A female Velvet Scoter was found by Lee Johnson on D reservoir at Tophill Low NR on 23/12/14 [see here]. Not a site tick for me having seen one in the 90’s but the first since then. First tried for it late on Christmas Eve with RL but couldn’t see it. RL caught up with it on Christmas day but was never there when I looked for it including on New Years Day [see here] when with just missed and again on the 4th when I played it too cool and did D reservoir while ML and RL were relocating back on O reservoir and it flew, probably flushed by a light aircraft, before I got there.
So when I arrived at Tophill Low NR with JH on the morning of the 11th, seeing as it hadn’t been seen for a few days, I again went to car park hide first to have a hot drink and look over D reservoir. Quickly had the drake Red-crested Pochard.
Drake Red-crested Pochard-Tophill Low NR on D res-RL
Thought it best to go south next and check O reservoir. No sign from the viewing screen so I headed for L-shaped hide while JH headed to Watton NR where Otter had been giving a good show in recent days [but not for us!]. The problem with L-shaped hide is that O reservoir is currently low so a large area of the water is hidden behind the reservoir wall and thus many birds are out of view. Therefore I didn’t have much faith as I started scanning. The birds were very flighty usually for no reason but on one occasion due to a low Common Buzzard. Maybe because of this a few more ducks became visible and amount the Tufties was a larger big billed brown diving duck. Rigging up my scope I confirmed it as the Velvet Scoter. Texted JH but he was enjoying an Otter [site tick for him] so after filling my boots went round to Watton NR where the Otter was still showing well before swimming out of view into the northern corner of the pit.
Otter-Tophill Low on Watton NR
Went back to L-shaped hide but couldn’t see the Velvet Scoter but found it again from the viewing screen providing a 2nd site tick for JH.
Female Velvet Scoter-Tophill Low NR on O res
Had received a text from RL that a mutual friend and long term Tophill Low birder had just had a large red-billed tern, consider a Caspian, with Black-headed Gulls in a field near Bielby but it had flown. Thought our best chance to get it on site was car park hide. Was a bit early for gulls so after lunch I headed north. Had several brown tits on the feeders, likely of both species, but only was certain of Marsh.
Returning to car park hide late mid afternoon the gulls were starting to arrive on D reservoir but it wasn’t a big night with under 4000 gulls but including 2 Meds.
Adult winter Mediterranean-Tophill Low NR-D res-RL
Did manage to re-find the long staying female Scaup though.
Slavonian Grebe and two Bittern seen at Hornsea Mere today. For more recent news check here.