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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.

 

Glaucous Gull at Tophill Low NR

5 Jan

4/1/17 On Wednesday had a walk round Willerby Carrs with the dog. A few minor year ticks but the highlight was a Stonechat by Haltemprice Farm. Unfortunately mobile and difficult to get close to.

Year List: 66

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Stonechat at Haltemprice Farm near Hull

5/1/17 Went to Hornsea Mere with ML and RL on Thursday morning. Managed to pick up the two Long-tailed Ducks but distance nearer the south shore. Moved on to Fossehill Pond where there were plenty of gulls but nothing of note. Headed to Tophill Low NR picking up a flock of Grey Partridge near Hutton Cranswick.

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Grey Partridge near Little Common Farm, Cranswick

At Tophill Low NR we headed to the feeders where I got Coal Tit for the year. Next North Marsh where we had the regular experience of been told how well the Otters had shown well earlier. Didn’t give it too long but manage a Water Rail at least. Could hear geese on D reservoir so went to check them from Middle Hide. Only could find a Pink-footed Goose among the Greylags. We were intending to do the gulls anyway so decide to stay put. While waiting for the gulls had two Peregrine over Decoy Fields, hitting the large number of Woodpigeon. The Long-tailed Duck hadn’t been seen for a few days and it was on surprise to find it again under where car park used to be.

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The now gone car park hide with new centre [for more on latter see here].

Although not in great numbers gulls started dropping in. With several white-winged gulls seen in Yorkshire last night they were on our minds and it wasn’t too unexpected when RL said he had got a Glaucous Gull. The juvenile gull was fortunately quite close and although light wasn’t great we all managed to fire off several shots. My first since almost exactly five years ago, again on D reservoir on 15th January 2012.

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Juvenile Glaucous Gull with Common Gull and Greylag Goose on D reservoir-Tophill Low NR

Year List: 74

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

Black-necked Grebe and Smew at Tophill Low NR

25 Nov

25/11/16 On Friday morning, for the second time this week, drew a blank at Hornsea Mere. This time partly due to fisherman to close to the hide. Two Long-tailed Duck have continued to be seen by others off Kirkholme Point. Leaving earlier than planned headed to Tophill Low NR with RL and ML. Checked the gulls at Fosse Hill Jet Ski Pond on the way. The Black-necked Grebe found on Tuesday had moved to O reservoir yesterday. Had a quick look on D reservoir then moved to the O reservoir viewing screen. The grebe was still present so moved round to L-shaped hide for a closer view.fullsizeoutput_1a9b

Black-necked Grebe at Tophill Low NR on O reservoir.

Next to Watton NR hide. Finally had the redhead Smew briefly in cover to the right of the island then full out but still distant to the left before it again drifted behind the island. fullsizeoutput_1a91

Smew with Tufted Duck on Watton NR by Tophill Low NR

Also a pair of Pintail, although hidden by brambles, two Little Egret and at least a dozen Curlew in and out. Didn’t stay to do the gulls.

Late Black-necked Grebe at Tophill Low NR

22 Nov

22/11/16 Went to Tophill Low NR with RL on Tuesday afternoon to do the gull roost. Good number of wildfowl on D reservoir so had a good look through before the gulls started building up. Picked up a small grebe at the top end. Black and white so immediately ruled out Little Grebe. My next thought was Slavonian Grebe as they are the usual inland grebe at this time of year locally but quickly proved to be a Black-necked Grebe. At Tophill Low NR in past they have been regular spring passage birds followed by probable failed breeders through summer then juvenile and post breeders late summer but rare [if ever?] in late autumn. This year though there has only been one earlier record, on the 9th June. Missed this one but had seen a pair at North Cave Wetlands on 7th of June.fullsizeoutput_150f

Black-necked Grebes on Main Lake at North Cave Wetland 7/6/16.

Walked straight road to North Hide seeing several Fieldfare on the way. It was closer and we managed a few reasonable shots of the grebe in fading light. fullsizeoutput_1a8f

Black-necked Grebe at Tophill Low NR on D reservoir

Nothing of note in the roost but the North Hide isn’t the best place to do the it from.dscn3550

Gulls coming into roost at Tophill Low NR

Nothing in the log but this isn’t always reliable as to what has been seen on the reserve. Knew the Smew was still present on Watton NR via RBA at least.dscn3538

The new visitor centre at Tophill Low NR nearing completion

Long-tailed Duck bonanza at Hornsea Mere

15 Nov

14/11/16 Went to High Eske NR on Monday morning. Walking north had seven Whooper Swans on Arram Carrs opposite Leven Canal entrance. Checked Leven Carrs from the river bank then walked the canal as far as Waterloo bridge but no sign of the eight Short-eared Owls seen on Sunday. Usually find late afternoon best for Short-eared Owls but was tied up later [see below]. Weather permitting will try again later in the week.

