Another Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR

17 Sep

The second Pectoral Sandpiper of the year for Tophill Low NR was again found by visitors on a Monday. Went to check it out with RL on Tuesday. Still present on South Marsh East but too distant for a reasonable picture.14311254_1170391073017539_5739176024044637117_o

Ruff and Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East-RL

17/9/16 Went back to Tophill Low NR with MB on Saturday morning. The Pectoral Sandpiper hadn’t been reported since Wednesday but was in the log for Friday. Started with North Lagoon. Three Greenshank were there on Tuesday but initially no waders today but a Ruff dropped in. On South Marsh East the sandpiper hadn’t been seen but I picked it up far off with Teal. No sign of the two Ruff it had accompanied on Tuesday. Went round to back-2-back hide where it should be closer but wasn’t currently on show so headed to Watton NR. The usual mass of Greylags but also three Little Egrets and a sign of autumn with flocks of Golden Plover circling Watton Carrs. Back at South Marsh East the Pectoral Sandpiper was showing well enough for a picture but often hidden behind vegetation.dscn2922

Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

A second look at North Lagoon found a Greenshank and Dunlin.

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Greenshank at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

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Ruff and Dunlin at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

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Pied Wagtail at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon 

With weather more seasonal after the heatwave earlier this week it wasn’t surprising a Comma near South Marsh East was our only butterfly of the morning and we also only had a few Migrant Hawkers.dscn2912

Comma at Tophill Low NR

Walking the north end in the afternoon we did better with several Speckled Woods in D wood and a few Small Whites in North Scrub as well as many Common Darter on the path near Hempholme Meadows. Bird-wise it was poor but redeemed by an approachable Wheatear along straight road and a fly over male Marsh Harrier.dscn2967

North Wheatear at Tophill Low NR by D reservoir

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The current status of the new visitor centre. Check the Tophill blog for more details.

Black Terns are like buses……

2 Sep

30/8/16 A Western Purple Swamphen was founded found at Alkborough Flats early Tuesday afternoon. The thought of getting straight off and beating the crowds passed my mind but having already seen the Minsmere bird at the start of the month and a juvenile Black Tern present since this morning at Hornsea Mere, a bird I’d not seen for nearly three years, proved more tempting. I’d actually done Alkborough Flats on Sunday with JH anyway and as he and ML both need the Swamphen it’s likely on the agenda for Sunday if it doesn’t repeat the Minsmere bird and leave overnight on Friday. Anyway back to Hornsea Mere. Arriving at Kirkholme Point there was no sign of any {real] birders nor the tern. Fortunately met up with ST and assured it did go missing for long times and eventually and picked it up distantly behind tree island and wasn’t too long before it flew back to Kirkholme Point with four Little Gulls [number of the later still well below previous years with a hundred times that number not usual at this time in the past. Don’t know if anyone is counting the evening pre-roost currently.

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Juvenile Black Tern at Hornsea Mere from Kirkholme Point 

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Little Gull at Hornsea Mere from Kirkholme Point

Next went to North Cliff Boat Club. First checked the set-aside to the north for migrants then did a sea-watch but not really the right winds for either. Strangely did have a Black Tern followed shortly by another two that lingered for a while giving me time to be sure I wasn’t ‘moulding birds’ [RL will understand this term!]. Like buses…. Otherwise a single Fulmar was the best bird, although a few years back they would have been a common sight.

Paid a quick visit to the Seaton Road Hide [see here for access details to keep GB off my back] but couldn’t see the tern or any Little Gulls, in fact couldn’t see much. Some guerrilla conservation may be needed if Wassand Estate don’t do something soon. The only notable ‘wildlife’ was a young couple ‘at it’ in the adjacent field. Decency  and the real possibility they were underage kept my hand from the camera.

1/9/16 Had another look at the Black Tern with RL on Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately it was frequenting the south side and only came close to Kirkholme Point while RL was buying an ice cream. We finished the day doing a sea-watch with JH off Far Grange. Although nothing special the number of Common Terns early evening were impressive. 14125702_1159611220762191_2063226160474370919_o

Sandwich Tern [above]. Gannet [below] off Far Grange-RL 

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Red-throated Diver off Far Grange-RL 

Little Stint at Tophill Low NR

25 Aug

25/8/16 Went to Tophill Low NR with RL and ML on Thursday morning. A Little Stint was found by JL on Wednesday evening and fortunately still present on North Lagoon this morning.

