Category Archives: Tophill Low NR

Garden Moths and Kiplingcotes.

5/6/15 An Osprey flew south over Tophill Low NR mid afternoon. Only managed a quick walk to Cottingham KGV rec early Friday evening but did get a few Nettle-taps, very late this year, as well as Common Carpet. Quail singing in fields south of Leven Canal between the village and Waterloo bridge this evening. Experiencing a small invasion of Bee Moths and am constantly removing from the house. DSCN7257

Bee Moth

7/6/15 Again on Sunday managed to empty the moth trap early although wasn’t as vital with a solitary Garden Carpet the only moth found outside the trap. However the cold keeps the moths comatose. Several hawk-moths trapped locally on Friday night so a Poplar Hawk-moth, my commonest, wasn’t a surprise. DSCN7265

Poplar Hawk

Had been very windy yesterday but was calm and cold over night and although numbers still low the variety was good. A Clouded-bordered Brindle was the first since June 2012 and only the 2nd for the garden.

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Clouded-bordered Brindle

Green Silver-lines was the 4th record, and the other year 1st was Campion, which gets recorded a few times a year. DSCN7282

Green Silver-lines

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Campion

A possible Pacific Swift flew south at Barmston at 8.35. Not seen further along the coast but almost coincides with the 2nd anniversary of the previous record. Also not seen in 5000+ Common Swifts at Hornsea Mere. Unfortunately James Spencer, whose patch it is, was ringing at Tophill Low NR where a Red Kite was seen. A Small Elephant Hawk-moth was only the 2nd for the site in the last 24 years with the previous only on the 4th. Also the young Tawny Owls were still viewable from the carpark. For more from reserve check the Tophill blog as well as James Spencer’s.  Went to Kiplingcotes with JH, RL and ML this afternoon. Started at the station. Only a single Turtle Dove has been heard so far this year and no sign for us. Also no sign of any Spotted Flycatcher to the west where I’ve had a breeding pair the previous two years.  However heard our 1st Garden Warbler for the year. A cold wind and intermittent cloud wasn’t for good insects. Only had a few butterflies including our 1st Cinnabars for the year which didn’t linger. DSCN7289

Common Blue butterfly near Kiplingcotes StnDSCN7292Green-viewed White butterfly near Kiplingcotes StnDSCN7298

Nettle tap near Kiplingcotes Stn

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Common Buzzard near Kiplingcotes Stn

DSCN7304 Moved round to Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit but the sun still didn’t come out for long and only managed a Small Heath and an unidentified Crambidae moth. Marbled Whites don’t seem to have emerged yet, in common with the lack of orchids likely due to the cold spring [so far?].DSCN7302

Small Heath-Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit

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Orange-tip near Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit

Spoonbill landed on Swan Island at Hornsea Mere mid evening. For more news check here.

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Filed under Barmston, Birds in East Yorkshire, Butterflies, Cottingham, Moths, Nature in East Yorkshire, Tophill Low NR

Flaming June? Not Yet?

3/6/15 Against type I got up early on Wednesday morning to empty the trap. A good idea as the moths are less active and I can beat the birds to them. Against, I get up early five days a week so need my sleep but also the orientation of our garden means the light is poor for photography early on. However paid off. Despite my concerns with last nights wind it was now still. The first moth was Flame Carpet, new for the year, and sitting on top of the trap in full views.

DSCN7144Flame Carpet

Others of note were a Flame Shoulder, 2nd for the year, Heart and Dart, 1st for the year but a common moth, and Waved Umber, 1st trapped this year but already had one while at work recently as well as another that failed to enter the trap, but still only the 3rd for the garden.DSCN7155

Flame Shoulder

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Waved Umber

The best though was Figure of eighty, again outside the trap, and only the 2nd for the garden.

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Figure of eighty

Started the morning with RL at Bewholme Hall. No sign of any wigeon or the drake Garganey but an Avocet was a site tick for me. The Shelduck have somehow managed to hang on to their remaining chicks {see here].

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Avocet with Shelduck chicks-Bewholme Hall

Went to Hornsea Mere Wassand Hide this afternoon.

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The new lock on Wassand Hide-means entry only possible with the code even if the hide is already occupied 

Very quiet except for good views of several Marsh Harriers. Also two Common Terns flew west.

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Common Tern-Hornsea Mere

Several damselflies behind the hide, mostly Common Blue but also my first Blue-tailed. DSCN7202

Common Blue Damselflies-Hornsea Mere

Also had a huge queen Hornet on the along the path back.

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Hornet-Hornsea Mere

MR had a male Ruff in flight at the east end so with that area covered we went to check breeding birds at Heron Lakes. With the Island submerged there were no breeding Common Terns but one flew west. Also a successful Mute Swan pair, several Canada Goose goslings, two juvenile Little Grebes and Little Ringed Plover nesting in a stupid place fortunately known to the work force.

