Tag Archives: Otter

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

Common Crane on Leven Carrs

Early evening on the Sunday 22th I got a message from Richard Jennings that he’d just had a Common Crane fly from Leven Carrs across the R.Hull towards Arram. Had missed two over nearby High Eske NR a few years back because I was looking for waders at the time instead of the sky I judged it too late to try tonight particularly as Richard inferred it had flown out of view. A Common Crane over Watton NR at Tophill Low NR recently is likely the seem bird [see here]. I got up to High Eske after work on Monday. At High Eske NR the water level was low with the summer islands showing. On them were an adult Mediterranean Gull and Little Egret but no waders. Didn’t exactly rush to Leven Carrs as there were many Six-spot Burnets on the wing, my 1st this year, so lingered to get pictures. DSCN3666

Six-spot Burnet-High Eske NR

Also several Black-tailed Skimmers but couldn’t get one settled long enough for a capture, not helped by an uncontrolled dog. Finally made it to Leven Canal and scanned the carr from the riverbank. DSCN3811

Leven Carrs with Routh wind-farm in background

Bridget Jennings joined me shortly. She’d actually seen the Crane in flight on Friday but didn’t know what it was at the time. Also told me that it had been seen and photographed later on Sunday. Gave it c2 hours with out luck but then had it set off back. Got about half way back went I got a message from Richard that he’d seen the Crane again. Phoned him back and got directions. It was feeding on a cut area of grass by the first drain reached on walking the canal bank from the river. DSCN3679

First summer Common Crane-Leven Carrs

Close enough to get a few record shoots but then had to race back to High Eske Farm to avoid a repeat of the conflict I had in 2012 over leaving too late. However was delayed by my 1st Marbled Whites of the year, not an annual sighting at High Eske NR, then an obliging Brown Hare by the track to the farm. DSCN3838

Marbled White

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Brown Hare-High Eske Farm

Went back on Wednesday afternoon with the hope of a more relaxed afternoon with more time for a decent picture. However there was a lot plant on the carrs and although still present the Crane was sulking in tall vegetation.

DSCN3700 Sulking Common Crane-Leven Carrs

Didn’t see it worth hanging around until the work finished for the day so had a proper look around High Eske NR. The level was up but a Little Egret was again present as well as 6 Oystercatchers. Also found a Common Wave moth [for more moths check my Cottingham Moth Blog]. DSCN3713

Common Wave

Checked Swinemoor later but nothing of note. For regular news from Swinemoor check Beverley Birding blog. With no further news on the Crane I was back again on Saturday afternoon. After an horrific visit 3 weeks back when High Eske was more like a boating lake than nature reserve I had sworn to avoid the area on the weekend but today hoped the weather would put the undesirable off. Before I even started scanning I saw the Crane in flight as well a female Marsh Harrier . Don’t think I flushed the Crane, more likely due to mobbing by Carrion Crows, as was a long way from it. Appeared to drop by the wood to the north and quickly relocated it there feeding by a ditch. DSCN3812 Leven Carrs showing the area the Common Crane was today

Was again distant but this time I had more time to take enough shots to hope at least one was an improvement on Monday. DSCN3768 Common Crane-Leven Carrs

While watching the Crane a young Red Fox came out of cover and linger fairly close on the cut area. DSCN3788 Young Red Fox-Leven Carrs

Started raining and this convinced me not to attempt what would have been a long walk to get a bit closer. Walking back saw the new drain that the machinery seen on Monday had created. With the scrape created in early 2012, that had been good for passage waders, now overgrown this might provide a new wader magnet. DSCN3813

New excavation on Leven Carrs

Getting back to High Eske I had an Otter in the river. Although not great shots I managed better than I had previously. DSCN3815

Otter-R.Hull at High Eske NR

Despite working the area for over 25 years I’ve only seen Otter a handful of time.

Had time for a quick look round. Little of note bird wise but had a nice long-horned beetle. DSCN3832 Strangalia quadrifasciata DSCN3824

Singing Chiffchaff-High Eske NR

Despite disturbance and varying water levels 3 pairs of Great Crested Grebes were nesting on Saturday however on Tuesday 2 July all had gone although a pair were attempting to re-nest by the main island. DSCN3827

Nesting Great Crested Grebes-High Eske NR.

