Archive | June, 2015

Trying to look up.

28 Jun

Preface

Today marks the end of Hull Valley Wildlife Group. I’ll not go into details here [but intend a last posting on the Hull Valley blog in the near future] but I can’t see the point in continuing a blog solely based on a defunct recording area. For the future I’m blogging on this site. The only exception is moths. I’ve noticed that recent postings largely about moth and in Cottingham don’t interest many of my followers so I’m considering reviving the Cottingham moths site and will not be posting my moth trapping at least on here, with the possible exception of a true mega moth [it does happen as anyone who had followed my moth-ing blog will testify.]

26/6/15 Reading the pager when I got in from work on Friday afternoon saw I’d recently missed a message of a Stone Curlew at Hornsea Mere. Texted RL and were on our way shortly. However on arrival learnt it had flown. Fortunately not a county tick having seen one at Tophill Low NR 19 years ago. As compensation had a pair of Spotted Flycatcher by Wassand estate cottages. A rare bird now and I mostly only see them now during autumn passage. The Stone Curlew wasn’t seen again. For more info including pictures see here,DSCN7671

Spotted Flycatcher-Wassand estate.

27/6/15 Saturday afternoon I went to High Eske NR. Haven’t been much in recent weeks partly due to works pressure but also been put off due to recent trespass by kayakers. To be honest weekends, particularly in summer, are never the best time so I was taking a risk. But today it was very quiet and with little evidence of the supposed anglers who just come to party and leave all their rubbish. Birds weren’t too exciting either with no sign of any wildfowl young although there was a pair of Great  Crested Grebes sitting at the north end. The summer islands were showing although a bit early for waders there were two adult Oystercatchers, likely the resident pair, but no young. Also a Little Ringed Plover there and Redshank on the permanent island. Insects however were in good numbers with large numbers of Meadow Browns.

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Meadow Brown-High Eske NR

Moths were also well represented. Having acquire a new supply of collecting jars I now carry a few to “pot” any I can’t immediately identify and defy my attempts at photography. By this method I identified a Brown China-mark and later back at home a Small China-mark, the latter a new one for me.DSCN7686

Brown China-mark-High Eske NR

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Small China-mark-High Eske NR

Others moths identified in the field included Snout and Silver Y.

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Walked to Leven Canal but didn’t have the time for a proper look for dragonflies only adding Brown Hawker to the various damselflies at High Eske.

Back at the reserve three kayakers were on the water. As I was nearly finished I didn’t let it bother me but the signs warning of the dangers of blue-green algae give me the hope of some schadenfreude.

Walking back towards High Eske farm had my first Painted Lady. The same place and similar time to last year.
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Had a quick look at Swinemoor but the drainage and largely dry weather had done it’s damage and the only visible water was a small area near the drain. Unless we have a rerun of 2007 return wader passage won’t happen although there may be a chance of something on a area not visible from Weel Road as happened two year ago, [see here]

28/6/15 Went to Wassand Hall with JH on Sunday morning. Had a forlorn look at the Stone Curlew field then to the hide. Three pairs of Marsh Harrier and one of Buzzard are on nests viewable from the hide. Otherwise little else although some wildfowl was pushed west by the dinghies.DSCN7767                                                                   Mute Swan family-Decoy Bay,Hornsea Mere

Spent a long while waiting for Hobby but gave up and headed back to the car park. On the way came across a large group of longhorn moths species, Nemophora degeerella. More than my previous life total!

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Nemophora degeerella-near Wassand Hide

As I was taking pictures I got a text from MR that a Hobby had finally put in an appearance. Continued but then the battery failed so followed JH back to the hide where after a few minutes a Hobby flashed by.

Had my first Ringlet back at Wassand Hall where in the less windy conditions the Spotted Flycatchers were showing.

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Ringlet-Wassand Hall

Went to Tophill Low NR this afternoon. Hadn’t been for a while so took the opportunity to check the success of breeding birds on the south marshes since my last visit [see here] . Not surprisingly Black-headed Gulls were doing well.

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Breeding Black-headed Gulls-South Marsh East,Tophill Low NR.

Even better the Common Terns had several chicks, some well on.

