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Great White Egret and other stuff at Tophill Low NR

2 Aug

2/8/17 I haven’t been to Tophill Low NR for a few weeks but with rain forecast it seemed a good place to be. Despite the title the big white heron wasn’t too important as I had seen one there in May, which despite their increasing occurrence was my first for almost three years and even longer at this site. More interesting was the report of Spotted Flycatcher at Hempholme Meadows yesterday. They had bred in O Wood but I hadn’t managed to see them there. However no sign up there but did see a Ruddy Darter on the way up and photographed some Little Gulls on the straight wall walking back [had counted at least 12 earlier from the visitor centre].

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Ruddy Darter at Tophill Low NR near “top hide”.

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Little Gulls at Tophill Low NR on D res wall.

Also no Kingfishers but had one walking past South Lagoon.

 

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Red Admiral at Tophill Low NR wildlife garden.

Headed to South Marsh East where the big egret had been earlier, as well as a variety of waders. No sign of the Great but several of it’s Little cousins.

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Little Egret at Tophill Low on South Marsh East.

Also a couple of Black-tailed Godwit and few Green Sandpiper but no sign of the Wood Sandpiper. The Lapwing regularly got up, as is their habit, taking other waders and some Little Gulls with them.

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Green Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East.

Headed for the back-2-back hide in the hope that the missing two would be seen from there but got diverted to Watton NR where as expected an unidentified ‘stint’ was a Dunlin. Nice to see Common Terns feeding young though.

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 Common Terns at Tophill Low NR on Watton NR.

Had a look from L-shaped hide where as often moths provided more interest than bird.

Agonopterix alstromeriana, Copper Underwing and Mouse Moth at Tophill Low NR in L-shaped Hide

Back at South Marsh East where I had just missed the Wood Sandpiper but the Great White flew into view.

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Great white Egret at Tophill Low on South Marsh East.

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Goosander at Tophill Low on South Marsh East.

Back round to the first hide and the Wood Sandpiper was showing but distant. Having opened the visitor centre and with no one else around to past the task on to I went up there with the hope of locking up and going but a had a steady stream of customers. No problem though just made myself a cup of tea and rigged up a ‘scope to show those interested a Little Gull. At least I’ve gone some of my way to paying for my annual permit!

 

Pacific Golden Plover at North Cave Wetlands

22 Jul

21/7/17 Spent Friday morning at High Eske NR. Again nothing new but at it was peaceful, without the teenagers who tend to invade on warm summer days. Took in Swine Moor on the way back. Despite some good rain yesterday it was drier than on Tuesday won’t be worth looking at again before some prolonged rain. May be some hidden pools nearer Barmston Drain which I may check next week.

Getting in saw a probable Pacific Golden Plover was at North Cave Wetlands. My previous Pacific Golden Plover was found by RL and spent much of July 2000 at nearby Brough Haven. My first was on the opposite side of the Humber at South Ferriby in 1993, yet again in July. Checked the reserve Facebook page to confirm it was at least a Lesser Golden Plover and therefore worth ignoring Wilbur’s demands for a walk. Getting there mid afternoon had reasonable views over the gate on Dryham Lane.

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Pacific Golden Plover on Cell A-North Cave Wetlands.

It moved close to Crossland’s Hide but before entering was I distracted by a group viewing an adult Yellow-legged Gull on the silt lagoon. Had a look at it among Lesser Black-backed before they all got up and on re-alighting the Yellow-legged wasn’t to be seen. A Caspian Gull had been found so I went into the hide where luckily most were still looking the other way at the plover. The Caspian was easily found, being the only large pale gull among the Lesser Black-backs with no Herring Gulls present. Was shortly joined by JH who’d also viewed the plover from Dryham Lane. After taking a few pictures of the Caspian, and the Yellow-legged Gull not reappearing, I decided to get back to take Wilbur out instead of visiting the rest of the reserve.

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Caspian Gull with Lesser Black-backed Gulls on silt pond-North Cave Wetlands

Managed to find a Smoky Wainscot on a thistle in fields off Dunswell Road but typical of this time of year the birds were hard work.

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Smoky Wainscot-fields off Dunswell Road-Cottingham

The plover flew high south after I left and didn’t return by dusk.

 

Twitching Waxwing with Wilbur

20 Mar

20/3/17 Got a text from RL early afternoon about 23+ Waxwings in Hull at the Junction of Hotham Road South and Wold Road. Had been raining heavy all morning and Wilbur was restless for a proper walk so as it was only a small diversion to my Willerby Carrs walk [see here] took this route. Met another regular dog walking birder and thought he was going to follow me but he baulked at going down the very muddy Wood Lane. Got a message that the Waxwings had flown but on arriving found MU photographing some with his mobile phone through his telescope. Only four left and just got in one shot before they flew behind shops and didn’t return by 4pm.

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Waxwings on Wold Road, Hull

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Carrion Crow off Wold Road eating what appears to be a Woodpigeon squab.

Apart from a flock of Fieldfare that alighted near Haltemprice farm I had little else of note although there were still a few Wigeon and Teal on flashes north of Carr Farm and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen regularly.

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Wilbur at the back of Springhead GC

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat in Cottingham

18 Mar

A Lesser Whitethroat was found in a garden near me last week.

