Archive | July, 2015

Little Gulls at Hornsea Mere

28 Jul

Seems to have rained constantly since late yesterday morning but fortunately when RL picked me up early Tuesday afternoon the rain was easing. Took the opportunity to have a look at Hornsea Mere from Kirkholme Point. Maybe as a result of the recent weather a few Little Gulls were roosting on the jetties with Black-headed Gulls and Common Terns.

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Little Gull-Hornsea Mere

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Common Tern-Hornsea Mere

Walking the edge we flushed two Common Sandpipers.

DSCN8459Male House Sparrow-Hornsea Mere
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Colour-ringed Mute Swan-Hornsea Mere

Moved to Far Grange to do a sea watch from the end of golf course. Had a pale-phase Arctic Tern to the south but otherwise only seven Common Scoter flying north and a few Sandwich Terns. Plenty of feeding Sand Martin but no sign of any active nests on the cliff-face. Weather deteriorated so moved to Ulrome to continue our sea watch from the car. Had nothing new and the visibility deteriorated. Thought about a look at Bewholme Hall pond but the rain became torrential. However wasn’t raining approaching Beverley so stopped for a look at Swinemoor from Weel Road. Hoped the recent rain would have had some effect but little surface water in evidence.
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A dry Swinemoor over the R.Hull.

Wasn’t a total disappointment as a Kingfisher flying along the river carrying a large fish was nice. Also several Reed Warblers in the reeds.

Reed Warbler River Hull Swinemoor Beverley 280715 RL

Reed Warbler-R.Hull-RL

Finally managed an insect free blog but anyone missing moths should check my moth blog. Done late June and July is in “draft” will be “published” in a few days.

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High Eske and Tophill Low NRs

26 Jul

23/7/15 Went to High Eske NR on Thursday afternoon. Water level again low but Lapwing were the only waders on site though had an unseen Greenshank calling several times.

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Comma-High Eske NR

26/7/15 Went to Tophill Low NR with RL and ML on Sunday morning. Common Sandpiper on North Lagoon but no sign of any Little Egrets.DSCN8383

Common Sandpiper-N.Lagoon-Tophill Low NR

Most of the breeding Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls on South Marsh East have now left. Also no sign of any Little Ringed Plovers.

Leaving South Marsh East hide had an Emerald Damselfly. My first for a while and possibly a new species for ML.

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Emerald Damselfly-Tophill Low NR

Had my first Lesser Yellow Underwing moth of 2015 in L-shaped Hide.

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Lesser Yellow Underwing-Tophill Low NR

Three Little Egrets were on Watton NR. Also a distant Green Sandpiper before flying off towards Watton Carrs.

Several Shaded Broad-bar moths in South Scrub.

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Shaded Broad-bar-South Scrub-Tophill Low NR.

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Southern Hawker-Tophill Low NR.

Rain started early afternoon so canceled our sea watch and went to Hornsea Mere instead. Again several Common Terns as well as two Little Gulls.

Common Tern Hornsea Mere 260715a RL

Common Tern-Hornsea Mere-RL

Waders on the move but still mainly insects.

22 Jul

14/7/15 Went to High Eske NR on Tuesday afternoon. A warm calm day so checked for Banded Demoiselles on the river. Had seen them for the 1st time last summer and quickly located a small number around a pack of weed from the south-east corner of the reserve. Since have heard they are also nearby at Hull Bridge.DSCN8138

Banded Demoiselle-High Eske NR

The summer islands were exposed and briefly held c30 Lapwings. Also the first two returning Common Sandpipers and a Little Ringed Plover. However the main interest [for me?!] was still insects. Had a good number of Beautiful China-marks. The typical habit for this species of moth but my first sighting here and only my second record, the first at Tophill Low NR in July 2011.

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Beautiful China-mark-High Eske NR

Also a Common Wave was only my third record, one also here and the one trapped in Cottingham.
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Common Wave-High Eske NR

Silver-ground Carpet was also new for the year.DSCN8155

Silver-ground Carpet-High Eske NR

Had my first Narrow-bordred Five-spot Burnet for 2015 on Pulfin NR.
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Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet-High Eske NR

DSCN8157Red Admiral-High Eske NR

Again had a Little Owl on power-lines just to the north of the nature reserve but again very flighty.

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Little Owl-High Eske NR

Someone had put up a notice by the borrow pit, Initially thought it was genuine but quickly realised it was very tongue in cheek.DSCN8183Could have been written by me but ultimately it just isn’t possible to warden such a area, particularly when the EA lack the resources [or will?] to enforce the rules that do exist. The bit about swimming is particularly ironic as on my next visit on Friday, only a few hours after schools had broken up, there were four lads swimming in the pit and walking on the permanent island. Fortunately too late to disturb breeding birds but does put me off visiting for the next six weeks.

