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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!

 

2016 in 12 picture

31 Dec

Intro

Most of this year, due to having more free time, I’ve managed to blog when I’ve had the inspiration and a few photographs. I’ve rarely left Yorkshire though so most of the highlights will inevitably be local. I’ve kept going with Cottingham Moths but still wonder whether it’s worth the effort. However viewing figures have doubled since last year. See how I feel when I start trapping again in 2017.

January

My first picture for 2016 is the returning Barmston Kumlien’s Gull, seen on the 31st. It proved tricky this year [more here].

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Kumlien’s Gull on Barmston Beach

February

An Early Moth found in Cottingham on Travis Road on the 6th was a new one for me [see here].

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Early Moth

March

March was poor for photographs so I’ll settle for my first picture of a Small Tortoiseshell of the year taken at Far Grange.

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Small Tortoiseshell at Far Grange, Skipsea

April

My best photograph of the month was a very showy Cetti’s Warbler at Tophill Low NR that performed close to North Marsh Hide for several days.

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Cetti’s Warbler at North Marsh-Tophill Low NR

May

This month’s photograph is the two Glossy Ibises at North Cave Wetlands NR, taken on the 29th. A site tick for most regulars.

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Glossy Ibises on Dryham Ings-North Cave Wetlands NR

June

This month it’s a Dingy Skipper taken at Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit near Market Weighton on the 5th. A difficult species to see locally and even more to photograph [Full account here].

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Dingy Skipper at Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit

July

Perversely my picture for July is an escaped/released Corn Snake found at High Eske NR on the 25th but it survived to provide material for a light hearted posting in August [see here].

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Corn Snake-High Eske NR

August

August was a good month for waders at Tophill Low NR, had a site tick in the form of Spotted Crake at North Cave Wetlands and some good insects. All these are covered in the blog but the choice goes to the Western Swamp-hen at Minsmere RSPB on the 1st [see here].

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Western Swamp-hen-Minsmere RSPB

September

This month I go for a moth. My first Brick on the 17th.

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Brick-Cottingham

October

October was a mad month, said to be the best rarity wise ever. Oddly I never left Yorkshire but the best bird, for me at least, was the Siberian Accentor at Easington seen the same afternoon as my first Yorkshire Paddyfield Warbler [full account here].

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Siberian Accentor-Vicar’s Lane, Easington

November

November was a waterbird month and represented by this Black-necked Grebe I found at Tophill Low NR on the 22nd [See here].

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Black-necked Grebe on D res at Tophill Low NR

December

The last photograph should have been Dusky Thrush at Beeley but didn’t see it long enough to get a picture on my 1st attempt and not at all on the 2nd [see here]. Therefore the space is filled by Eastern Black Redstart at Skinningrove, with in the historic borders of Yorkshire [see here].

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Eastern Black Redstart-Skinningrove

Top 10 posts of 2016 [viewing figures]

1 The Flamborough/Easington twitch-Paddyfield Warbler and Siberian Accentor

2 Migrants-Kilnsea/Easington including Olive-backed Pipit

Putative Stejneger’s Stonechat at Spurn PointSince confirmed

31/1/16 Kumlien’s Gull at Barmston [for the 4th year?]

Waxwings at last-Hessle Sainsbury’s

Alkborough Flatspre-Western Swamp-hen

The Grey Phalarope at Tophill Low NR

Spotted Crake at North Cave Wetlands

North Cave Wetlands YWTBirds and insects

10 2015 in 12 pictures

Insects hang on at Tophill Low NR

5 Nov

4/11/16 Went to Tophill Low NR with RL on Friday morning. As usual started in car park hide. Scanned D reservoir but no sign of the Smew which hadn’t been reported since late afternoon Sunday. Had visited High Eske NR on Wednesday and it hadn’t return there nor was there any sign of the small Pochard flock that it been part of. However as today the Goldeneye had increased including the first adult drakes. Headed south. Although the weather forecast all week have been full of doom about much colder weather I haven’t yet found it too bad but it was still surprising to see several Common Darter and a Migrant Hawker by South Lagoon.

