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Mid summer at Tophill Low NR

2 Jul

2/7/18 After the heat of Sunday I had an early start at Tophill Low NR. Unlike last Tuesday, when the reserve was in thick fog, it was fine and already feeling warm. Having caught up with Kingfisher on North Marsh last week I headed south.

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Kingfisher at Tophill Low NR on North Marsh-26/6/18

No birds on O reservoir. On Watton NR three pairs of Common Tern were still sitting on the raft although still no sign of any chicks. No sign of yesterday’s eleven Black-tailed Godwits on South Marsh East but had twenty-two, mostly adult, Little Gulls roosting.

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Little Gulls at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

Also found a Snipe, my first on site this year, with another three seen from the other hide. Met DV and JB manning the visitor’s centre. JB had had a Black-necked Grebe at the far end of D reservoir. Eventually re-found it but was more a ‘can’t be anything else’ than a good view so moved round to Middle hide where though still distant at least the ID was not in doubt.

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Black-necked Grebe with Tufted Duck at Tophill Low NR on D res.

Had a quick look at North Marsh where Kingfishers had been seen earlier then moved on to Hempholme Meadows where there was nothing of note. Walked back along the straight road but saw no Yellow Wagtail. Back at the centre I discovered that I had missed an Osprey while I had been in Hempholme Meadows hide. Better news was a few of the Black-tailed Godwits had returned. Headed back to South Marsh East where six godwits were close to back-to-back hide but the Little Gulls had gone.

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Black-tailed Godwit at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

They weren’t feeding over the reservoir but may had been nearby over the river. Managed to see my first Common Tern chick of the year. Had seen a few dragonflies earlier mainly Black-tailed Skimmer and now it was truly warm added Four-spotted Chaser, South Hawker and Emperor.

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Male Black-tailed Skimmer at Tophill Low NR

Plenty of butterflies including Common Blue, Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Small and Large Skipper. Also had my first Six-spot Burnet Moth of the year.

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Six-spot Burnet Moth at Tophill Low NR

 

 

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Moths and Butterflies so far.

2 May

After the near total failure in the past to catch any moths early/late in the year I didn’t trap after the temperatures dropped early November and wasn’t tempted to try again until early spring. My first moth was a Brown House Moth in the bathroom on 9th January.

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Brown House Moth-Hofmannophila pseudospretella

My first attempt at trapping was during the mild spell after the “Beast from the East” on 10th March when I caught nothing. The weather returned to generally cold including the “Mini Beast’ until early April and my next trapping was 7th April when I caught four Common Quaker, two Early Grey, two Beautiful Plume and a Brown House Moth.

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Beautiful Plume-Amblyptilia acanthadactyla

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Early Grey-Xylocampa areola

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Common Quaker-Orthosia gracilis

 

 

Had seen a few Small Tortoiseshell earlier but didn’t get one to sit still until the 14th.

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Small Tortoiseshell

That night trapped Clouded Drab and Small Quaker.

 

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Clouded Drab-Orthosia cerasi

 

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Small Quaker-Orthosia cruda

On the 15th had my first Comma, just outside my house.

 

 

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Comma-Cottingham

Had my first Peacock at Tophill Low NR the 16th.

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Peacock-Tophill Low NR

On the 17th trapped three Common Quaker, Hebrew Character, Early Grey and a Herald.

 

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Herald-Scoliopteryx libatrix

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Hebrew Character-Orthosia gothica

On the 19th found my first Holly Blue by fields north of Cottingham KGV Rec. Unusually it was in grass like a Common Blue instead of flying high in Holly.

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Holly Blue-Cottingham

Didn’t run the trapped again in April as it was cold and windy but did add Twenty-plume Moth in the kitchen on the 25th.

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Twenty-plume Moth-Alucita hexadactyla

On the 27th found my first Green-veined White in Cottingham on Bluebells along Wood Lane. Was easily photographed as the cold had stupefied it.