18/7/15 Went to Welton Waters on Saturday where eight Black-tailed Godwits on the foreshore was the best thing.
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Black-tailed Godwit-Welton Waters.

Also plenty of butterflies.

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Comma-Welton Waters.

19/7/15 Went to Hornsea Mere with ML, RL and JH on Sunday morning. Regular heavy showers and the best birds were several family parties of Common Terns.

Went to Tophill Low NR in the afternoon. Had a eclipse drake Goldeneye close to D reservoir Carpark Hide. A later visit to South Marsh West confirmed it to be the apparently flightless bird that had been summering there [see here].

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Goldeneye-D res-Tophill Low NR

There we re four Little Egrets on North Lagoon including one close to the hide.

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Little Egret-N.Lagoon-Tophill Low NR

Plenty of Southern Hawkers on the wing including one at rest near the lagoons.

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Southern Hawker-Tophill Low NR

The main reason for our visit though was for Richard Hampshire reserve talk. Fascinating to hear about and see pictures of the construction of the new drain from the lagoons to south marshes which will allow better control of water levels as well as hopefully improving the nutrient levels. Also an update on plans for the new visitors centre.

20/7/15 Had a brief visit to North Ferriby Riverside Walkway on Monday morning. Has matured greatly since my last visit a few years back and now looking good for migrant songbirds in the right conditions. Also had my first Shaded Broad-bar for 2015. A single Marbled White butterfly was a surprise.
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Shaded Broad-bar-N.Ferriby Riverside Walkway.

Went to Wilfholme Landing with RL in the afternoon in the hope of finding Banded Demoiselle within the Tophill Low NR recording area but windy and turning to rain. Did however have good views of Emperor Dragonfly and Brown Hawker on Barmston Drain.

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Silver Y-Wilfholme Landing

Moved on to Tophill Low NR. Now five Little Egrets on North Lagoon with a Grey Heron adding some spice.

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Grey Heron with Little Egrets on N.Lagoon-Tophill Low NR

Also had a Whimbrel flying south but didn’t relocate it at the south end. Water levels on North Lagoon looking good for a Spotted Crake in the near future.

Had our first two Green Sandpiper this year for the site on Watton NR.

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Green Sandpiper-Watton NR

Also the gruesome sight of a Lesser Black-backed Gull flying in with then slowly swallowing a Moorhen chick.

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Lesser Black-backed Gull devouring a Moorhen Chick-Watton NR

Long-horned beetle, Belted Galloway and American Wigeon

13 Jul

9/7/15 Following a possible Ring-necked Duck at Tophill Low NR on Tuesday [see here] thought I’d check for it a High Eske NR on Thursday afternoon. No sign of it and nothing else notable bird wise but good to see the Tufted Duck still had seven chicks. Had to satisfy myself with insect. Rewarded early with my first long-horned beetle of the year. DSCN8030

Four-banded Longhorn Beetle-High Eske NR

Also a distinctive hoverfly. DSCN8032

Volucella pellucens

A small herd of Belted Galloway have been grazing Pulfin Bog for a few weeks. Likely from the same stock as the cattle at Tophill Low NR. Seem tamer than the previous Highland Cattle which could be a bit flighty. Also good that they are contained on Pulfin and not free to roam the whole area as meeting even friendly cattle on the narrow track around High Eske NR isn’t fun. DSCN8040

Belted Galloway on Pulfin NR.

On a negative point wasn’t good to see Himalayan Balsam is in force again this summer. A highly invasive garden escape that grows strongly in wetland habit [see here for more details]. DSCN8048

Himalayan Balsam-High Eske NR.

Fortunately there was evidence that clearance was already underway. DSCN8049

Pulled Himalayan Balsam at High Eske NR

Walking back south had a Black-tailed Skimmer but didn’t rest long enough to photograph. Texted by SG that GED had found a drake American Wigeon at North Cave Wetlands NR. Wasn’t even a year tick for me [see here] but was new for the reserve so thought I better go. Arriving at South Hide the wigeon was currently out of view having moved behind an island. However on arrival GD picked it up in open water with a Eurasian Wigeon. Originally asleep but I could pick out the distinctive white-crown. DSCN8059

♂.American Wigeon with Eurasian Wigeon-Main Lake,North Cave Wetlands.

Fortunately did wake up to give better views. DSCN8064

♂.American Wigeon with Eurasian Wigeon-Main Lake,North Cave Wetlands.