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Common Darter at Tophill Low NR by South Lagoon.

They were even joined by a Red Admiral.

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Red Admiral at Tophill Low NR by South Lagoon.

Next Watton NR where there were at least eleven Little Egret. The largest number I’ve seen on the borrow pit and included one with colour leg rings. There was a very pale Buzzard feeding over the back. It had a white rump but the tail was largely black with a white band up the middle. When it perched on a post the legs were clearly unfeathered. fullsizeoutput_1a5a

Pale Common Buzzard at Watton NR

Common Buzzards like this have been present for several years and it’s not surprising that they get claimed as Rough-legged Buzzard as well Osprey and Hen Harrier. The only Pink-footed Goose was a rather sickly individual with almost orange legs. Went to Hornsea Mere Seaton Road Hide this afternoon. One Slavonian Grebe and a Tundra Bean Goose were still around this morning but not for us. Did have fifteen Whooper Swans and RL picked out the female-type Common Scoter, which we’d missed on Sunday, close to the south shore. Finished at Swine Moor. Too late for any serious wader passage but there was plenty of water. Present were circa four hundred Wigeon and a smaller number of Teal. Wondered where the Wigeon had got to as there have been very few at High Eske NR so far this autumn.

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.

For Mike’s version check here.

Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR

16 Aug

16/8/16 Tuesday had arranged to go out with RL and ML late morning. Had time for a quick walk in Cottingham to the fields on the corner of Dunswell Road and New Village Road. Had an adult Green Woodpecker again as well family parties of Willow Warbler and Whitethroat.

A Pectoral Sandpiper had been seen by visitors at Tophill Low NR on Monday evening. Its continued presence on South Marsh East was reported just as my friends arrived so we headed that way.

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South Marsh East at Tophill Low NR

Located it pretty quickly from the 1st hide but was distant so after getting a few records shots went round to back-to-back hide where it was closer.

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Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

It was in company with 3 Ruff. Also 3 Greenshank and at least 4 Green Sandpiper.

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Greenshank at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

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Ruff at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

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Green Sandpiper with Teal at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

A Peregrine was circling ominously to the east. A bit worrying as the last Pectoral Sandpiper on 23/9/10 had been taken by a Sparrowhawk while RL and I watched and before RH got there. This one will be a site tick for him! This is my first since one on Swine Moor in October 2014. Last year was my first blank, probably since I first ticked one at Tophill Low NR in September 1990.

Walking back had a few Common Blue Butterflies near South Lagoon, a rare find this year.DSCN2402

Common Blue Butterfly [male above. Female below]

DSCN2406Had a drink in car park hide but nothing of interest on D reservoir. Did North Lagoon on the way out where there were another 3 Green Sandpiper.

Next was High Eske NR. Initially didn’t look good with with all the rocks, old field drains and mummified tree trucks providing plenty of cover but eventually the Little Stint was located along with two Common Sandpiper, Dunlin and a too brief Ruff. We all took loads of pictures but mine were no improvement on yesterday.

Snake rescue at High Eske NR

10 Aug

10/8/16 Wednesday morning went to High Eske NR. Although this is the site I visit most on my own I have a sense of trepidation during the summer holidays and weekends. Although it can a paradise, at this time of year it can be invaded by the barbarians. Canoes, unruly fishermen, swimmers and even speed boats can spoil your day. For August this was a cold day so hopefully this would put off some anti-social activities. Had it to myself initially but wasn’t much to see with just the now common Little Egret and a Greenshank that I couldn’t see and may have just been a fly over. Having checked the pit walked south to check hedge at Eske Manor that often attracts the sort of commoner migrant that appears at this time of year. Only had a few Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Whitethroat that were likely just local breeders. However scanning the fields had a small covey of Grey Partridge. A year tick having yet to see any along Tophill Low NR approach road. Walked back north and round the back of the reserve. Spent some time on Pulfin NR but no sign of the family of Marsh Harrier that had nested in the area. Had a few butterflies including a Painted Lady. Also several Brown and Southern Hawkers.