Common Terns are seen regularly feeding over the reserve, where fish fry are often seen in large schools, and I’ve seen them flying over Leven Carrs carrying small fish which are likely breeding birds taking a short cut to Tophill Low NR. For new from Tophill Low NR check the blog.

The  Crane was still present evening of 2nd July although elusive due to disturbance from heavy plant. On the bright side  this work is to turn the carrs into fenland, the sort of habitat that might attract breeding Common Cranes in future.

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Filed under Birds in East Yorkshire, Butterflies, High Eske NR, Moths, Nature in East Yorkshire, Swinemoor

April 7 at Tophill Low NR

7/4 Went to Tophill Low NR with Roy on Sunday morning. Started in D reservoir car park hide. No sign of the Black-necked or any Goosander.

The Red-necked Grebe was still on O reservoir.

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Red-necked Grebe-Tophill Low NR

The Pink-footed Goose and a pair of Little Ringed Plover were still on Watton NR.

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Pink-footed Goose-Watton NR

A few Chiffchaffs now singing.

There were a few Redwing in the works compound possibly part of the big movement on the coast.

Had a Peacock butterfly from South Marsh East no.2 hide.

Checked the D wood feeders this afternoon. At least 2 Willow Tits and a Marsh Tit but no sign of the Nuthatch reported earlier. Also a Blackcap sang briefly.

2 Otters had been seen on North Marsh late morning. Gave it a few minutes but no repeat performance.

For more from Tophill Low NR check here.

Did Swinemoor from Weel Road early evening. Much as yesterday but the pair of Pintail were back and finally caught up with a pair of Little Ringed Plover.

Kumlien’s Gull still at Barmston.

For more sightings in the Hull Valley check here.

Despite the cold Africa Gomez had some insect sightings today.

Weather like, a bit of a false promises day. Started out wearing coat but no hat, by lunchtime had got rid of the coat, however by early evening at Swinemoor it was coat and hat. Forecast is currently colder again first half then possibly milder but with more chance of rain second half. We’ll see.

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April 7, 2013 · 6:37 pm

“Colder than a well digger’s ass”

Having spent 5 days in Northern Spain where although not hot was better than at home it was no surprise to get home and find winter was returning again. Intend blogging the trip soon but as I currently can’t upload my pictures will have to put this on hold for now. For the same reason I’ll have to depend on friend’s pictures for local stuff for now. Don’t seem to have missed much with the only news I’m currently aware of is that the Ring-necked Duck seems to have taken up residence at Normandy Barracks although has also been seen on a pond at New Arram and the “Kumlien’s” Gull is still on Barmston beach.

5/5 Tuesday, my first day back at work, started foggy but had cleared by early afternoon and as this might be the last mild day for a while thought I better head for High Eske in case the Ring-necked Duck dropped in. Walked round the borrow pit and counted c1000 Wigeon spread between High Eske NR and Pulfin NR. Also a drake Pintail on both sites. Heading north along the river there was no obvious sign of any swans but had 9 Little Egrets. Had a look over Leven Carrs for raptors and had 5 Pintail on the scrape. Unfortunately the fog rolled in again putting an early end to the day.

6/3 Had a sub-adult Gannet over Southwood Road, Cottingham on Wednesday morning. Robert Jaques also had one [or the same?] over Hull University.

7/3 Had my first moth of the year Thursday morning when I found a Hebrew Character on a door on Southwood Road, Cottingham. Unfortunately the day got colder and didn’t bother putting the trap out.

8/3 Went to Welton Waters with Roy and Martin L midday on Friday. Had a drake Smew again on Brough Angling Complex and a distant Otter on “watersports pit”.

Went to Tophill Low NR later but because of the weather only did D reservoir. Had 3 drake and a redhead Goosander. The redhead Smew had be seen recently on Watton NR. More recent news here and here.

10/3 Went to Hornsea Mere with Roy on Sunday morning. Started in the hide where Roy found a probable 2nd winter Caspian Gull on Swan Island [also seen independently by Mark Robinson] Went round to Kirkholme point. Had a Water Rail again with Moorhen in the wet field by the entrance but couldn’t find the Bittern. However found 2 ringed Black-headed Gulls.

