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.

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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.

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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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Filed under Birds in East Yorkshire, Conservation volunteering., Nature in East Yorkshire, Tophill Low NR

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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Filed under Birds in East Yorkshire, Nature in East Yorkshire, Tophill Low NR, Uncategorized

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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Filed under Barmston, Birds in East Yorkshire, Hornsea Mere, Nature in East Yorkshire, Tophill Low NR

Grey Phalarope at Tophill Low NR

11/11/14 A phalarope was found by the nest box team at Tophill Low NR late Tuesday morning. RL went to check it out and not surprisingly, considering the number of recent sightings, it was a Grey. However it was at the north end of D reservoir and viewing was difficult.

Grey Phalarope Tophill Low D res 111114c RL

 Grey Phalarope-Tophill Low NR D Reservoir-RL

Didn’t need it for the site or even the year [see here] so didn’t consider it worth the trip that late in the day. Did Welton Waters instead. Again some ducks on the watersports pit but nothing on Brough Angling Complex due to dye used to suppress weed growth which also seems to discourage ducks. A pair of Marsh Harriers roosted on Brough airfield marsh, presumably the pair that I consider to have bred there this year.

14/11/14 Despite no reports between times the Grey Phalarope was seen again by Lee Johnson on Friday afternoon. However may not have been looked for since, not helped by heavy rain on Thursday. Also had a 3rd winter Caspian Gull briefly.

15/11/14 Heavy fog on Saturday meant relocating the Grey Phalarope in the morning was very difficult. It was finally found against the wall below North Hide by RL, much to the relief of a group of hopefuls in the hide and at least one regular who had missed the last one.

Also a Scaup on the reservoir.
Scaup female in fog front ctr D res Tophill Low 151114 RL
Scaup-Tophill Low NR D res-RL

16/11/14 On Sunday finally had enough time to make a trip to Tophill Low NR. Fortunately the Phalarope had already been located by the time I got there. Spend all day feeding either side of middle hide but as it stayed close to the reservoir wall was only viewable from car park or north hide and therefore distant.

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Grey Phalarope-Tophill Low NR D reservoir

Watched it from the car park hide for a while then went to check D wood feeders. Heard and saw several Willow and Marsh Tits.

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Willow Tit-Tophill Low D wood feeders 

Also had a Chiffchaff. Not a drab bird so likely a wintering bird from the near continent.

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Grey Squirrel-Tophill Low NR D wood

Checked D reservoir again from middle hide. The Phalarope wasn’t visible but had a immature drake Scaup.

Report of a Jack Snipe on South Marsh West early afternoon but didn’t show in my two visits but did have a male Marsh Harrier over. Also a large flock of Fieldfare on the river bank from South Marsh East hide.

Up to 3 Slavonian Grebes still seen regularly at Hornsea Mere from Kirkholme Point with 4 reported this morning.

Slavonian Grebe Hornsea Mere 151114a RL

Slavonian-Hornsea Mere-RL

For more from Hornsea Mere see here.

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Filed under Birds in East Yorkshire, Hornsea Mere, Tophill Low NR, Welton Waters

Crane in vain

17/10 Went to High Eske NR on Friday morning. Wildfowl number still low with only 2 Goldeneye new in since Sunday. The female present since late 2006 hasn’t been seen for a few week so must be assumed dead, but 8 years isn’t bad for a flightless bird. Hadn’t seen the Common Crane since last Thursday and no reports of it since Saturday. Walked south but no sign near Arram Grange. Walked round the back of the pit and was surprised to see the Terrapin hauled out on a dead tree in the pond in the north-west corner. An indication of how unseasonably mild it is.

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 Red-eyed Terrapin/Slider-High Eske NR 

Walking north along the river there were six Whooper Swans on Arram Carrs, presumably part of the flock from Sunday.

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Whooper Swans-Arram Carrs

After the recent rain there is a lot of water on Arram Carrs although not at 2012 level. However along with the Lapwing there were several Mallard, Wigeon, Teal and best of all 3 Pintail.

Walked as fair as Leven Carrs but still no sign of the Common Crane. If it has finally gone I wonder whether it has flew south or linked it with the flocks in the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

Went to Hornsea Mere this afternoon. Started in HVWG Hide but saw nothing of interest. Moved to Kirkholme Point where a few other birders were viewing the grebes. The Red-necked Grebe was off the jetties but distance. Only 2 Slavonian Grebes were reported today and late afternoon they were close into the south side. Again didn’t see the female Scaup. Went to the south side and got reasonably close to to Slavs from the corner of 2nd field from where the Spotted Crake was viewed a year ago.

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 Slavonian Grebes-Hornsea Mere

Heard a Water Rail but the water level is too high this year to have a chance of seeing it. Walking back met a birder looking for the Red-necked Grebe with only a pair of compact Leica bins. Managed to showed him it through my scope although even through it it was very distant.

Had a quick look at Swine Moor at dusk but again barren.

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Filed under Arram Carrs, Birds in East Yorkshire, High Eske NR, Hornsea Mere, Nature in East Yorkshire, Swinemoor

Quieter day but a new moth.

16/10 Received news via NP that a Great Grey Shrike had been photographed on Wednesday from the disused railway south of Swine so headed that way with RL this morning. Fortunately met a dog walker along Hornsea Trail who had actually seen the photograph and was able to show us exactly where it had been seen. No sign this morning though. However still nice to see good numbers of Yellowhammers and Skylarks as well as Redwing sat out rather then just in flight.

Redwing Swine 161014a RL

Redwing-Swine-RL

From there went to Hornsea NCBY, one of our migration hotspots. Plenty of Robins by the caravan park but the only obvious migrant was a Reed Warbler. Walking the ditch north of Atwick Gap RL flushed a micro moth. Got it in my bins but not immediately able to ID. Went for my camera but lost track of it. Didn’t need to worry though as we later flushed several more and managed to get a few shots good enough to ID. Looked to be one of the Udea genera and later confirmed as Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis , a common migrant particularly on the coast. New moth for me.

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Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis

I continued on the Atwick while RL drove round. Checked the fields to the north of Cliff Road where we used to get Jack Snipes before it had been “improved”. This field has always been good for Stonechat and didn’t let me down today with a nice male.

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male Stonechat-Atwick

Finished at another one of our hotspots, Atwick churchyard. On arrival it was obvious, as on the coast, that there were a lot of Goldcrest which gave hope for something better. However the only migrants found were a female Blackcap, a Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler. However the Chiffchaff looked very drab but didn’t get enough on it to confirm it as Siberian. The Willow Warbler was also quite grey suggesting a true northern migrant. Had a few fleeting glimpses of Yellow-browed Warbler-type bird but never confirmed.

Not surprisingly as elsewhere in the country the Grey Phalaropes had disappeared overnight at Hornsea Mere but the 3 Slavonian Grebes, Red-necked Grebe and a Little Gull were still off Kirkholme Point as well as a female Scaup which I’ve yet to connect with. The Velvet Scoter wasn’t reported which may suggest it wasn’t the returning bird from last winter although it did prove elusive earlier this year so my still be around. For more from Hornsea area check here.

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Filed under Atwick, Birds in East Yorkshire, Hornsea Mere, Hornsea Northcliff Boatyard, Moths, Nature in East Yorkshire, Swine