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Winter wildfowl at High Eske NR

27 Oct

25/10/16 Tuesday was a frustrating day. In a the morning a mobile Pine Bunting was seen at  Spurn Point finally long enough to identify at Westmere Farm before flying off never to be seen again. A bogey bird for me. Then early afternoon a probable Eastern Black Redstart was reported at Easington cemy. Had seen one on Holy Island in November 2011 but missed the Scalby bird in late in 2014.

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Eastern Black Redstart-Holy Island

Decided to go to Welton Waters so as not to waste the day hanging around but not too difficult to twitch from if confirmed. Unfortunately it was after dark before further news. In the meantime had a fairly quiet afternoon. As of recently Welton Water was a disappointment although as it was still mild I had a few Common Darter.dscn3314

Common Darter near Brough Angling Complex

Walked the full circuit of the pits which meant I got back to the airfield near dusk. On the section of foreshore visible near the airfield I added five Bar-tailed Godwits to the Black-tailed I’d seen earlier as well as two Dunlin. Further on I found to Stonechat roosting in the reeds, a year tick. By this time the Starlings were pouring into the Brough Airfield Marsh reeds. I am useless with anything over a few hundred but met GD coming the other way. having followed the murmuration from North Cave Wetlands, and we agree there were ten of thousands. Unfortunately he’d missed the two Marsh Harriers that had cause some excitement among the Starlings earlier.

27/10/16 Tuesday seems to have been the last blast of the the current east coast migrate extravaganza which was a bit of a relief as I wasn’t feeling to good on Wednesday however on Thursday I felt fit enough to go to High Eske NR mid afternoon. I’d had a solitary Whooper Swan there at dusk on Sunday so wasn’t surprised to see it among the Greylags feeding in the fields as I walked down from High Eske Farm.fullsizeoutput_1a31

Whooper Swan with feral Greylag-High Eske Farm

They all flew onto the borrow pit as I passed then later to fields just south of Leven Canal. Other than the geese the wildfowl number are still low with only Tufted Duck reaching over a hundred with the rest barely in double figures. A redhead Goosander was new in and there were now three Goldeneye. I’d had thirteen Russian White-fronted Geese during the big goose movement mid month. Walked the perimeter but added little then headed to Leven Canal. Passing the goose flock found the single Pink-footed Goose that is currently with them. Had little on Leven Carrs so headed back south to check the pit before it got too dark. Surprised to see the Whooper on it’s own back at the farm then onto the pit. In the fading light was pleased to see a Long-tailed Duck, only my second for the site in thirty years.fullsizeoutput_1a30

Long-tailed Duck in the dark-High Eske NR

Had a few Little Egrets flying in. Didn’t equal the eight from Sunday, all from the south, but did see that they were dropping in at the turtle pool.dscn3330

Sunset at High Eske NR

Brough Haven/Welton Waters

9 Aug

9/8/16 Went to Brough Haven on Tuesday morning. Over the 30 years I’ve worked the area it has had some decent birds including American and Pacific Golden Plovers and Pectoral Sandpiper as well as good numbers of less rare waders among them the Yorkshire Little Stint record. Unfortunately recent years have seen much of the mudflats grown over banishing the thousands of waders once seen at this time. I also suspect realignments including the relatively close Alkborough Flats have provides a better draw for birds. Lastly there just doesn’t seem that many waders these days.

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Brough Haven close to high tide.

Arriving the tide was very high but a small area mud at the entrance to the haven had probably the best flock I’ve seen there for a while with 15 Ringed Plover accompanied by 4 Dunlin.

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Ringed Plover and a Dunlin at Brough Haven

The forecast wasn’t too promising so set off east towards Brough Airfield then Welton Waters immediately, along the path we jokingly called “even longer drag” in tribute to the area now covered by Saltholme Pools RSPB on Teesside. Three Common Sandpipers were roosting on the wooden ‘pier’, as they regularly do on autumn passage.

Last visit the reedbed was full of Reed Buntings as well as Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler and this year joined by a good number of Bearded Tit, but post breeding there was little to see or hear. Had a Painted Lady but didn’t bother to stop for a picture with them being numerous this year. Also a few Common Darter and Brown Hawker.

Reaching Airfield Marsh, apart from the resident Greylags, there were c75 Lapwing and 18 Curlew sitting out the high tide. No sign of any Marsh Harrier though. Like the haven this area has also declined in interest with the reedbed becoming too extensive and only a small area of water visible with none of the muddy edges where passage waders and Garganey used to be seen. On the positive site though some important bird do breed in the reeds.

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Black clouds over Brough Airfield Marsh.

It was looking black towards the west so only risked a quick look at the pits at Welton Waters before heading back. The rest of the week looks better so may get back for a proper look. Only birds seen were a family party of Mute Swans on both Brough Angling complex and watersports pit.

The weather held with the blackest clouds moving to the east so had time to scan the Humber to the west from the Haven. No Marsh Harrier towards Crabley Creek but the bulk of the Whitton Sands Barnacle Goose population seemed to be in the area.

The weather broke not long after I got in.

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