Danish-ringed Black-headed Gull Hornsea Mere 100313a Leo

Ringed Black-headed Gull-Hornsea Mere-R.Lyon

For more recent news check here.

Went to look for geese in the Skipsea area. None at Skirlington but the usual flock of feral birds was at The Lakes at Far Grange. Also 4 “pinkfeet” including 2 larger looking birds. Kept them under observation and eventually they hauled out on the far bank.  One had bright orange legs and it’s identification as a Tundra Bean Goose was confirmed when it flew low with a Pink-footed Goose showing a darker upperwing.

Bean Goose front with Pink-foot Skipsea Lakes 100313 Leo

Tundra Bean Goose [front] and Pink-footed Goose-The Lakes at Far Grange-R.Lyon

Pink-foot left with Bean Goose right in Flight Skipsea Lakes 100313 Leo

Tundra Bean Goose [right] and Pink-footed Goose-The Lakes at Far Grange-R.Lyon

Also did Bewholme Hall, Leven bypass and Heron Lakes before for ending up at Tophill Low NR. Again only had a look over D reservoir. 8 Goosander, 4 drakes and 4 redhead, and a male Scaup had been seen earlier. More on here.

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Filed under Birds in East Yorkshire, High Eske NR, Moths, Nature in East Yorkshire, Welton Waters

Ring-necked Duck back at High Eske NR

18/2 Only managed to get out late afternoon for a walk in Cottingham along Priory Road but had a nice surprise in the form of a immature male Peregrine over fields between Priory Road and Wood Lane heading for Haltemprice Farm.

19/2 A Common Crane flew south over Hornsea Mere late Tuesday morning, later seen at Kilnsea and presumably the bird seen at Filey on Monday. Also Great Northern Diver [presumably the bird seen over the weekend at Tophill Low NR], Black-necked Grebe and 4 Eurasian White-fronted Geese.

Great Northern Horns Mere 190213 Leo

Great Northern Diver-Hornsea Mere-R.Lyon

The Bittern was still in the northeast reeds from Kirkholme Point and a pair of Oystercatcher on the point.

Bittern Horns Mere 190213 Leo

Bittern-Hornsea Mere-R.Lyon

Last decent day for a while so made the effort to get out to High Eske NR this afternoon. Had a Pink-footed Goose with the Greylag Geese. It flushed before the others and although circling a few times didn’t return so had good credentials to not be one of the Pinks that rang around all year. With the floods receding fast the wildfowl numbers were up. Had plenty of time so did a count. Great Crested Grebe 2, Little Grebe, Greylag Goose 200, Wigeon 270, Mallard 140, Redshank 48, Gadwall 46, Shoveler, Goldeneye 11, Tufted Duck 19, Pochard 10 and Coot 6.

Wasn’t surprised to come across the first winter drake Ring-necked Duck.

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Ring-necked Duck and Wigeon-High Eske NR.

With the lower water levels did the full circuit for the first time since November. 100+ Teal on Pulfin NR.

Continued north. The 8 Bewick’s Swan and 12 Whooper Swans were showing well on Arram Carrs opposite Leven Carrs.

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Bewick’s and Whooper Swan-Arram Carrs

Checked the latter for raptors but only had the regular female Marsh Harrier flying south.

Back at the NR hung around till late hoping for Little Egrets coming in to roost but only had one in the trees at the south end which flew north and dropped out of sight by the “terrapin pool” where it probably joined others.

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Little Egret in High Eske NR pre-roost.

Had seen 4 earlier and another birder had seen up to 8 over Molescroft Carrs.

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air-sea rescue flushing High Eske NR!

“Cuckoo Jack” was at Welton Waters and had 2 Otters, one giving prolonged but quite distant views. Also Smew and Short Eared Owl.

Check Dave Tucker’s blog for local Roe Deer and flowers.

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Smew! Getting ‘otter!

14/2 After yesterday’s cold and snow the start of a milder period on Thursday was welcome. Thus with the longer days and a lighter week at work it gave me the chance to get out on the bike for the first time this year. Decided to do Welton Waters to check for the 2 drake Smew as I hadn’t had any news since Eric Clubley’s visit nearly 2 weeks back. I’ll not bore my regular viewers but anyone interested in the rigmaroles of getting out on a bike after a winter lay up can check here. Anyway probably due to the milder weather than Boxing day it wasn’t as bad [also suspect overdid the layers!].