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Little Grebes-Heron Lakes

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Little Ringed Plover-Heron Lakes
DSCN7212Mute Swan family-Heron Lakes

Also got my first Four-spotted Chaser for the year.

Moved on to Tophill Low NR. Had a quick look at D reservoir then went to check the report of a terrapin on South Lagoon.

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♂.Red-crested Pochard-Tophill Low NR on D reservoir

Still present and looked like one I had a few years back. Didn’t look like the usual Red-eared Slider. Seems to have been seen previously although information was suppressed?! Following research by RL identified as Yellow-bellied Slider.

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Yellow-bellied Slider-Tophill NR on South Lagoon.

They are very long lived with a Red-eared Slider present at least 18 years at High Eske NR and well grown when I first saw it.

Went only as far as South Marsh East where everything was much as yesterday.

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Breeding birds at Tophill Low NR

2/6/15 Went to Bewholme Hall with RL mid morning. The Drake American Wigeon was still there with the female Eurasian Wigeon [latest Merebirders blog confirms the ID]. Also had the drake Garganey although not reported yesterday. A Garganey seen in flight with Gadwall at Hornsea Mere yesterday may have been the same bird as it associates with Gadwall at Bewholme. Heavy drizzle prevented taking any pictures but Tony Dixon fared better a short while later.

American Wigeon

♂.American Wigeon-Bewholme Hall-Tony Dixon

JH had the birds late afternoon but no one reported yesterday’s Barnacle Geese or the Whooper Swan but a Bar-headed Goose was seen.

Went to Hornsea Mere with the large number of Common Swifts the only thing of note from HVWG Hide and Kirkholme Point.

Headed to Tophill Low NR. On the way had a Turtle Dove on the road at Whinnyforth Farm.

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Unusually I left my camera in the boot but managed to get it with out flushing the dove. However although close I could only shot through the wind screen so couldn’t get a usable picture. It then flew to wires. Too distant but RL got a few shots from the car.

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Turtle Dove-Whinnyforth Farm.

Then flew towards the farmyard and was lost. Funnily in the summer of 2007 a Turtle Dove was regularly with Collared Doves in a nearby field at Scurf Dyke Farm.

By the time we reached Tophill Low NR the weather had improved and the swifts had dispersed so a plan to find a rare one was off so we walked the south end instead. Informed by the bird-box crew there was a baby Tawny Owl at the entrance to the residences road. Got a few nice shots.

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Fledgling Tawny Owl

Later it or it’s sibling was perched by the owl box.

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Had the first Wall for the year by the lagoons and a second by O reservoir.

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Wall near lagoons.

Oddly the only other butterfly was a male Orange-tip by D reservoir.

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Canada Goose family on O reservoir banking.

Cuckoo calling in South Scrub.

The over summering, presumably unwell, drake Goldeneye was still on South Marsh West as well as the regular drake Red-crested Pochard although no sign of his partner, maybe finally sitting?

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Over-summering ♂.Goldeneye on South Marsh West

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♂.Red-crested Pochard-South Marsh West

Richard and his volunteers work over the recents years seems to have worked for breeding birds at least. A new ditch from the lagoons makes control of levels easier and should help with autumn passage. As expected the usual Black-headed Gull with at least six pair of Common Terns, although the latter aren’t on the raft on Watton NR yet. Also not unusual were a sitting Little Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher but a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls is a first for the reserve.

DSCN7130Little Ringed Plover-South Marsh East

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Nesting Oystercatcher and Black-headed Gull-South Marsh East

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sitting Lesser Black-backed Gull-South Marsh East

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Common Terns-South Marsh East 

Also found a first summer Little Gull. The Black-headed Gulls got up twice as though a predator was passing over. Saw nothing the first time but on the second occasion it was due to a blue kids balloon floating over!

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1st summer Little Gull with Common Gull-South Marsh East

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Dead Mole near lagoons

A male Montagu’s Harrier, likely the Blacktoft Sands RSPB bird, flew south over the Triton Inn in Brantingham this afternoon.

The moth traps out tonight but the wind doesn’t bode well for a good catch.

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Filed under Bewholme Hall, Birds in East Yorkshire, Butterflies, Hornsea Mere, Nature in East Yorkshire, Tophill Low NR

Crazy last day of May 2015

31/5/15 After a hard week at work I was happy that it looked like I’d be on my own on Sunday and with rain forecast in the morning I’d have no urge to venture out too early. Under no pressure I approached the moth trap more relaxed than often is the case. This year has so far been very poor but this morning although no great shakes compared to past years saw for the first time this year double figures. Least Black Arches was the best catch with my first ever only a week ago.