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Green-veined White on Bluebells-Cottingham

On the 1st May I photographed my first Speckled Wood in Willerby at the back of Springhead GC, as I did in  2017.

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Speckled Wood-Springhead GC, Willerby

Seen plenty of Brimstone butterflies but as any who is interested in butterflies know they rarely stop flying!

2017 in 12 pictures

2 Jan

Intro

The beginning of the year was interesting, reflexed in the number of posts, but in contrast to 2016 there was a very poor return wader passage followed by a predominance of westerly winds leading to little interest on the Yorkshire coast then winter has, so far, been very poor for rarer wildfowl. Thus the blog has been quiet the second half of the year. I have not posted in Cottingham Moths this year. I started but due to technical problems lost the first post and never bothered starting again. It was a poor year anyway but a few highlights will feature below. I hope to start again next year, maybe with a different approach.

January

Although not a great picture this shot of the male Hooded Merganser at Barr Loch, Renfrewshire on the 21st was a desperate tick for me. Only seen two previous but the first in Nottinghamshire [can’t remember the date!] was an obvious escape on first site, the second at Scaling Dam, Cleveland felt more reliable initially but was quickly deemed an escape also. Always a tricky one to judge but this one had been around a few weeks and hadn’t given any reason to be damned. Also having arrived in late 2016 I only had to wait 9 months for the BBRC to deem it kosher.

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Drake Hooded Merganser-Barr Loch,Renfrewshire-21/1/17

February

In a fairly quiet month February I go for a mammal in a Short-tailed Field Vole at Raywell. See here for the full account.

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Short-tailed Field Vole-Wauldby Scrogs, Raywell

March

Two close contenders for this month but as one appears in the”top ten viewed posts” for the year I will go for the male Pine Bunting at Dunnington near York. One of my bogey birds having had untickable views of one in South Yorkshire and missed another at Filey after it was flushed by a dog then for the fields to be shut, like much of the country, because of Foot and Mouth. Originally saw the bird in January, a few days after it had been found, on the way back from the Hooded Merganser. Wasn’t too happy with the views, in fact wondered whether I should have counted my first unticked bird, but a return visit 7th March provide much better views when it showed regularly in a hedge with finches and buntings in good weather and to a smaller less excited crowd with no-one flushing the bird in an attempt to get the best shot.

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Male Pine Bunting-Dunnington, N.Yorks.

April

April was poor for birds so Shoulder Stripe moth caught on the 9th, a first for me, is this month’s picture

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Shoulder Stripe moth

May

Early 2017 was very good for white-winged gulls so with little else of note this month I go for the Iceland Gull that give great views at Hornsea Mere from Kirkholme Point for a few weeks in May and June.

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Juvenile Iceland Gull-Hornsea Mere

June

Best bird this month was Black-browed Albatross at Bempton Cliffs RSPB. Missed one in October 2016, setting off too late for the Eastern Crowned Warbler, which was followed by several fly throughs but none lingering in 2016 before one on 28th June decided to hang on long enough for RL and I to make a less than hectic trip and despite it departing as we reached the cliff top gave us tickable but not photographical views. Also earlier in the months on the 11th saw Elegant Tern at Pagham Harbour which was beyond useful photographic range. Had seen one in Ireland at Lady’s Island Lake,Co.Wexford in July 1999 so a UK tick but as this one was previously ringed France also a known Elegant Tern. Had two new moths durning the month so the more photogenic, Scorched Wing is this month’s picture.

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Scorched Wing moth

July

Probably the best month of 2017. My choice is the Pacific Golden Plover at North Cave Wetlands on 21st. A site tick and my first since the Brough Haven bird almost 17 years to the day. Full account here.

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Pacific Golden Plover-North Cave Wetlands

August

This month’s picture is another moth [making up for not posting in Cottingham Moths this year!] This Magpie Moth was found in hedgerow north of Millbeck Wildlife area in Cottingham on 11th. A first for me and the Marsh Harrier that flew over at the same time was my first for the village.