Started at Myrtle Way in Brough so I could walked across the airfield. 100+ Curlew there as well as similar number of Lapwing there and later seen with a good number of Golden Plover behind the pit at Welton Waters. However only a Coot was visible on the marsh. Walking along the flood bank saw a mass of ducks flying from Brough Angling Complex [BAC]. Fortunately they landed on on the river and I was able to count c400 Wigeon, c50 Gadwall and 12 Goldeneye but no Smew among them. The disturbance was likely due to noise from the the machinery excavating the new pit to the north. Still a good number of duck on BAC and with birds quickly returning found it difficult to get a better count however was able to add drake  Smew, Coot and Tufted Duck to the list. Also had a drake Smew on watersports pit but this fly over Common Lane a few minutes later towards BAC where I could again only find one.

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watersports pit-Welton Waters-Ralph Dawson

Walked to the back of the pits to check for anything hiding in the north west section of watersports pit. Common Lane at the north end of BAC was a mess due to the excavation machinery.

fungi-11 copyfungus-Welton Waters-Ralph Dawson

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Cormorant-Welton Waters-Ralph Dawson

Walking back south had another quick look at the main section of watersports pit and had a very close Otter, unfortunately I’d forgotten my camera! Had another good look at BAC from the riverbank and finally got 2 drake Smew. Success! Had timed it so as to be back at the airfield for dusk but again no Short-eared Owls.

Black-necked Grebe again at Hornsea Mere off Swan Island.

Click here for an update from Tophill Low NR.

15/2 Friday morning the Bittern was again in the north east corner of Hornsea Mere from Kirkholme Point. Acting on this information Roy and Martin L had it this afternoon, a tick for Martin. Water Rails were still showing by the gate.

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Greater Bittern-Hornsea Mere-M.Lonsdale.

Kumlien’s Gull again on Barmston beach this morning as well as 6 Snow Buntings.

If you come across any wintering Chiffchaffs this article is worth a read.

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Ring-necked Duck at Tophill Low NR

3/2 Had a late start on Sunday so had a chance to have a serious go at my Garden Bird Watch. This paid off with the first Blackcap, a male, for the garden in several years followed by a male House Sparrow. House Sparrow has a strange distribution in Cottingham, in some area like St.Margaret’s Avenue area where I work they are pretty common, however it’s a rare bird in the garden despite a few regularly in hedges only a few hundreds yards up the road.

Just as Roy as about to pick me up late morning to go to Welton Waters, learned that Tony Disley whilst running the In Focus event at Tophill Low NR had found the missing first winter male Ring-necked Duck on D reservoir. Last record for the site was April 2005. Where it’s been for the last 2 weeks is anyone’s guess. Anyway within an hour we were watching it from car park hide. As they do it contented itself by drifting around fast asleep.

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Ring-necked Duck-Tophill Low NR

While waiting for it to liven up we check out the 3 male “Scaup’. Eventually came to the conclusion that we had a good one, a close one [more like a giant Lesser Scaup] and a total “no way”.  Also 2 cracking male Pintails. Having sat for 2 hours decided to have a stroll. Started in the wildlife centre. Whilst scanning the meadow for Woodcock we saw 2 flying from the right [possibly flushed by Mandy’s Reggie?]. I quickly picked up one which showed well for a few minutes before walking into cover.

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Woodcock-Tophill Low NR

The second was only gave obstructed views. Continued south and found several regulars had just seen Otter on Watton NR. Also missed the redhead Smew However didn’t show for us. Were going to do the gulls on O reservoir but none had come in by late afternoon so went back to car park hide. 17 Pintails were now present. Martin H had a adult Little Gull. For more from the NR click here and here.

Mike Coverdale had 6 Bewick’s and 12 Whooper Swans on Arram Carrs this morning.

The Kumlien’s Gull again at Barmston by on the beach by the car park. Check Duffbirder for more info.

Click here for Dave’s report from Humber Bridge CP.

For the latest from Paull Holme Strays click here.

Click here for more recent sightings in HVWG area.

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