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Little Stint at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

Only one Curlew Sandpiper today as well as sixteen Ruff, two Greenshank and two Common Sandpiper. A Ringed Plover flew over.

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Curlew Sandpiper and Ruff at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

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Grey Wagtail at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

Little else reported from the rest of the reserve. After lunch in car park hide we headed to do some work on Watton NR but were accosted on route by a birder who reported a Great White Egret on there. Abandoned our wheelbarrows and went to the borrow pit hide but no sign of an egret. However when we got to the pit a Little Egret got up with the geese.

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Watton NR [Little Egret is the white dot left of the public hide].

Cleared the Ragwort, not too arduous as regular pulling over the years is doing its job.

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Ragwort in the wheelbarrow.

Finishing that we hacked down the vegetation threatening to obscure the view from the public hide.

Walking back late afternoon checked North Lagoon again. All present with the addition of a Dunlin. The Curlew Sandpiper was very close but light wasn’t too good. Torrential rain as we left.

Keeping up to date at Tophill Low NR

24 Aug

23/8/16 No news from Tophill Low NR on Monday and as I in needed of a more relaxed day the multiply hide on the reserve seemed a good idea on Tuesday morning. When I’d gone for the Pectoral Sandpiper the previous Tuesday the one man road patching truck had been along the road from Watton. The road to High Eske had been treated the same for a few weeks back and there was still a lot of loose gravel about therefore I wasn’t looking forward to my next trip to Tophill Low NR by bike. The road isn’t fun at the best of times being narrow with lots of blind bends. You try to keep well in on the corners to avoid ‘out of control’ oncoming traffic, a large proportion being overconfident Yorkshire Water vans, but this is where many of the patched wre so forcing you into the middle of the road. Things weren’t too back until the last bend before the Cranswick junction where there was so much loose gravel it was like riding on ball hearings.

No surprise there was nothing in the reserve log from yesterday. Started at North Lagoon. Much as on Sunday with all three Curlew Sandpiper, 13 Ruff, two Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and Ringed Plover.

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Common Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon.

The terrapin was out on South Lagoon.

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 Yellow-bellied Slider at Tophill Low NR on South Lagoon

Knowing how elusive the Pectoral Sandpiper could be I put in lot of time in both South Marsh East hides. No sign and only five Ruff, two Green Sandpiper and two Little Ringed Plover. Kingfisher continue to show well below South Marsh East 1st hide.

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Mouse Moth at Tophill Low NR in L-shaped hide

Watton NR was packed with hundreds of Greylag and Canada Geese but the only waders were c100 Lapwing.

Good numbers of butterflies, mainly on fleabane, in South Scrub and O reservoir ditch.

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Painted Lady at Tophill Low NR in South Scrub

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Brimstone butterfly at Tophill Low NR in South Scrub

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Small Copper at Tophill Low NR by O reservoir

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Common Blue butterfly at Tophill Low NR by O reservoir

Had lunch in the car park hide, while checking D reservoir. Couldn’t see the Scaup. Good numbers of gulls but found nothing unusual. Did the north end for the first time in several weeks. Nothing much on North Marsh or Hempholme Meadow but did give me a chance to look again for the Scaup for the other two hide. Vague claim of the Pectoral Sandpiper again on South Marsh East. I had intended on another circuit of the south end anyway. Gave South Marsh East another good grill but only added Ringed Plover and a few Snipe.

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Green Sandpiper and Snipe at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East.

A Green Sandpiper was on South Marsh West. Ended the trip early evening in North Lagoon. No change but the Curlew Sandpipers were closer and got a few shots before the light started to go.

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Curlew Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

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Ruff at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

The trip back wasn’t as bad as traffic seemed to have cleared some of the worst gravel. Always find the trip back along the Watton road less as gruelling anyway. Whether this is real or just psychological I’m yet to decide.

Curlew Sandpipers at Tophill Low NR

21 Aug

2o/8/16 With the weather forecast bad for Saturday had an early start at High Eske NR. Actually started raining heavily on arrival but braved it out and soon became dry and remain that way until I left mid morning but the wind got up to the point where it was no-longer fun. Waders particularly Curlew Sandpipers are on the move but only managed two Common Sandpiper and a Dunlin.

As predicted yesterday Curlew Sandpipers appeared at Tophill Low NR during the afternoon but by then the wind was strong with the occasional heavy shower so hoped they would stay until Sunday.