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Magpie Moth-Cottingham

September

This month it’s the Ryhope Scops Owl. The Lewis American Redstart was the other candidate but the fact the owl was totally self twitched pushes it to the front. Full account here.

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Scops Owl-Ryhope, Co.Durham

October

Although a let down compared with last year October still offered a few choices. If I’d got a picture of the Richardson’s Cackling Goose at Budle Bay, Northumberland, that would have been the obvious choice, but without the Great White Egret at High Eske NR is the the next best, being surprisingly my first for the site and only the second certain record despite the number of records just north at Tophill Low NR. First seen on the 3rd, the photograph was taken on the 7th. Found another at North Cave Wetlands on the 4th where the possibility of it being the same bird continuing south did cross my mind but but subsequent multiple sighting the area proved this unlikely. Only added the species to the latter site list on 24th September.

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Great White Egret-R.Hull N.of High Eske NR.

November

This month it’s a Little Egret, not a rare bird but still an unusual bird to see in your local park. Taken on the 7th it was often seen along a drain by Millhouse Woods Lane Water Works in Cottingham until the freeze in early December [including some non birder fellow dog walkers]. Possibly a different bird was seen on the other side of the village in fields south of Haltemprice Farm in December.

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Little Egret-Millbeck Wildlife area, Cottingham

December

Little choice with the last one as the pair of Stonechat present in Willerby at Haltemprice Farm {Abbey} ruin since October were the only nature photographs I took this month. The species winter here most years. More here.

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Stonechat-Haltemprice Farm, Willerby

Top 10 posts of 2017 [viewing figures]

1. Birding from the new Tophill Low NR Visitors Centre

2. Scops Owl in Co.Durham

3. Eastern Lesser Whitethroat in Cottingham

4. Stejnegers Stonechat at Spurn Point From 2016 likely boosted by the Stonechat’s upgrade to full species from 2018

5. Scarborough A day of winter birding with plenty to see.

6. Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR Another from 2016 reflecting the interest in the site. No Pec Sand in 2017!

7. Eastern Black Redstart in Skinningrove From the end of December 2017 so most of the interest was in early 2017.

8. Geese at Hornsea Mere

9. Great White Egret and other stuff at Tophill Low NR

10. Twitching Waxwing with Wilbur A dog-walk/twitch to Hull.

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.

 

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

Little Stint at High Eske NR

15 Aug

15/8/15 Monday the moth trap catch was again poor with only Canary-shouldered Thorn of interest.

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Canary-shouldered Thorn-Cottingham

With nothing to detain me got to High Eske NR reasonably early. Hopefully less hectic than last visit. The water level was low and the summer islands were showing. At one time these islands were above water most of the summer and Common Tern bred but due to winter erosion and higher water levels in recent wet summers they only appear occasionally. An initial scan only found a juvenile Common Tern, with likely one of its parents on a nearby post. Started checking the wildfowl. Found a possible Garganey but it was asleep. Getting tired of watching it I scanned the islands again and quickly found a juvenile Little Stint with a Ringed Plover.

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Juvenile Little Stint with Ringed Plover-High Eske NR

The only my previous record of Little Stint, I recall, was during the influx in 1996. In fact this is my first record since one on Swine moor in September 2014. No hope of one there currently as the site dried out last week.

Walked north to Leven Carrs as I hadn’t checked it last week. Nothing doing so walked back south and around the western NR path.

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Southern Hawker-High Eske NR

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Ringed Plover with Lapwing-High Eske NR

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High Eske NR ‘summer islands’ from western path.

The Little Stint and Ringed Plover were still on the island now joined by two Dunlin and  a Common Sandpiper flew in.

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Little Stint, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper-High Eske NR

A Sparrowhawk got the Lapwing up but the other waders stayed put and were all present when I left mid afternoon.

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Common Carpet moth-High Eske NR