15/11/16 Went out with RL and ML on Tuesday morning. Started at Hornsea Mere Seaton Road Hide. At this time of day the light makes viewing the south side difficult and we failed to find the Smew in it’s usual place. We did though have the regular White-fronted Goose family swimming out from the shore to the west.fullsizeoutput_1a85

European White-fronted Geese at Hornsea Mere

Later I found another adult among the Greylags off ‘tree island’. Again a Long-tailed Duck appear between us and Swan Island although further out than on Sunday. GB came into the hide and on being shown the duck another three flew past. Although mobile a nice male and the original or a similar bird did show well in front of us later. Also had a late Migrant Hawker over the reeds in front of the hide.fullsizeoutput_1a79

Long-tailed Ducks at Hornsea Mere

fullsizeoutput_1a8aLater I had a Common Scoter flying towards Decoy Bay with a second bird close behind.

Went to Tophill Low NR this afternoon. No sign of the Grey Phalarope since Sunday but a redhead Smew had been seen on Watton NR. Walked south and had a very late Common Darter near South Lagoon [Two Migrant Hawker had been seen at East Pond on Sunday]. However on reaching Watton NR hide there was no sign of the Smew and the bird numbers hinted at a recent disturbance. Did have four Little Egret as well as the pale Common Buzzard.15129456_1232459953477317_1501047782318437426_o

Pale Common Buzzard over Watton Carrs

There had been a good number of ducks on O reservoir but no sign of the Smew there on a second look. Did the roost on D reservoir. No sign of the Smew or any interesting gulls. The Smew may have gone onto the river then returned to Watton NR later but may be worth checking High Eske NR tomorrow. With the small number of Smew this year seems likely the there is just one mobile bird locally, first been seen at High Eske NR on the 30th October then quickly moving to Tophill Low NR then Hornsea Mere.dscn3518

The new Tophill Low NR visitors centre nearing completion.

RIP Holly

My dog Holly following a visit to the vet on Monday afternoon was put down today. She along with Wilbur have occasionally featured in my Hull Valley Blog.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Holly in her prime

Anyone interested moths check, likely the last post this year of, my Cottingham Moth blog.

The Grey Phalarope at Tophill Low NR

9 Nov

9/11/16 Started Wednesday in Hornsea Mere Seaton Road Hide with RL and ML. On Sunday we’d spent a cold but productive few hours there finding Long-tailed Duck and seeing Slavonian Grebe, Common Scoter, European White-fronted Geese and a Pink-footed Goose. Unfortunately bad light and mostly too distant for photography. 14991465_1221957371194242_3986297985049332242_o

Long-tailed Duck at Hornsea Mere-RL 

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Common Scoter at Hornsea Mere-RL 

Also had a Marsh Harrier persistently hovering over an unidentified small duck or grebe which repeatedly dived to get away.14940009_1221985707858075_8585892786404413223_o

Marsh Harrier harassing an unidentified bird at Hornsea Mere-RL 

On Tuesday Smew and Black-necked Grebe had also been reported. Today was also wet and cold. Getting into the hide a drake Pintail and tatty male Goosander were close in.

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Drake Goosander at Hornsea Mere-RL 

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Drake Pintail at Hornsea Mere-RL 

Roy quickly picked up the redhead Smew and Common Scoter but both close to the opposite shore. One Pink-footed Goose was still with the feral geese off Kirkholme Point but saw no other ‘wild’ geese. I found two redhead Goosander, one looking rather small. Later what may have been the smaller ‘goosander’ was seen again and identified as a Red-breasted Merganser. Also surprise to see a small flock of Grey Plover flying west.

Went to Tophill Low NR this afternoon. A Grey Phalarope was found by JB on Tuesday morning. Still reported today at the south end of D reservoir. Couldn’t initially see it from Car park hide but RL shortly found it and we got a few record shots before it again was obscured by the wall.fullsizeoutput_1a64

Grey Phalarope at Tophill Low NR

This is my 3rd Grey Phalarope for Tophill Low NR and two years since the last one in November 2014.

Had a look at Swine Moor on the way back where there was still good numbers of Wigeon and Teal.

If your interested in moths please check my updated Moth Blog