Monday, 13 February 2017

Mr Grey

It may have been 50 shades of white on the reservoir in the last week but it was grey that caused excitement today - Maurice Dowson:
Maurice and Roy Vincent picked up this site rarity great grey shrike today in hawthorns at the top of the D reservoir and managed a few great record shots when it took a brief flight north before heading south over the res and out of sight - Roy:
A fine site tick for many of our latter-day listers.  The last was in 2003 - again on Barmston Drain and the last truly visible one in 1993 down at Watton again on the drain.  This bird is the 6th since about 1970 so perhaps decreasing in sighting frequency.  If the current trend continues there'll be another in about 40 years!.  Despite a whole site search it couldn't be found today - here's hoping it'll turn up again in the next few days. Maurice:
So this fine bird had just about won out on the mono colour stakes putting the legions of glaucous gulls into the shade.  Glaucous gulls have continued with yet another bird present last night making around 10 birds - nearly as many as have been seen all time.  But a long overdue Iceland gull in the fading light was a welcome addition to the year list.  As ever for a fuller write up of all the gull action visit Martin's blog.  Long-tailed duck showing well by him here:
Goldeneyes have been getting amorous in the frozen weather - Brian Colley:
And in addition to a female goosander and three pintail on Watton has been a second smew - redhead of course!- Francis Bell:
And Roy Lyon:
Regardless of the winter wonders shelduck are building up rapidly.  Freshly returned from Germany they peaked at 14 on Wednesday on South Marsh East.  We're still sorting a few of the islands in coming days ready for the breeding season so please excuse a little disturbance on these in the next couple of weeks - Brian Colley:
30 blackbirds at Hempholme on Sunday - Brian:
And elsewhere brambling, siskin, redpoll and willow tit all on the feeders. 
Finally a note on timescales for the new hide - currently we're looking at mid March for opening the paths as there is still considerable tree work we're waiting on contractors to complete before we can do so.  In the meantime we'll be rounding up those whom have expressed an interest in helping out with the new viewing gallery.  We're looking for enthusiastic and friendly volunteers to show people wildlife on the reservoirs, feeders and remote cameras.  Tea included!  If you're interested let me know as we'll be talking volunteers through this new opportunity soon.   Thanks to those whom have already contacted me - I'll be in touch soon...
Otherwise spring beckons - 4 weeks til the first little-ringed plover and chiffchaff!

Monday, 6 February 2017

The beige brigade

Things seem to be going from strength to strength on the reserve into February.  Perhaps most notable has been the ramp up in gull numbers in the last month, and particularly glaucous gulls in the strongest ever presence in the roost with 6 possibly 7 so far - the highest figure we can find reference to.  Martin Hodges:
Caspian gulls have also put in a performance, but mediterranean gulls have finally materialised in good numbers.  A strange year as there were practically no records prior to the new year, and now they all seem to be arriving in a glut - up to six present on some nights.  For more info and pictures such as below check out Martin's page:
Geese also have come good latterly with the highlight being 6 tundra bean geese on the 4th - Martin:
Present amongst a wider flock of 32 Russian white fronted geese amongst the greylags - still present today:

It's been great to have the smew back again regularly on Watton NR - Brian Colley:
And Mal Jones:
Goosander has been present on a few occasions at Watton, and the, or a long tailed duck was back on D reservoir on the 5th after an absence.  Moving up the scale of piscivores was this great crested grebe consuming a pike by Darren Smith:
But topped by this cormorant achieving the impossible - Brian Colley:
And at the top of the tree the otter still showing well on North Marsh - Brian:
Roe deer developing new antlers ready for their spring rut - Tony Robinson:
Some great footage of both these and other Tophill wildlife on the trail cameras - compiled by Hull Uni student Nadine Grey:

Kingfisher by Mal Jones:
Many thanks to Roy and Maurice who volunteered for more volunteering on North Marsh this week - prepping the otter holt channel and replacing perches for the 2017 season...
Work still continuing on the new hide and associated paths - volunteers working busily on the new platform:
With this character observing proceedings:
Likely a horse leech from a quick inspection.
However the northern end of the site is a good place to be:
Not just the barn owls - but perhaps up to three short eared owls have been seen in recent days - great to have them back:
And Roy Vincent:
Otherwise a few bits of passerine interest - brambling around the new building feeders, lesser redpoll in the woods and siskins in the car park.