Two weeks ago I seen a Corn Snake. Had no chance of rescuing it and thought I’d be lucky even to see it again. Amazingly in the same area, near the bridge over the north outlet, there it was again. Initially thought it was likely to be dead, but getting closer it was still moving. Despite it being cold it was more active than the first time.

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“Haven’t I seen you before?” Corn Snake at High Eske NR

Seemed to think it was a Rattlesnake, presumably a survival technique, as if I bothered it it drew it head back as though to strike and ‘rattled’ its tail. This wasn’t purely mimicry as I later found. Now I was stuck what to do as I had nothing to put in. However when I’d posted pictures on Facebook before my friend Mandy had said she could home it if I could catch it. Sent her a text.

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Minutes later Mandy phoned back and was shortly on the way with her father. The snake wasn’t showing any sign of fleeing so I went to look for a bag or somethings, never a problem at this litter strewn ‘beauty spot’. Found a bag but just couldn’t get it in. This is when it proved to be not just kidding.

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Snake bite.

Thought best to give up and wait for Mandy. Gently held it in place with my foot after covering its head with my hat. Although it did try to get away a few times, eventually relaxed was able to leave it unmolested. Shortly Mandy arrived and put me to same by just grabbing it behind the head and although it put up a fight into it in a pillow case.

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Mandy and the Serpent. Clearly an experienced snake wrangler.

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Snake in the bag

Walking back to the farm thought I saw an Otter swimming into the opposite bank of the river but didn’t reappear.

Changes at Tophill Low NR

8 Aug

7/8/16 On Sunday morning with RL and ML had a chance to look round the building site of the new Tophill Low NR visitors centre.DSCN2192

RL and ML at the foot of the access rump to the future visitors centre.

The newly excavated visitors centre pond was already filling with a perceptible flow from the direction of the reservoir, whether a leak or groundwater we’re yet to know.

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RH and LR by the already filling visitors centre pond.

Turf uncovered by the excavation can be dated to 1958 as the original ground level of Tophill Low farm buried by earth from the excavation of D reservoir.

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RH pointing to preserved turf dating from 1958 when the waterworks was built.

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The beginning of the walk way from the future visitors centre. Still under construction this will change the way we navigate the reserve.

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Footings of the future visitors centre.

From the top of the access rump you can get a good view over D reservoir which reassured us that the new visitor centre would be at least as good as the current car park hide which will be removed.

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View of D reservoir from the top of the future visitors centre ramp.

Best to check the official Tophill Low blog for more information and future updates.

Bird-wise there was no real change since my visit on Wednesday. Had a Greenshank, 5 Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper on North Lagoon and another Green Sandpiper on South Marsh East.

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One of two Kingfishers on South Lagoon.

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Little Grebe feeding one of two chicks on South Lagoon.

Again didn’t challenge the Little Egret record, now standing at 24. One individual didn’t make it way under it own steam as after being found exhausted next to the road at Bewholme it was treated at Peel veterinary clinic at Hornsea before being released on the reserve.

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The released Little Egret on South Marsh East now looking a lot cleaner. 

Windy, but had a good number of butterflies in the shelter of O reservoir ditch including my first Small Copper this year.

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Small Copper in O reservoir ditch.

Also of note were two Painted Ladies and a Silver Y.

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Silver Y in O reservoir ditch.

Had sea watch at Atwick this afternoon followed by a quick look at Bewholme Hall pond. Neither produce anything of note. Looked at Swine Moor on the way home but no sign of last weeks Wood Sandpiper with only a Dunlin in it’s place.