The fact it turned up the day one went missing at Old Moors RSPB would suggest the same bird. There were two American Wigeons in the county six weeks ago though. Didn’t bother with it on my visit to Old Moors RSPB ON Sunday [see here] so can’t comment. Not seen on Friday. 12/7/15 Had another visit to North Cave Wetlands NR on Sunday evening. Nothing of note and only manageD to see one adult Mediterranean Gull on Main Lake. No waders, even plovers, except Oystercatcher and Lapwing on Dryham Ings but dID get an interesting combo from Crosslands Hide. DSCN8116

Oystercatcher and Little Grebe on Dryham Ings.

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Gatekeeper-Dryham Lane.

More breeding birds at Tophill Low NR

8 Jul

8/7/15 Went to Tophill Low NR with RL on Wednesday morning to meet JH. A possible Ring-necked Duck had been on Watton NR yesterday so headed that way first. Although cooler than last week with frequent heavy showers there were still plenty of butterflies around O reservoir including our first Gatekeeper of the year.

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Gatekeeper-Tophill Low NR

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Large Skipper-Tophill Low NR

Having failed to see Bee Orchid so far this year was glad to find one in an area I’d not seen one before.

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Bee Orchid-Tophill Low NR

No sign of Ring-necked Duck on Watton NR and only a small number of Tufted Duck. However there were two Little Egrets increasing to four during a heavy shower.

DSCN7969Little Egrets-Watton NR

Also three Oystercatchers and a pair of Little Ringed Plover.
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Oystercatchers on Watton NR tern raft

A decent flock of Tufted Duck on O reservoir but again no Ring-necked Duck. On to South East where Lapwing numbers were now building up.

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Lapwing-South Marsh East.

Walking to the other South East Hide had an interesting micro moth.
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Argyresthia bonnetella-Tophill Low NR

Recent work on the marsh continues to pay dividends for breeding birds with many young Black-headed Gulls and Common Terns now on the wing.

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Families of Common Terns on South Marsh East.

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Recent Black-headed Gull chick following there parent.

Tophill Low NR’s first Lesser Black-backed Gull chick was looking well.

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Lesser Black-backed Gull adult and chick on South Marsh East.

Best news was the recently hatched family of four Little Ringed Plover chicks performing well just under the hide.

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Little Ringed Plover family on South Marsh East.

No sign of any of the recent Green Sandpipers.

Had a Kingfisher on South Lagoon.

Finally checked D reservoir but again no sign of a Ring-necked Duck among the Tufted Ducks. With the weather having deteriorated from a wet summer day to more like late autumn we called it a day.

Waiting in the heat for Little Bittern

7 Jul

29/6/15 Last days of June finally brought some hot weather. On Monday with recent reports of Marbled White on the wing at Kiplingcotes thought another visit might be worthwhile [see here and here]. Started again at the station.

DSCN7850Wasn’t too promising as I’ve usually had them early on but did have a few butterflies including my first Large Skippers.
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Meadow Brown-near Kiplingcotes Station.

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Large Skipper-near Kiplingcotes Station

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Ringlet-near Kiplingcotes Station

Finally had a Marbled White as I drew parallel with Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit NR but it promptly flew over the fence into the reserve. The reserve itself was initially unpromising. Saw no butterflies but flushed a Little Owl from a thorn bush. Fortunately it flew to the scrub at the east end and I was able to slowly approach with in range of a reasonable picture. It again flew a short distance, this time out of view. This owl had been seen by a recent “Birding with Flowers” group.

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Little Owl-Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit

In the shelter of the scrub found two Marbled White at rest on Knapweed.
DSCN7847                                                            Marbled White on Knapweed-Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit

30/6/15 Tuesday afternoon went to North Cave Wetlands NR. Hoped for recent Green Sandpiper as well as the Wood Sandpiper but neither were about.

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Rabbit-North Cave Wetlands NR

Had a few dragonflies including Emperor which didn’t linger and Four-spotted Chaser that did.

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Four-spotted Chaser-North Cave Wetlands NR

Also a good number of butterflies.DSCN7895

Speckled Wood-North Cave Wetlands NR

A male Little Bittern was reported at Old Moors RSPB late afternoon but in an area not normally accessible so didn’t seem any need to panic yet. The species however was high on my wanted list for Yorkshire not being around for the Potteric Carrs breeders in the eighties.

Had several damselflies along the western path.

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Blue-tailed Damselfly-North Cave Wetlands NR

Joined SG in South Hide to count Mediterranean Gulls. Had the breeding pair who appeared to be trying to drive off their two juveniles and start courting again. Also a second summer that was new for me. Moved to Crosslands Hide where we had up to two different adults. A pair is suspected to be nesting out of sight on Dryham Ings.

The Little Bittern had been seen again and access to the reedbed arranged. Didn’t feel up to doing the trip on my own and considered getting a lift but couldn’t cope with a late night and as it turned out a pointless wait until dusk would have been the result. However Wednesday morning it was seen again. Had something on that evening so couldn’t go after work but again was fortunate as not reported after early afternoon. Did much the same the rest of the week only occasionally seen at a time when I might of been there but the heat and a heavy work load made a trip out of the question.

3/7/15 Workload lighter on Friday and made a trip to High Eske NR late afternoon. Highlight was a Green Sandpiper flying off. Otherwise three Common Terns, over flying Little Egret and a recent brood of eight Tufted Duck ducklings were only notable birds.

5/7/15 Helped by not going out on Saturday afternoon managed to hype myself up for a early ride to Old Moors RSPB on Sunday morning. The main reason for an early start was it seemed the best time to see it but also thought the earlier the better would mean a less packed hide and with recent tropical heat I was worried a later arrival could mean the hide becoming like the “Black hole of Calcutta”. Due to work related hand problems as well as a mental problem with long rides including motorways I had some trepidation. Did have some bad pains in my right hand for the first few motorway miles but didn’t get bad enough to turn back. Also the early start meant little traffic so didn’t feel stressed. The only stressful moment was along the M18 when approaching the M180 slip-road a HGV decided to turn right at the last moment. Fortunately I wasn’t parallel and managed to pull into the outer lane. No surprise the driver appeared to be using a smart phone. Having been to the reserve recently remembered the route and arrived with out consulting the map. In Bittern Hide all the seats were taken but there was plenty of standing room. Had already been seen so could relax a bit and hope it showed again soon. Didn’t have to wait long before it was picked up in a distant willow. Wasn’t showing well but at least I’d seen it. Eventually it crawled to the top then launched itself giving the views needed for tick it. Texted RL that I would easily get back to join him and ML for a bit of local birding [in the valley is no longer in use!]. While doing this I missed a close fly-by but was already happy with what I’d seen. We all left the hide as it appeared to be visible from Bittern bus stop. Couldn’t see it on the ground but it again it flew this time passing with in a few metres before disappearing behind Bittern Hide. Just too quick and close to manage a picture although a guy with a long lens got some great shots.

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“It’s just flown behind that bush”. Honest.

On the way back had another stressful moment when a Landrover stopped belong the give way lines at the Rowley junction then for some reason started to edge out more as I got close. Some people need taking out and slapping! Got home with time to empty the moth trap and watch Andrew Marr before being picked up by RL. Headed to Kilnsea where a White-rumped Sandpiper on Beacon Ponds would be a tick for ML. Parked at Kilnsea Wetlands and walked to Long Bank. The bird was initially motionless on shingle bank with nesting Little Terns, a year tick. So distant and partially hidden it took a while to be convinced it was a bird and not just a “shape”. Eventually after everything was flushed it took to feeding on the waters edge. Still initially difficult to separate from a Little Stint but flew regularly showing the white rump. Another year tick was Sandwich Tern.

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Extreme record shot-White-rumped Sandpiper-Beacon Ponds

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Tern raft with Avocet-Beacon Ponds

Next went to Hornsea Mere. Up to a thousand Little Gulls have been seen in the evening but none on view this afternoon.

Headed for Brough Haven to check breeding Marsh Harriers but a text from PS about a Quail at Wauldby caused plan change. Parked at the entrance to Wauldby Manor Farm where after a short walk we joined PS. Followed him to a large poppy field passing a pond swarming with dragonflies on the way.

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The Quail field-Wauldby Manor Farm.

The Quail was still calling if a bit distant. Also a Corn Bunting was singing from power-lines. A local rarity now although PS has had them regularly in area for years. Likely a result of organic farming methods.

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Distant singing Corn Bunting on power-lines-Wauldby Manor Farm.

Had a baby Common Frog walking back.

DSCN7940Baby Common Frog-Wauldby Manor Farm.

Finally made it to Brough Haven to count the Marsh Harriers but again few waders.

Postscript

Not long after I left Old Moors RSPB access to the reedbeds was suspended due to fear of birders going too far disturbing a Bittern feeding young. Whether a coincidence or the fact that the Little Bittern was also being flushed it has since been much more elusive and on Tuesday it wasn’t seen until early afternoon. The White-rumped Sandpiper remains.