see it is seemingly collecting food - suggesting it is rearing young.  So presumably we can expect plenty of hybrids to entertain us in the coming we just have to refind it!

Bill also sent us pictures of the last osprey on the weekend of the 5th / 6th May:
That is until today when this one came over D res:
Along with its band of followers:

 It dropped onto the shooting pond at Struncheonhill at 15:30.  Until 16:30 today we had also had common sandpiper and dunlin reported on a dismal day.  Finally we are going with sanderling on Tony's wader from last week based on scale against the curlew.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Two little's too late

It’s always worth carefully checking any wader at this time of year as I failed to on Wednesday.  A distant bird at the back of South Marsh East was seen only through bino’s, so picture was taken and my intention was to look at it later in case it wasn’t just a dunlin like this one at dinner time tonight:
I also had a photo from Tony McLean of a ‘tiny bird’ on Watton NR at the weekend.   After spending some time looking at this we are still not 100% sure on it.  The first image suggested a possible little stint:
But the second has been suggested as sanderling (a more likely visitor at this time):
If anyone has any reasonable suggestions on this one we would be happy to hear.  The bird is long gone so it is only these two pictures to work on.
Unfortunately by this time I had forgotten to look at my picture, which it turned out was a temminck’s stint:
So there you go – two good birds nobody saw!  However on the easterlies tonight anything is possible.  At 17:30 tonight 7 turnstones flew north over D res and kept going – an uncommon Tophill bird.  Hopefully I slightly redeemed myself with this drake scaup present on South Marsh East this afternoon – still present tonight til at least 18:00
The pintails were showing well:
But the big highlight has been little gulls – the year maxima attained today so far in the form of five:
All first summers with varying head patterns:
Though not every gull is welcome on the marsh:
The terns were demonstrating how the lamprey might have ended up in the pond:

On Wednesday Michael Flowers managed a white wagtail on the D res wall:
More details on his visit on the blog.
The other interesting bird has been the aberrant swift on Watton again – feel free to string into whatever you want…
Cardinal beetle was a nice sight in South Scrub:
On Watton Steve Brimble also captured the emerging the fox cubs:
And a cracking picture of Kestrel on the deck:
Elsewhere Dave Ware found hobby on D res today – seen a number of times through the week, marsh harrier has also been about, short eared owl still here on Wednesday, the first purring turtle dove in South Scrub on Thursday, yellow wagtails and grey partridge on the approach road, cuckoos on the southern site, garden warblers all over and avocets a permanent fixture now. 
Finally keep your eyes peeled for raptors – not just for passing honey buzzards, but a possible red-tailed hawk, with 3 independent reports all suggesting the presence of ‘a buzzard with a red tail’ around site since Tuesday.  If one it will be an escape, but interesting none the less.