21/8/16 Sunday morning started at Hornsea Mere with JH. The site has been very disappointing recently and as yet no sign of the regular Little Gull built up. From Kirkholme Point only managed two Little Ringed Plovers, which like most waders flew around few times in the vain hope of finding some exposed mud.

Next to Bewholme Hall Pond. There best there was a Common Sandpiper and Pink-footed Goose.

Finally made it to Tophill Low NR midday. Played it cool and did D reservoir but did find the Scaup that had eluded me earlier in the week.

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Scaup among Tufted Duck at Tophill Low NR on D reservoir

Getting to North Lagoon there were three Curlew Sandpiper along with two Greenshank [increasing to three on the second visit], twelve Ruff, Common Sandpiper Ringed Plover and 3 Grey Wagtails.

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Curlew Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

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Ruff at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

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Greenshank at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

The Pectoral Sandpiper was still on South Marsh East, again best from back-to-back hide. DSCN2537

Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

Also on the marsh were Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Ringed Plover and Little Ringed Plover.

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Green Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

RL picked up an Osprey flying south over the river, my first here for a few years.

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Osprey at Tophill Low over South Marsh East-RL

Curlew Sandpipers at Tophill Low NR

21 Aug

2o/8/16 With the weather forecast bad for Saturday had an early start at High Eske NR. Actually started raining heavily on arrival but braved it out and soon became dry and remain that way until I left mid morning but the wind got up to the point where it was no-longer fun. Waders particularly Curlew Sandpipers are on the move but only managed two Common Sandpiper and a Dunlin.

As predicted yesterday Curlew Sandpipers appeared at Tophill Low NR during the afternoon but by then the wind was strong with the occasional heavy shower so hoped they would stay until Sunday.

21/8/16 Sunday morning started at Hornsea Mere with JH. The site has been very disappointing recently and as yet no sign of the regular Little Gull built up. From Kirkholme Point only managed two Little Ringed Plovers, which like most waders flew around few times in the vain hope of finding some exposed mud.

Next to Bewholme Hall Pond. There best there was a Common Sandpiper and Pink-footed Goose.

Finally made it to Tophill Low NR midday. Played it cool and did D reservoir but did find the Scaup that had eluded me earlier in the week.

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Scaup among Tufted Duck at Tophill Low NR on D reservoir

Getting to North Lagoon there were three Curlew Sandpiper along with two Greenshank [increasing to three on the second visit], twelve Ruff, Common Sandpiper Ringed Plover and 3 Grey Wagtails.

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Curlew Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

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Ruff at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

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Greenshank at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

The Pectoral Sandpiper was still on South Marsh East, again best from back-to-back hide. DSCN2537

Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

Also on the marsh were Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Ringed Plover and Little Ringed Plover.

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Green Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

RL picked up an Osprey flying south over the river, my first here for a few years.

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Osprey at Tophill Low NR over South Marsh East-RL

North Cave Wetlands and Tophill Low NRs

19 Aug

19/8/16 Friday morning was at North Cave Wetlands for the third day, this time with RL, SL and ML. Quick walk to Reedbed and the Spotted Crake was ticked off in a matter of minutes.

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Spotted Crake-North Cave Wetlands on Reedbed

A good influx of Curlew Sandpiper into the area this morning including 23 found by SB at Paul Holme Strays, as well as Pied Flycatcher near the fort. Had a quick from Crosslands Hide in the hope one had dropped in but the only had five Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper.

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Picture of the previous Spotted Crake on Crossland Hide door.

Next to Tophill Low NR, unfortunately the Pectoral Sandpiper seemed to moved on. Had a look at D reservoir but again failed to locate the Scaup seem again by LJ yesterday. Moved on to North Lagoon where most of the waders seemed to be. Had 7 Ruff, 2 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpipers, Common Sandpiper and 3 Grey Wagtail.

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Greenshank-Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon 

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Ruff-Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon 

North Lagoon is one of the best places to photograph waders but today, with start of the forecast rain, conditions weren’t perfect. Had intended moving one but the rain slowed and we took RH up on another tour of the construction site [see here for a previous account].

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Work on the new Tophill Low NR visitors centre site

Again when we were thinking of going, the Pectoral Sandpiper was relocated back on South Marsh East so ML, SL and I headed that way. Again best from back-to-back hide. Was surprisingly difficult to locate in the poorer light, proving the cryptic nature of its plumage on muddy islands.

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Pectoral Sandpiper-Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

Also Garganey and Pintail which we didn’t see but did have Snipe and another Green Sandpiper and Ruff.