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Least Black Arches

Brimstone added some colour and with Common Swift and Mottled Pug firsts for the year.

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Brimstone Moth

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♂.Common Swift

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Mottled Pug

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Not forgetting the regular Cockchafer.

With the rain almost over by late morning I planned an early lunch then off to Tophill Low NR for some shelter incase of further rain. This planned was solidified by the finding of a female Red-necked Phalarope by a visitor on D reservoir. This also got RL to change his plans so early afternoon we were on site. No sign from car park hide so moved to middle hide where fortunately the finder, among others, had it on view. Took a while to get on but once found was fairly easily relocated although it was fairly distant in the middle of the choppy reservoir. Both of us went for our cameras where the best method was just to fire away and hope to catch it above the waves.DSCN7037

♀.Red-necked Phalarope from D reservoir middle hide

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Flew short distances, often when disturbed by a gull, but about c13.45, coinciding with the arrival of a flock of mainly Common Gulls, it flew again and this time couldn’t be relocate. Give it half an hour then went to check O reservoir. The wind made checking the reservoir unpleasant and decided against checking the rest of the site. Wasn’t seen again. Ironically one regular had visited early morning with the hope of finding a phalarope and had to make a return visit, while another long-time regular arrived too late. Fortunately with several previous records, the most recent being 12 June 2011, none of the top site listers  needed it.

For more from Tophill Low NR, including the Lesser Scaup that almost went unnoticed, check here.

Getting in late afternoon went for a walk up Priory Road with Holly. A few Lesser Black-backed Gulls in the paddocks. Started down Woods Lane but only get a short way before receiving a message that Lee Ives had found a pair of American Wigeon along with drake Garganey by Bewholme Hall pond. Thus a brisk walk back, not easy with an obese mockweller, to await RL’s  arrival.

Arrived at Bewholme Hall to have the place to ourselves but I quickly picked up the Garganey by the pond then the first winter drake American Wigeon just left of the pond quickly joined by a female Eurasian Wigeon. A drake American Wigeon flew south at Spurn Point this morning however a drake was at Saltfleetby St.Clement this afternoon just a short jump across the Humber. Unless this drake then went back north we appear to be looking at two drake only a few tens of miles apart. Again apparently paired with a Eurasian Wigeon.

Garganey right Bewholme 310515

♂.Garganey-Bewholme Hall-RL

American Wigeon Pair Bewholme 310515a

Drake American Wigeon with female Eurasian Wigeon-Bewlholme Hall.

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Also interesting that a pair were seen at Tophill Low NR 4 years almost to the day.

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pair of American Wigeon at Tophill Low NR-1/6/11

A pair of Shelduck had 6 small ducklings on the the pond. The drake was constantly chasing off the others ducks, giving good flight views of the Garganey but unfortunately not of the American Wigeon. Despite it’s aggression a Carrion Crow managed to take a chick although did get chased off when it was too late.

Actually weren’t alone as two Merebirders were out of sight at the top of the farm dive. Later found the Whooper Swans with the Canada Geese, which had recently been seen  at Grimston. Birders are asked to view only from the road and not go beyond the farm entrance.

Whooper Swan Bewholme 310515

Over summering Whooper Swan-Bewholme Hall-RL

For more recent news from Hornsea Mere [including more of the above] check here.

Also check here for sightings from Paull Holme Strays.

1/6/15 Drake American Wigeon still at Bewholme Hall today but the female considered Eurasian. Also 3 Barnacle Geese with the Canada Geese this evening. Interestingly a drake American Wigeon was again at Kilnsea. With no sign of any American Wigeons at Saltfleetby St.Clement this morning it looks likely that there are two drakes, but females probably all Eurasians.

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Filed under Bewholme Hall, Birds in East Yorkshire, Cottingham, Moths, Tophill Low NR

Volunteers day.

16/4/15 Haven’t done any volunteer conservation work at Tophill Low NR for quite a while. One of the main reasons recently is that my current work rota means I can’t make the main weekday volunteers day on Thursday. However I ‘m off work this week and with Richard scheduling work on Watton NR I agreed to join RL to work on what has been his baby for decades. No work has been done there for two years due to uncertainty over it’s status since the Environment Agency has been forced to attempt to sell off much of it’s holdings. Led to believe a sale is near although on terms that will guarantee it remains a wildlife sanctuary. Whether despite the imminent sale or as part of the terms of this sale, Richard had obtained permission to do the work necessary to maintain it’s nature reserve status.

RL and I took on the task of clearing brambles obstructing view from the public hide accessible from the footpath to the west of Watton NR. This hide gets little traffic, seemingly largely used by Tony McLean to take photographs in peace.