DSCN7805Common Terns-South Marsh East Tophill Low NR

The Lesser Black-backed Gulls also had a chick. Felt a bit sorry for them as every-time they return to the nest they have to suffer attack by Black-headed Gulls and Common Terns. No doubt they would take any unattended chick though. Had three Little Ringed Plover on South Marsh East and one on Watton but along with the Oystercatcher pair on South Marsh East could see no young. Failed to see a Bee Orchid.

21/6/15 Blacktoft Sands RSPB

22 Jun

21/6/15 Having almost by accident had good views of the breeding pair of Montagu’s Harriers at the undisclosed East Yorkshire site last year as well as seeing them a few times from another site I wasn’t in a great rush to catch them at Blacktoft Sands RSPB. However Sunday with little about in “the valley” and with the added bonus of Ring-necked Duck JH and I decided to make the trip. On arrival, following a quick look in the information hide, went it straight to Singleton Hide where the harriers were routinely reported from. With them now a bit “old hat” the hide wasn’t crowded. DSCN7518

View from Singleton Hide-Blacktoft Sands RSPB

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Female Marsh Harrier-Blacktoft Sands RSPB

As expected good numbers of Marsh Harrier on constant view. Didn’t wait long for our first views of Monties when the female flew left but distant and often behind vegetation. The male followed the same route an hour later. Picked up earlier but again distant. Funny to see two “raptor-on-a-stick” bird scarers in the distance. A trap for the unwary? DSCN7543

“Raptor-on-a-stick” scarer near Blacktoft Sands RSPB

Next on to Townsend Hide where two Spotted Redshanks were roosting with a Greenshank.

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Spotted Redshank and Greenshank from Townsend Hide

Nothing new from 1st Hide but the Ring-necked Duck was still from Xerox Hide. Unfortunately it was fast asleep along with accompanying Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Wigeon and Pochard.DSCN7547

♂.Ring-necked Duck from Xerox Hide

Finally on to Marshland Hide where we had our only four Avocet. Don’t know whether they no-longer breed on the site or had just bred early and moved on but told 100+ were on site last month. Didn’t bother walking all the way to Ousefleet Hide. DSCN7550

Avocet from Marshland Hide

Called in on North Cave Wetlands on the way home. Started in Crosslands Hide. The second Temminck’s Stint for the year had been seen Thursday evening only but little of interest today except a few Little Ringed Plover.

Next was Main Lake. Like the marshes at Tophill Low NR much of North Cave Wetlands is a Black-headed Gull breeding colony. However among them on Main Lake are at least one pair of Mediterranean Gulls along with a least two other adults.

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A mass of fledgling Black-headed Gulls on Main Lake,North Cave Wetlands NR

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Adult and fledgling Mediterranean Gulls with Black-headed Gulls

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Two additional adult Mediterranean Gulls

Also had a flyby from the same Dakota I’d seen a few weeks back over Tophill Low NR.

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Douglas C-47A Dakota [DC3] over North Cave Wetland

Gull-billed Tern at Old Moor RSPB

17 Jun

16/6/15 Early Tuesday morning a Gull-billed Tern was seen briefly on the Wader Scrape at Old Moor RSPB. I was at work so nothing I could do about it until mid afternoon. Texted RL anyway to be ready if seen again. Not long after I got home the tern was reported briefly again “early afternoon” then again a little later. Contacted RL again and awaited his arrival but he then texted to say he couldn’t make it as he had a gig in the evening. Due to wrist problems and generally not feeling up to it I decided against getting the bike out. For some reason I didn’t make any effort to get a lift from a friend maybe due to it’s erratic behaviour similar to Nottingham 5 days ago when a bird was seen briefly at Idle Valley NR but didn’t linger. The closeness in both time and distance makes the possibly of the same bird a likelihood but where was it in between times? Apart from a unconfirmed sighting late afternoon at Adwick Washland RSPB there was no further sightings by early evening, however at 17.35 it returned to Old Moor RSPB Wader Scrape and seemed settled for the evening. About two hours later RL texted to say he’d been mistaken and the gig was tomorrow. I immediately rang to say basically “get your arse round here, it’s hanging around and we’ll make it easily before dark.” This he did despite also feeling off colour and [this section retracted to avoid the attention of the law]. Fortunately I had photographed the direction from my “Maps” app as the last few miles can be difficult with out local knowledge. Also a cheaper, and less annoying, than a satnav [JH’s at least?].

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“How to get there”

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The rest of the message was “then flew toward Bolton Ings”.

It did fly off at one point but only briefly and on arrival had the repeat message “it’s asleep” on the scrape from returning birders. Despite the odd panic, relieved by birders heading the other way we made it the the hide and quickly got views through someones ‘scope. Now we could relax we set about getting some pictures although it was a bit distant and the light was going.

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Gull-billed Tern with Black-headed Gulls-Old Moor RSPB-Wader Scrape

Thought we would be the “Johnnies come lately” but several East Yorkshire birders were still on site. Amazingly it was reported still at 22.30, two hours after we left. Modern ‘scopes are truly amazing?!

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Avocet and chick-Old Moor RSPB-Wader Scrape

A bit of a bogey bird, one was on Thorne Moors on the evening of 30th May 2012 but there was also a Black-winged Stilt at Fairburn Ings RSPB which was also a Yorkshire tick so I went for that first then met RL at Goole. We set off for a very long walk fortunately to be turned back on news the tern had flown. A few who had gone for it on first new connected though. To make thing worse the Stilt lingered, the tern was never seen again. Then came the infamous Tophill Low NR bird on 25th August 2012 which showed to a select few after a heavy shower but didn’t hang around [see here and here]. It’s almost 20 years since my last, and only British, Gull-billed Tern at Seaforth NR,Liverpool Freeport on 30th July 1995 and likely a lot longer for RL, although we’ve both seen them abroad since [Spain and USA].
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Not seen today.

Annual pilgrimage to Bempton Cliffs RSPB and Wykeham raptor viewpoint

14 Jun

10/6/15 To many birders Bempton Cliffs RSPB is seen as a tourist trap best avoided except for the occasional migrant. However with the perfusion of digital camera many of us are tempted with the proximity of birds, usually seen as mere dots from sea watch sites, to pay an annual visit. This is what JH and I did on Wednesday with the hope it might not be too busy. On arrival it was clear even mid-week isn’t quiet with volunteers even needed to control parking. The bulk of visitors as expected were the retired along with several mini-bus loads of school day-trippers. DSCN7324

JH walking towards the new visitor centre

This was my first sight of the new visitors centre and after all the hype was surprised that it didn’t seem significantly bigger although the toilet facilities were now up to motorway service area standards. I remember the little kiosk from my first visits in the 80’s. However this wasn’t a visit to read information boards so it was straight to the cliffs.

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The famous Gannet arch.

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The only Puffin with in range and it never stirred!

DSCN7329Kittiwake looking away..

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…that’s better!

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Razorbill

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Nesting Herring Gulls

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Guillemots on the sea

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Gannets and Guillemots

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Gannet nests.

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Fulmar nest

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Gannets in flight

Having got the shots we headed to Wykeham raptor viewpoint. Not my first visit as I’d been on the 13th May with JH and RL after twitching the Balearic Woodchat Shrike. Then it was too early for Honey Buzzards. Also there last Sunday but it was a no show at least while we were there but patience ran out early.

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Balearic Woodchat Shrike-Wykeham

As we arrived were told we’d just missed them so suspected we would have a long wait for a return pass. However JH and I were happy for a relaxing sit.

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View from Wykeham raptor viewpoint.

While we waited had plenty of other birds to keep us occupied. Several Common Buzzard were displaying joined briefly by a distant Goshawk. Also regular Siskin in flight and in trees below us, a small flock of Crossbill flew over and best of all a Tree Pipit singing in a bush just below the watchpoint. Not long before we planned to pack up I picked up a large raptor flying in from the left on flat wings. This ruled out Common Buzzard and only really Honey or a large female Goshawk were considered. As it got closer it a rolled slightly showing a largely white underwing with black  primaries and I was confident it could only be a Honey Buzzard and gave the call to get everyone else on it. Was joined by a second bird and although not the full butterfly display did gave a few slow stiff wing flaps. Also as the first bird disappeared to the right saw it doing the kite-like tail twist also good for Honey Buzzard. Job done. Amazingly this is only my third sighting in 25 years as we just don’t normally have the patience [or luck] needed.

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The watcher not the watched