Tag Archives: Black-necked Grebe

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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Spotted Crake at Hornsea Mere-updated version.

22/10 On Tuesday afternoon went to Hornsea Mere with RL to put another coat of wood stain on the HVWG hide.

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RL putting another coat on the HVWG hide.

The juvenile Red-breasted Merganser and Black-necked Grebe were still present but no seen from the hide but we had three Egyptian Geese  around “tree island”.

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Fungus

24/10 On Thursday the forecast was the best for nearly two week so decided to make the most of it. Started at Welton Water. The distinctive Marsh Harrier was again over the airfield marsh. A very rufous bird, from some angle looking almost like a Red Kite. The only other birds on the airfield were a few Curlew and Lapwing. This was surprising as the tide was well up. Could make out a few Avocets on the Lincolnshire shore. Again plenty of waterfowl on Brough Angling Complex but only a family party of Mute Swans on “watersports” pit. As I started to walk north up Common Lane I got news of a Spotted Crake at Hornsea Mere. Hadn’t seen one since September 2004 at Tophill Low NR and never seen one at the Mere so, although I took it easy, decided to head back to my bike. Hasn’t been a twitchable one there for thirty years although one was hear calling in the early nineties. The message had said south-east corner which should have made it opposite Kirkholme point, but also said from 2nd field. Also reported were the Long-necked Duck, Black-necked Grebe, Slavonian Grebe and Scaup. Anyway started at Kirkholme Point. Met John Brattan there. The Red-breasted Merganser was still there at bull hole so had a quick look then started scanning the muddy edges on the south shore.

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Juvenile Red-breasted Merganser

However a few birders were in 2nd field so went round to the south side. The Spotted Crake had been seen again recently but wasn’t currently on view.  Slavonian Grebe was showing well so had a look at that. Haven’t been noted previously but may have been present for a few days but overlooked.

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Slavonian Grebe

The Spotted Crake showed up again along the edge of 1st field and although very mobile, was seen well several time over the next hour by the bulk of the “Merebirder”. Also up to three Water Rails.

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“Record shot” of Spotted Crake

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Barnacle Geese

Late afternoon the edge became more shaded so to went around to the hide were I a had female Scaup but missed twenty-seven Whooper Swans flying south, there had been a few moving today.

25/10  On Friday after the weather had improved went back to Hornsea Mere with RL and JH early afternoon. Checked the Red-breasted Merganser was still off Kirkholme Point as JH hadn’t seen it then went round to the south side. The rain had reduced the muddy edges and the Spotted Crake had become very elusive so didn’t stay long. It’s seen well early evening though including by Tony Martin, who couldn’t make it at Thursday. Now six Egyptian Geese but none of the other interesting were on show.

26/10 Back again to Hornsea Mere with RL and ML. Started in the hide but saw nothing from there. Next to Kirkholme Point where an interesting female aythya-type was showing. This turn out to be a Red-crested Pochard-like hybrid,  similar to a bird seen as few weeks again there.

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Hybrid seen 23/8/13

The Red-breasted Merganser was still present. Also six Egyptian Geese were on Swan Island. They have left North Cave Wetland so may be the same birds.


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Egyptian Geese on Swan Island-Hornsea Mere 

Went round to the south side where the Spotted Crake was still showing. Not currently on show but gave those waiting the opportunity to find a male and two female-type Greater Scaup and the Long-tailed Duck.

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Male and female-type Greater Scaup with Coot. 

Didn’t see any small grebes. But Geoff Dobbs had two Slavonian Grebes late afternoon, adult and juvenile. Black-necked Grebe and four Whooper Swans had been reported this morning.

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18/10/13-Hornsea Mere

18/10 Went to Hornsea Mere on Friday morning with Andy and RL . Been quiet on the news front recently and an initial look from the hide produced nothing reportable although the Goldeneye were now in double figures and there were a good few Great Crested Grebes. We then set to work cladding the decaying front of the hide then putting a coat of paint on.

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RL painting the HVWG hide-Hornsea Mere

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“Camouflage paint” does exist-HVWG Hornsea hide. 

Back to birding and RL received news from MR regarding a Long-tailed Duck and Red-breasted Merganser. Although the latter would only be viewable from Kirkholme Point the former should be visible. Our initial scans proved negative but RL picked up the long staying Black-necked Grebe. This slowly swam towards the hide but before it came with in camera range RL scored again with the Long-tailed Duck. This one did come close in.

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Long-tailed Duck-Hornsea Mere

Having “filled our boots” and the grebe now out of sight we went round to Kirkholme Point. The Merganser was tucked in the north-east corner, opposite where the Bittern had showed well to the masses early this year.

Red-breasted Merganser

Had a quick look at Atwick churchyard but no migrants could be found.

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September 14th-Hornsea Mere and Welton Waters [+moths!]

14/9 Roy did Hornsea Mere on Saturday and had the Great White Egret at the east end. Also the Black-necked Grebe was off Kirkholme Point, and Water Rail and Snipe were in the bay. 420 Little Gulls were seen at dusk.

I went to Welton Waters late afternoon. An immature female Peregrine was hitting the 300+ Lapwing on the airfield but with out success whilst I was there. A small area of water was visible on the marsh and picked out a few returning Gadwall, Wigeon and Shoveler. Also at least 9 Grey Herons on the airfield with a few more around “watersports pit”. Good number of Gadwall now on Brough Angling Complex but viewing still very restricted. Mute Swans now numbering 35+ on “watersports pit” but only 2 pairs with young including the one that bred on Brough Angling Complex. Walking up Common Lane the only passerines were 2 Bullfinches and a Chiffchaff and even they were elusive. Walking the the eastern edge of “watersports pit” had 2 Green and a Common Sandpiper.

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Green Sandpiper by “watersports pit” Welton Waters

Water Rail showing well in the south-east corner until disturbed by a dog walker.

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Water Rail by “watersports pit” Welton Waters

Why can’t people realise if someone is using a camera it might be considerate to hang back. Walking back west a late set of water skiers caused an impressive 30+ Cormorants to depart for the river. Pity they choice the time when many birds are thinking of settling down for the night to have their fun. Only counted 3 Little Grebes in the area, a few years ago 60+ could be seen. A Little Egret flew over Brough Angling Complex this evening. An Avocet was on the mud in front of the airfield but apart from the Lapwing on the airfield, over high tide, waders were again in short supply with a small number of Curlew and a solitary Redshank. A few butterflies still on the wing but a bit docile.

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Small Tortoiseshell-Welton Waters

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Green-veined White-Welton Waters

Also on the Lepidoptera front, Saturday night was cold and not surprisingly I had my worst count of moths overnight since spring. Only 3 Light Brown Apple moths, a Rose Garden Tortrix and 4 Lesser Yellow Underwings.

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Garden Rose Tortrix

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Light Brown Apple moth.

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Lesser Yellow Underwing

15/9 On  Sunday morning the Great White Egret was still at Hornsea Mere viewable from Kirkholme Point as well as the juvenile Black-necked Grebe and 14 Little Gulls. A juvenile Rose-coloured Starling flew south from Hornsea North Cliff early morning.

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August 27-Tophill Low NR


Did Tophill Low NR on Tuesday afternoon. Started in car park hide. Had the juvenile Black-necked Grebe and an adult Common Tern but no sign of the 15 Little Gulls present in the morning.

Walked up to Hempholme Meadow. The grass had just been cut. Green Sandpiper on the nearest pool with the regular Grey Heron.

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Walked back through D wood. Mixed tit flock near North Marsh including a few Goldcrest but nothing of note from the hide in a brief viewing. Had a looked from middle hide and had better views of the Black-nacked Grebe. Checked the small brick building there and the car park and found the expected Red Underwing.

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Red Underwing

Headed south to check around O reservoir in the hope of Clouded Yellows having missed them on the 16th and 20th. Managed up to 4 but like Monday at Brough they were so mobile even Usain Bolt couldn’t keep up with them.

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Common Blue

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Red Admiral

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Also still plenty of Painted Ladies and Silver Y’s.

Checked South Marsh West from  L-shaped hide. Richard has been dropping the levels, partly to put water in the drained South Marsh East. Plenty of mud showing including a good “crake edge” under the river bank reeds. Two Greenshank and 3 Dunlin present. Went to Watton NR. Viewing difficult in the low evening sun and no sign of the Ruff but could have been hidden among the Lapwings.

Went back to South Marsh West and two juvenile Curlew Sandpipers and a Little Ringed Plover had joined the Dunlin. Also a Common Sandpiper viewable from back-to-back hide.

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The two juvenile Black Terns and juvenile Black -necked Grebe were still at Hornsea Mere, again joined by a third Black Tern  and 400+ Little Gulls in the evening.

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Juvenile Black tern-Roy Lyon-25/8/13

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Adult +juvenile Common Tern

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Little Gulls

But no news of Whinchats.

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Whinchat-Roy Lyon-25/8/13 

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11th August-Tophill Low NR

Went to Tophill Low NR with John on Sunday morning. One of the two juvenile Black-necked Grebes present for a week now, was still on D res.

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Juvenile Black-necked Grebes-7 August 2013

Walked up to Hempholme Meadow where we witnessed a female Marsh Harrier carrying a decent size rabbit over Struncheon Hill pond to two juveniles on the east side of the River Hull. Whether this is the fledged family from South Marsh East or an additional brood is up for debate but they have been in the area for a least a week.

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Juvenile Marsh Harrier on South Marsh West-20 July 2013 

Had a brief view of a Kingfisher on North Marsh but missed a mother Water Vole with a young in tour.

This afternoon did the some end and had a Ruff on Watton NR then Greenshank and Green Sandpiper on South Marsh West. Volunteers were working to create wader areas on South Marsh East.

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Greenshank

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Green Sandpiper

Good day for butterflies with at least 4 Painted Ladies reported.

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Comma

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Wall Brown

Also a few moths.

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Dingy Footman

Good number of hawker dragonflies on the wing.

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Southern Hawker

Swinemoor continues to dry out with no sign of any serious rain in the near future but some decent pools still remain where Roy and I had Little Egret, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank and Redshank on Wednesday.

Trapped a Star-wort moth at home in Cottingham overnight. Previous records in Yorkshire have been confined Spurn Point.

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Purple Hairstreak

2/8 Found a small colony of Purple Hairstreaks in Cottingham off Priory Road in 2011. Never managed to confirmed it’s continued existence in last years cold summer however on Friday evening managed at least one butterfly along a few other species.

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Purple Hairstreak-Cottingham

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Comma

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Speckled Wood

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Gatekeeper

After reporting this to Roy we decided to check out Tophill Low NR. Had seen them there a few times over the years but, probably due to lack of checking, there had been no reports in recent years. However we managed 7 with in a few minutes of searching so the potential total is likely to  be pretty high.

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Purple Hairstreak-Tophill Low NR

Didn’t manage any birding but 2 Spotted Redshanks had been seen on North Marsh early morning, a juvenile Black-necked Grebe on D res and an Osprey over.

Also 3 Wood Sandpipers on Swinemoor [I had 2 on Tuesday as well as 6 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Little Ringed Plovers, Ruff and 4 Little Egrets].

On the the way home picked up an injured Common Buzzard which had probably been feeding on a road kill Rabbit when hit itself. Was very subdued with one obviously damaged wing. Left in the care of Swanbridge Vets, Swanland.

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Injured Common Buzzard

3/8 Roy visited Paull Holme Strays on Saturday counting 12 Small Red-eyed Damselflies on the car park pond.
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Pair of Small Red-eyed Damselflies-Paull Holme Strays

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Birds seen were an Avocet, a Grey Plover, 17 Black-tailed Godwit, 28 Ringed Plover, 400 Golden Plover, c100 Dunlin, and only 4 Shelduck.

2 Black-necked Grebe were at Tophill Low NR on D res this afternoon.

[Editorial note:- due to the light evenings and good weather I’ve found it hard to find time to blog. I’ll try and do one occasionally so don’t think I’ve given up! I had a week in New Yorks in June and although not a birding trip I did take a few pictures. Currently posting these on another blog [which I hope my regular followers are keeping up with] with so far birds from Central Park and Coney Island.]

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