Watton NR public hideDSCN6387

Before.

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After.

We also chopped down any willows that had grown since our last visit to prevent the reserve becoming willow scrub. Lukas finished off our task using a petrol “brush-basher.” having already cleared other areas of the reserve.

Other work undertaken included harrowing to recreate the bare areas favoured by ground nesting birds. In the past we have used herbicide to keep these area largely free of vegetation. Before the new harrow was risked on it’s first job volunteers walked the area and picked up any larger stones. These stones will be added to the gravel areas previously created for nesting Little Ringed Plover.DSCN6382

Stone collecting.

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Pete Drury having a “harrowing” time.

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The end result. May look like a ploughed field but great for ground nesting birds.

The tern rafts were also floated out for the first time in two years.

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Richard Hampshire commanding his volunteer raft launchers.

Inevitably a large amount of dead wood was generate which as seems the current practise was burned on site. Rl and I prefer to “incorporate” our pile into the remaining scrub.

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There is always plenty of fuel for Cliff Teal’s fire.

However today wasn’t just work as we heard our first Willow Warblers walking to the job along Watton Beck as well as several Chiffchaff and Blackcap. Later had the first Sedge Warbler singing at the back of Watton NR, close to where we were working.

The pair of Black-necked Grebes were still on D reservoir, present since Saturday.

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Black-necked Grebes-Tophill Low NR-12/4/15

Although it’s been a slow spring so far, common migrant are now appearing in good numbers. Also Little Gulls are starting to be seen in small numbers at Hornsea Mere including an adult today. On the warmer days butterflies including Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and Brimstone are now on the wing. 
Anyone who follows this blog will note this is my first posting for several weeks. This is down to several reasons including lack of time and energy due to work pressures. Also I just not been inspired by what has been a fairly quiet year so far with most of the interesting stuff covered by Tophill Low and Merebirders blogs anyway. Whether this posting is just a flash in the pan or a restart we’ll just have to wait and see.







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Velvet Scoter and Otter at Tophill Low NR

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.

Red-crested Pochard Tophill Low D res 050115a RL

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.

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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.

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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.

Mediterranean Gull D res Roost Tophill Low 050115 RL

 

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.

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Little Auk at Barmston

18/11/14 Went to Hornsea Mere with RL on Tuesday morning. Started in HVWG Hide. Had 2 Slavonian Grebes in the middle of the lake west of the hide and a more distance bird close to Kirkholme Point. Went round to Kirkholme Point to get some pictures.

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 Slavonian Grebe-Hornsea Mere

Told a 4th Slavonian Grebe was again off the jetties but couldn’t locate it although we were looking into the sun. Went round to Wassand Hide but added nothing to the day list.

Went to Barmston this afternoon. Had been a good movement of Little Auk recently but the winds had gone east today and judging from the small numbers record so far today didn’t look too promising for us. The easterlies also meant it felt cold, a rare thing so far this autumn. Also the sea rough and only found 3 Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver on it. Also little moving. Started looking further afield. RL picked up a dark object bobbing off the outfall marker. We both thought Little Auk, but was it alive? RL saw it put it’s head up so at least still breathing so a year tick. Walked south to get parallel then followed it as it drifted north with tide.

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 Little Auk-Barmston

Although not 100% was still fit enough to dive ahead of the bigger waves and occasionally flapped it’s wings.

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Little Auk showing signs of life-Barmston

Followed it to the north of the caravan park where I got down onto the beach to get closer. The usual fate of flightless Little Auks is to be taken by a large gull but this one was lucky to go unnoticed while we were there at least. With the tide up there were few waders just a small mobile flock containing 4 Sanderling, 10 Ringed Plover and a Turnstone.

Went to Tophill Low NR late afternoon to do the gull roost on D reservoir. Nothing unusual but numbers were decent with:-

Black-headed Gull 14000

Common Gull 21840

Great Black-backed Gull 570

Herring Gull 310

The nest box team had seen the regular Scaup but not the Grey Phalarope. Later found a BTO worker, looking for signs of bird flu, had seen the phalarope but not logged it. Fortunately didn’t see any sickly wildfowl! Check here for more on bird flu.

19/11/14 At least one Slavonian Grebe was still at Hornsea Mere on Wednesday morning. The Grey Phalarope was at Tophill Low still in the south west corner of the D reservoir. Also the first bittern of the winter was picked up coming in to roost at Watton NR in the afternoon and couple of jays were seen. For recent news from Tophill Low NR check here. Two Little Auks were on the sea off Barmston caravan park early afternoonGrey Phalarope in fog D res Tophill Low 151114a RLGrey Phalarope-Tophill Low NR-RL

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