Tag Archives: Little Gull

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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Getting better views of the Purple Heron

2 May

1/5/18 Started Tuesday with a walk round Willerby Carrs with the dog. Quiet on the bird front with still no Willow Warblers in the area but did get my first Speckled Wood butterflies, as in 2017, at the back of Springhead GC.

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Speckled Wood-Springhead GC, Willerby 

Went to Tophill Low NR late afternoon. Had spent a lot of time on Sunday afternoon searching D reservoir for the Black-necked Grebe and again started off in the visitors centre hide. Less windy and from a different direction and the ducks were mostly just below me. The three Little Gulls [adult and two first summer] were still there as well as several Common Terns. Also three Common Sandpipers on the straight wall. Moved to middle hide to check for any birds to too close to the wall to see from the centre but still no sign of the grebe. Next headed for North Marsh to listen for Cuckoo but only heard Sedge and Reed Warbler. Continued north and eventually heard one in North Scrub. As I was up there I thought it worth a quick look at least for the Purple Heron. No one in the hide but birders I had recently seen said it had been just walked out of sight. Saw it fairly quickly but it was distant under the river bank and only showing it’s head and neck briefly. However it was slowly moving towards the back of the pool and eventually came fully out giving better views than I had had on Wednesday. Although still distant the light was good and took several photos before it again walked into cover.

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Purple Heron on Hempholme Meadow-Tophill Low NR

Walked back along the road and had five Yellow Wagtails including my first drab female type. Had a Fox along the road ahead of me but was always distant.

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Fox by D reservoir-Tophill Low NR

Continued on to South Marsh East but again no waders but there were several roosting gull including the Little Gulls.

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First summer Little Gull on South Marsh East-Tophill Low NR

 

After the Beast from the East

12 Mar

5/3/18 Filling the feeders on Monday morning it felt more springlike, helped by my resident Blackcap starting to sing. No sign of the dog so headed to Welton Waters. My first visit of 2018 and with reports of Smew, Scaup and Slavonian Grebe on the opposite side of the Humber at Barton Pits I hoped for something interesting. As usual parked on Myrtle Way and took the path to the across the airfield. A few Curlew there and Skylark singing. Reaching the flood bank set up to scan the airfield and adjacent marsh. A few Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Coot on the marsh and on the recently created ‘scrape’ a few Redshank and Dunlin, the latter a year tick. Walking east had a few Goldeneye on Brough Angling Complex. Next was watersports Pit but this apart from a small number of Mute Swan and Mallrd was empty not helped by a few sailing boats. There were a few Black-headed Gull at the far end and looking closer picked out an adult Little Gull, another species that had been seen in small numbers last week. With little to be gained from continuing east I walked Common Lane. Had a good number of small birds including Bullfinch and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Since taking over, the now, Brough Angling Complex, Hull and District anglers have shown if anything hostility to birders so was pleasantly surprised to see a feeding station set up near the entrance gate, attracting a good number of birds including Reed Bunting and Greenfinch. Had a Cetti’s Warbler singing by the small pond. Walked east along the road to view the area of watersports pit not visible from Common Lane. No new birds but was fortunate that the now two Little Gulls were feeding close in.

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Adult Little Gull-watersports pit, Welton Waters

Walking back to my bike had two Stonechat on the fence enclosing the building site of the new school. Unfortunately while I had my camera out they didn’t return to the fence so had to make do with shooting them through the mesh, perched on vegetation. I had seen one nearby late last year.

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Stonechat-Brough

6/3/18 Tuesday morning headed to High Eske NR hopefully for a more complete coverage that my last visit. Still several Russian White-fronted Geese, although exactly how many I wasn’t sure as despite eight birds flying off, including a bird that may have been a Bean Goose, I again counted the regular seventeen birds on the water.

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Russian White-fronted Geese with Greylag Geese-High Eske NR

An Otter was feeding at the north end but I decided to walk to the south end then around the back. A Cetti’s Warbler was singing in the bushes but didn’t flush the Woodcock that had been seen for a few weeks on Pulfin NR. This time made it to Leven Canal. The two Whooper Swan were still to the west on Arram Carr and found a Stonechat on Leven Carr. Back at High Eske NR the Otter was showing well and also had a drake Pintail with the Wigeon.

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Otter-High Eske NR

A quick look at Swine Moor added Redshank and Golden Plover to the site year list.

7/3/18 On Wednesday the dog went back to his usual routine so had a morning walk. Nothing different from our normal birds but had a very relaxed Brown Rat in Oppy Wood that somehow was missed by the dog, probably too obsessed by Rabbits.

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Brown Rat-Oppy Wood, Cottingham

Was genuinely warm. Headed to North Cave Wetlands in the afternoon. My previous visit had been little more than a twitch of the Green-winged Teal so today I headed up Dryham Lane so to avoid wasting time on it. Found an adult Mediterranean Gull on Main Lake then spent a while waiting with out luck for Siskin by Far Lake.

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Near summer adult Mediterranean Gull-Main Lake, North Cave Wetlands

While checking reedbed was called by SG, from Turret Hide, he had the Green-winged Teal as well an adult Mediterranean Gull [later proved to be a second bird on comparing photos]. I had a good number of Teal which were pushed into the open by a low flying Marsh Harrier so now knew I didn’t need to look at them too well. Joined SG in Turret Hide and were lucky to see the recently regular Barn Owl.

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Drake Green-winged Teal-Island Lake, North Cave Wetlands

On the way out we checked the fields near the entrance and added Red-legged Partridge then a distant Stonechat on Dryham Ings. Had noticed a good number of birds on Church Pond on the way in so stopped to have a look on the way home. Plenty of Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Wigeon and a few Little Grebe. Had a couple of Kingfisher on the far bank, one of which flew closer and was last seen sat high in a large tree, higher than remember seeing one before. Just before SG arrived I found the drake Mandarin that had been resident at the Wetlands all of last year among the tree roots.

9/3/18 After a wet Thursday, Friday morning was again warm and although again like Wednesday turned cooler in the afternoon I headed to Tophill Low NR. Started in the visitor centre and had the Glaucous Gull on the same section of D reservoir straight wall as on my first encounter. Got a record shot and would have tried to get closer walking up the road but it decided to join the other gulls on the reservoir so after a quick look at the feeder without seeing Brambling or Lesser Redpoll by the centre pond I headed south.

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Juvenile Glaucous Gull-D reservoir, Tophill Low NR

Work on South Marsh East had finished and had a few birds, unlike on previous visits this year, including returning Oystercatcher. On Watton NR had three Pintail [two drake and a female] as well as a fly over Marsh Harrier which I saw again on my second visit to South Marsh East. Did the D reservoir gull roost and added Lesser Black-backed Gull but failed with Mediterranean Gull but as the gulls were at the north end of the reservoir so weren’t easy from the centre hide. Also no sign of the Glaucous Gull but it doesn’t always appear in the roost. Had a distant Peregrine over D woods.

 

Great White Egret at North Cave Wetlands

24 Sep

Last year at this time there were enough birds. particularly waders, locally to keep life interesting. So far this month it’s been hard going at my sites. Choose High Eske/Pulfin NR as my Patchwork Challenge site but so far it’s not pay off with many previously tied on birds not yet recorded. Added nothing this week despite visiting every other day. Nearby at Swine Moor it’s been slightly better finding a Garganey on the 21st.

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Garganey-Hornsea Mere

 

However the waders have been disappointing with just Ruff, peaking at 13, and the occasional Dunlin or Redshank.

Did Hornsea Mere on the 21st where a few Little Gulls were still around the jetties and my first returning Pintail off Swan Island.

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Little Gull at Kirkholme Point-Hornsea Mere

Also had two Bearded Tit briefly under Wassand Hide and a late Hobby nearby.

At Tophill Low NR on the 22nd only managed 2-3 Green Sandpiper with a Barnacle Goose [of unknown origin] on Watton NR.

On walk to Creykebeck substation with Wilbur on the 23rd was bit of a raptor-fest, the highlights being a Hobby hitting finches at Lawns Farm and Peregrine near Millhouse Woods Lane pumping station, although the latter may have had jesses.

Sunday morning I had planned to do Welton Waters in hope of seeing a few Bearded Tit. However got a text from SG about a Great White Egret at North Cave Wetlands. Not even a year tick but although there are a few previous records it would be a site tick for me. Didn’t panic though waiting for The Andrew Marr Show to end. Getting there the Egret had gone over the bank to the back of Main Lake. As distant as it was possible to be but did my best with the camera.

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Great White Egret on Main Lake-North Cave Wetlands

Some debate about whether it was the bird recently seen at Tophill Low NR [see here] but I remember the one I’d seen having pale legs when the current birds are almost black. There have been several records recently anyway including one at Hornsea Mere the same day I was last there. Moved on to Crosslands Hide, usually the best chance for waders, but was very quiet. In fact apart from Lapwing the only waders on site were the large number of Snipe on Island Lake and a brief Dunlin.

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Snipe on Island Lake-North Cave Wetlands

Had earlier seen a falcon, more likely Peregrine than Hobby, spooking everything off the north fields.

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!

 

Black Terns are like buses……

2 Sep

30/8/16 A Western Purple Swamphen was founded found at Alkborough Flats early Tuesday afternoon. The thought of getting straight off and beating the crowds passed my mind but having already seen the Minsmere bird at the start of the month and a juvenile Black Tern present since this morning at Hornsea Mere, a bird I’d not seen for nearly three years, proved more tempting. I’d actually done Alkborough Flats on Sunday with JH anyway and as he and ML both need the Swamphen it’s likely on the agenda for Sunday if it doesn’t repeat the Minsmere bird and leave overnight on Friday. Anyway back to Hornsea Mere. Arriving at Kirkholme Point there was no sign of any {real] birders nor the tern. Fortunately met up with ST and assured it did go missing for long times and eventually and picked it up distantly behind tree island and wasn’t too long before it flew back to Kirkholme Point with four Little Gulls [number of the later still well below previous years with a hundred times that number not usual at this time in the past. Don’t know if anyone is counting the evening pre-roost currently.

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Juvenile Black Tern at Hornsea Mere from Kirkholme Point 

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Little Gull at Hornsea Mere from Kirkholme Point

Next went to North Cliff Boat Club. First checked the set-aside to the north for migrants then did a sea-watch but not really the right winds for either. Strangely did have a Black Tern followed shortly by another two that lingered for a while giving me time to be sure I wasn’t ‘moulding birds’ [RL will understand this term!]. Like buses…. Otherwise a single Fulmar was the best bird, although a few years back they would have been a common sight.

Paid a quick visit to the Seaton Road Hide [see here for access details to keep GB off my back] but couldn’t see the tern or any Little Gulls, in fact couldn’t see much. Some guerrilla conservation may be needed if Wassand Estate don’t do something soon. The only notable ‘wildlife’ was a young couple ‘at it’ in the adjacent field. Decency  and the real possibility they were underage kept my hand from the camera.

1/9/16 Had another look at the Black Tern with RL on Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately it was frequenting the south side and only came close to Kirkholme Point while RL was buying an ice cream. We finished the day doing a sea-watch with JH off Far Grange. Although nothing special the number of Common Terns early evening were impressive. 14125702_1159611220762191_2063226160474370919_o

Sandwich Tern [above]. Gannet [below] off Far Grange-RL 

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Red-throated Diver off Far Grange-RL 

10/4/16-Nice ‘start to spring at Tophill Low NR

10 Apr

Spring for me has been slow so far. After a good start over Easter weekend adding Chiffchaff, Little Ringed Plover and three hirundines I have struggle since only managing to add Blackcap in Cottingham this Saturday evening.

Year list 134

Early Sunday morning I was messaged about a male Redstart at Tophill Low NR by South Marsh West. A rare bird for the site and I’ve only seen two in over twenty years. RL had intended visiting the reserve anyway but this would be a nice bonus. However on arriving mid morning it seemed it may not have been seen since early on. Walking south had our first Willow Warbler, singing weakly near East Pond. