Tag Archives: Mediterranean Gull

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

12/5/14-Tophill Low NR

Went to Tophill Low NR with RL on Monday morning.

Started checking the trees by the houses for the Tawny Owl chicks seen over the weekend. Had an adult in flight and the Blackbirds could be heard mobbing but no sign of the chick although one was still present earlier.

Did D reservoir from car park hide. As expected at this time of year not much to look through with only a few ducks and gulls to check. Started scanning the sky for raptors. At least 3 Common Buzzards displaying. Found what I initially thought to be one of the resident pale buzzards above Lisset wind-farm, however on higher magnification it clearly wasn’t a pale rumped Common Buzzard but a ring-tail Hen Harrier. Unfortunately it was drifting north-east and was lost to view before RL could connect but while looking for it we had another raptor which was most likely a Goshawk but it too was heading north so we never confirmed the ID.

Headed to Watton NR. The pair of Garganey hadn’t been seen for a few days but we did have a Little Ringed Plover and Dunlin.

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Dunlin-Watton NRDSCN2901Little Ringed Plover-Watton NR

A few damselflies were flying around South Marsh West sump.

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immature Azure Damselfly

Had 5+ Great Crested Newts showing well in the pond by the path to the back-2-back hides.

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Great Crested Newt

Next South Marsh West. Didn’t hear the Cetti’s Warbler but had 7 Common Terns flying south and 1st summer Little Gull dropped in.

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1st summer Little Gull with Oystercatcher

A 1st summer Mediterranean Gull was in the Black-headed Gull colony on South Marsh East. Typical of it’s species it was determined to assert it’s authority over the Blackheads. Wearing a metal ring but too distant to read.

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1st summer Mediterranean Gull with Black-headed Gulls

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Little Grebe

Walking back I disturbed a moth by the old centre. Fortunately it only flew a short way and I was able to locate it on a nearby bush although to the naked eye it just look like a knot or patch of lichen.

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Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet 

The heavy rain this afternoon brought 3300 hirundines low over D reservoir consisting of 1600 Swift, 800 Sand Martin, 550 House Martin and 350 Swallow.

The Hoopoe that had entertained the crowds over the weekend at the Old Barn north of Beverley wasn’t seen this morning.

2 Avocet flew north-west at Hornsea Mere early morning.

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Kumlien’s grip back at Tophill Low NR and other late February highlights

23/2 Started Sunday morning at Paull. Just as RL and I got into the “fisherman’s car park” Nick Morgan pulled up beside us. He was short of counters for the Estuary Counts so RL volunteered to do the section covering Paull Holme Strays. In fact this just meant forwarding numbers from the the count we planned to do anyway. Positioned ourselves behind the old lighthouse near the western inlet to the the Strays which provides surprisingly good shelter from the strong wind. Our counts were:- Teal 40, Golden Plover 6600, Wigeon 682, Shelduck 234, Grey Plover 37, Lapwing 930, Oystercatcher 3,  Bar-tailed Godwit 400, Redshank 52, Dunlin 892, Ringed Plover 20, Curlew 66 and Turnstone 5. More Paull area news here.

Went to meet JH at Hornsea Mere early afternoon. Had an adult Little Gull as well as the usual Scaup and female Velvet Scoter. Again no sign of any Great White Egrets. I’m not aware of any sighting for c2 weeks.

Went to Tophill Low NR with RL late afternoon to do the gull roost on D reservoir. For a change we had Middle Hide  to ourselves. RL picked a winter adult Mediterranean Gull, probably the same bird we had on Friday.

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Adult winter Mediterranean Gull-RL

While watching it RL called out an assumed Kumlien’s Gull. Only saw it briefly before it flew south and was only able it say it was an immature Iceland-type. Fortunately it only flew a short distance and it slowly drifted back north and closer to us over the next hour and a half and we were clearly able to tell it was a 2nd winter Kumlien’s Gull -although paler than the last time I’d seen it well- and most likely the Barmston bird. Most of the regulars on site managed to see it but only from Car Park Hide so didn’t get the close views we eventually got.

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2w Kumlien’s Gull

Having been seen late last year and then again on Monday we were relieved to grip it back. It eventually flew off near dark. While watching the Kumlien’s Gull I picked up a second, near summer plumaged, Mediterranean Gull. Also again had 2 Little Egrets flying south at dusk. For more Tophill Low NR news check here.

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Little Egrets flying south over D reservoir

25/2 On Tuesday afternoon went to Welton Waters. Again very little wildfowl with only 16 Tufted Duck and 11 Goldeneye on the 2 larger pits.  Presumably due to the mild winter. With few Smew in the area and the previously regular drake not at Far Ings it’s looking unlikely one will appear this winter. However with a Long-tailed Duck at Barton-on-Humber GPs there is still the possibly of something interesting before spring. As usual ended the day overlooking Brough airfield marsh. Yet again no Short-eared Owls but did have an immature male Marsh Harrier coming in to roost. 

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Roe Deer-floodback by Brough airfield marsh

27/2 Went to Hornsea Mere with ML and RL on Thursday morning. Again had 8 Scaup, including 2 drakes, and the female Velvet Scoter, all from the HVWG hide.

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Greater Scaup

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Female Velvet Scoter-RL

Moved round to the Kirkholme Point where ML picked up the long staying Long-tailed Duck, feeding close to Swan Island. First time I’ve seen it this year but ML and RL had seen it on Saturday. For more news from Hornsea Mere check here.

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Long-tailed Duck-RL

Went to High Eske NR late afternoon. Like Welton Waters, wildfowl numbers are well down here. Still c200 Wigeon but that’s low compared to previous years. No Tufted Duck. Great Crested Grebe had increased but still only 6. 13 Goldeneye was respectable but lower than in the past. Only 6 Gadwall and even Mallard numbers were low. The breeding pair of Oystercatcher have been back since the 17th with one on the 3rd. Walked to the north of the pit to look for swans. Had seen a juvenile Whooper Swan, presumably the bird from December, with Mute Swans and a Black Swan on Arram Carr twice last week [both bird in the top image but too distant for a better shot]  but today only had a few Mute Swans. Didn’t have time to do Leven Carr but had seen a male Hen Harrier on Monday, presumably the bird seen recently at Tophill Low NR  [see link above]. Usually had several Little Egret flying towards High Eske/Pulfin NR late afternoon, with 7 on Monday, but saw none today. Previous winters Little Egrets have roosted at the south end of High Eske NR but this winter I haven’t seen any actually roosting. Had a look at Pulfin NR where a regular Barn Owl was hunting but couldn’t get close enough for a picture. A Little Egret, the only one seen tonight, flew over from the south but I couldn’t relocate it roosting nearby. Walking south from Pulfin NR kept pushing a small bird which I assumed to be a Robin but when I finally got a clear view turned out to be a Stonechat, my first here for a few years. The light was fading but I had to try for a photo. Kept moving and was usually obscured but I fired off a few shots and miraculously got one reasonably clear shot.

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Stonechat

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Filed under Birds in East Yorkshire, High Eske NR, Hornsea Mere, Nature in East Yorkshire, Paull Holme Strays, Tophill Low NR, Welton Waters

Getting the year started

2014 started much as 2013 ended with strong wind and heavy rain. With this in mind RL and I started out in Hornsea Mere hide. With the gate at Kirkholme Point shut and the weather too much for even the Merebirder diehards we had the place to ourselves. Had both Great White Egrets distantly by Kirkholme Point. Went to Barmston. The tide was well up and there was no sign of the Kumlien’s Gull on the beach and it was too foul to look for it in the fields north of the caravan park. Last reported on the 28/12/13. Had a drive round the caravan incase the recent Black Redstart was still around

Went on to Ulrome where we could sea-watch from the car. Managed 5 Common Scoters, 17 Fulmar, 1+ Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed Gull, 10 Teal, 3 Shoveler and a Red-throated Diver. The coast had suffered badly from last years tidal surge.

On a whim we decided to finished the day back at the mere hide. Just north of Hornsea we had a flock of 117 Greylag Geese with one Pink-footed Goose. Back at Hornsea Mere our decision paid off when I located the female Velvet Scoter, as usual between us and Swan Island. We also managed 4 little Gulls. Could have been more but all the small gulls roosted close in to the south side and were difficult to differentiate in the conditions. Leaving we had both Great White Egrets roosting at the bottom of the cormorant trees close to Seaton Road.

Thursday by contrast was like a spring day. Started at Welton Waters. This area had been badly effected by flooding from the Humber before Christmas. A lot of debris but no sign of any serious damage. Presumably all the fridges etc that had reportedly been floating in the pits had been removed. Wildfowl numbers were low for this time of year. Whether this was a consequence of the flooding I don’t know. However a total of 8 Little Grebes was better than recent winters. On a positive note, although we didn’t see one, an Otter had preformed well on watersports pit earlier. The first report since the herbicide treatment which seems to have put off the birds. Continued to the airfield. A section of the flood bank just west of Brough Angling Complex had been scoured out by the floods.

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Brough airfield marsh

As expected the water level was up on airfield marsh but again little wildfowl although 4 Pochard was new for the day. Scanning the marsh I saw a large brown bird flying from Brough Angling Complex. Common Buzzard and Short-eared Owl were eliminated and I realised it was a Bittern. RL get on it before it dropped into the marsh. Had a few previous records but not an easy bird anywhere.

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Some of the detritus removed from Brough airfield

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Debris on Brough foreshore

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The recent flood defence improvements appear to have saved BAE

Continuing on to the Haven I had 100+ Teal. Checked through them but the Green-winged Teal was still at North Cave Wetlands so didn’t have much optimism. Also had a female Marsh Harrier to the west.

Went on to Tophill Low NR. I had a quick look round the south end, with only a Barn Owl behind Watton NR of note, then joined RL in D reservoir middle hide. RL found an adult Mediterranean Gull. I had a frustrating egret flying south near dusk. Looked too big for a Little but couldn’t clinch it as a Great White. Disappeared over trees before anyone else could get on it. One that got away but neither species is a big deal nowadays. For yesterday on the reserve check here,

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D reservoir at dusk 

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Filed under Barmston, Birds in East Yorkshire, Nature in East Yorkshire, Tophill Low NR, Welton Waters

Great White Egret at Hornsea Mere {again!!]

8/9 Were already on the way to Hornsea Mere with Martin L and Roy when Mark Robinson rang to say he had a Great White Egret. Admittedly this our second locally this year, Martin even having had one already at the Mere. I’d also seen them in the USA this year. John and Mike Jackson were already in the hide so headed for the south side. No initial sign from 1st field but Roy counted 53 Little Gulls.

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Little Gull-6/9/13-R.Lyon

The Great White Egret flew from near the hide and I picked it up, sticking out like a sore thumb, in the top of a tree near the “cormorant trees”. Headed for the edge of 2nd fields for a closer look but all the Cormorants got up and it was no surprise that the egret had flown too. Relocated again by Roy nearby. Whilst scanning the north shore Martin pick up the juvenile Red-necked Grebe 1st seen on Friday afternoon.

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Juvenile Red-necked Grebe-6/9/13-R.Lyon

The egret flew east and we lost it behind Swan Island. Went round to Kirkholme Point to join John and Mike. Had the remaining juvenile Black Tern then the egret was picked up in flight, by another birder, before alighting on Swan Island where it rested for a few minutes below being flushed again, this time by “pleasure cruise” motor boat.

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Great White Egret in flight [above] and on Swan Island [below].

 

 

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Went to the hide for lunch where I re-found Red-necked Grebe close off 2nd field but drifting west.

I was dropped at Hornsea NCBC to walk the cliff-top to Atwick. Bird-wise only a Reed Bunting, 2 Pied Wagtails and a 25+ Linnet but had a good few Small Tortoiseshells.

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However my walk cost me a Pomarine Skua, although it had been very distant.

Next headed for Barmston but with an adult Kittiwake at Tophill Low NR, a site tick for Martin, a change of plan was made. No further sign of the Kittiwake but had an adult Mediterranean Gull on D reservoir and in Decoy Field. Up 5 were seen in total this afternoon. Did the full circuit of D reservoir, dropping in to see the recently arrived Belted Galloways grazing Hempholme Meadow.

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Belted Galloways on Hempholme Meadow.

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Volunteers “working” on Hempholme Meadow.

Also had a look on North Marsh but missed the Kingfisher this time.

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Kingfisher-North Marsh-2/9/13

John stayed in car park hide and managed 2 Hobbies but failed with the Mediterranean Gulls.

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My attempt at a Cottingham moth blog has failed this year. Will give it a go again next year but for now will go back to highlights on here. Saturday night was the first cold night since late spring and resulted in only 20 of 6 species although 2 others avoided the trap. However include Brown-spot Pinion, a 1st for me.

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Brown-spot Pinion

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

East Yorkshire in the fog

Went to Paull with Roy on Sunday morning but thick fog so headed north. Walked the set-aside between Hornsea Northcliffe Boat Club and Atwick but only had a few Meadow Pipits.

Went to Barmston this afternoon. Tide coming up and many anglers on the beach so didn’t have much faith and were about leave when the Iceland Gull appeared to come in from behind then flew south over the beach.

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First winter Iceland Gull flying over Barmston beach

Lost to view but there were a large number of gulls on the outfall pipe so walked south. One the closest gull but hampered by the fog. Had it for a few minute then it dropped out of view.

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First winter Iceland Gull at Barmston in the fog!

Walking back the fog had got so bad we wouldn’t have seen it if it was on the beach anyway.

Decided to head, inland hoping the fog would lessen. Ended up at Tophill Low NR. Only had time to year tick the Willow Tits on D woods feeders.

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Willow Tit on D woods feeders

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Grey Squirrel below D woods feeders

Martin H had an adult Mediterranean Gull in Decoy field.

Stuart Griffiths struck lucky with Otter at Welton Waters. Also had 12 Goldeneye and Little Grebe but no sign of the Smew which had returned to Far Ings.

Long-tailed Duck stlll at Hornsea Mere this afternoon.

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Filed under Nature in East Yorkshire, Welton Waters