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The garden in Cottingham

As this is a well watched garden it’s interesting to think where it spent the rest of the winter. Following circulation of photographs it was confirmed as a likely Eastern or Siberian race. Following a confrontation with a Robin it lost a feather. A feather, hopefully the same one, was later retrieved and forward to Martin Collinson for gene analysis ,so with luck the exact race will be known. I was lucky to be able to see the bird twice this week.

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Eastern [Siberian] Lesser Whitethroat

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Eastern [Siberian] Lesser Whitethroat

Unfortunately as the bird can only be seen from with in the house and there is no nearby public area where it might be seen I am unable to give anymore information. Even parking for few cars would be very difficult. Fortunately we’re only talking about a race! If I’m ever lucky to find a similar bird in my garden I have the advantage ample parking nearby.

Still present on Tuesday 28th March.

Birding from the new Tophill Low NR Visitors Centre

12 Mar

12/3/17 Went to Tophill Low NR with ML and RL on Sunday morning. Started in D reservoir Middle Hide. The long staying female Long-tailed Duck was still present but kept close in the the near side so was difficult to see and even harder to photograph.

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Female Long-tailed Duck on D reservoir.

The main purpose of the trip was to attend the meeting of those volunteering to help out in the new Visitors Centre. I’ll gloss over any details of the place as Richard will do a better job and some of the more interesting features are yet to be completed. The main room of visitors centre features full height windows over looking the reservoir but because of the essential anti-birdstrike coating they aren’t optically perfect. They give a good panoramic view but to get a better look or take pictures the adjacent ‘members hide’ is essential. Only has a fraction of the capacity of the now demolished Carpark Hide but being higher and nearer the reservoir the viewing is an improvement.

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Pair of Red-crested Pochard on D reservoir

Also can again view the reservoir with out the long muddy walk to Middle Hide.

There are feeders viewable from a side window and these seem fine for photography.

 

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Siskin on Visitors Centre feeders.

 

A few Chiffchaff are now singing but couldn’t hear the one by South Lagoon on the way out. Nothing else of interest reported on the reserve but with migrants; including Garganey,  Little Ringed Plover and Sand Martin; seen in the county this weekend, things should get interesting soon.

 

Short-tailed Vole at Raywell

14 Feb

14/2/17 I visited Raywell for likely fifty years and birded there since the mid eighties. Since The Woodland Trust took it over the woods there, in 1991, they are now known as Nut Wood and Wauldby Scrogs. Too be honest birding there is hard work and I mostly visit in winter when time is limited and it’s too cold to bother going any further. This was the case Tuesday afternoon and after the recent cold wet period I needed an excuse to get the bike out.

First checked the path to the north by Trinity Farm hoping for farmland birds but it was very quiet. Walking back towards the woods kept seeing a brown shape moving it the grass nearby. First thoughts were a foraging Robin, Wren or Dunnock but getting closer could see it was a small blunt faced rodent. From the location it had to be a Short-tailed Vole. It was very approachable and was regularly dashing from under a hedge to feed in the grass but was usually just an obscured brown shape but eventually got a clear enough view to get one decent picture.

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Short-tailed Vole-Microtus agrestis-Raywell

Had seen a lot of winter thrushes on my last visit in January but today only had one Fieldfare, near the vole. There were a lot of Blackbird though and at least one Song Thrush. Also plenty of Great and Blue Tit but although I heard a Marsh Tit couldn’t locate it. A brief male Bullfinch added some colour. Walking back through the woods had a striking fungus, Scarlet Elf Cap, fortunately one of the few I can identify with confidence.

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Scarlet Elf Cap-Raywell

 

 

Geese at Hornsea Mere

4 Feb

4/2/17 Went out with RL and ML early Saturday afternoon. Started at Swine Moor where there was still 1400 Wigeon and 260 Teal but again the only waders were a few Redshank. Next checked Fossehill Pond and nearby roofs but couldn’t find any white-winged gulls. Spent the rest of the day at Hornsea Mere. Started with Wassand Hide where on entering RL called out a Bittern, which we all managed to see before it dropped into the reeds. Had at least five Marsh Harrier, often giving close views.

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♀.Marsh Harrier from Wassand Hide at Hornsea Mere

I checked the distant ducks in Decoy channel and found two Long-tailed Ducks. While watching them a second Bittern flew in from the east and again lost it close to where the first had gone in. A second year tick was added when ML called out a Jay flying over. Next round to Kirkholme Point. Found nothing new but on leaving I saw some geese just past the gate.

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‘Goose stepping” Greylag with a Tundra Bean Goose and several Russian White-fronted Geese at  Hornsea Mere

On a closer inspection  we found, among the Greylags, 34 Russian White-fronts, then a Tundra Bean Goose with two Pink-footed Geese.

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Russian White-fronted Geese at Hornsea Mere

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Tundra Bean Goose with Russian White-fronted Goose at Hornsea Mere

Went round to Seaton Road Hide where ML found a close Long-tailed Duck followed by a second less well marked bird.

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Long-tailed Duck at Hornsea Mere from Seaton Road Hide.

Although the original birds were distant it seemed likely these were different birds. Maybe because of the charm conditions the gull roost was very small.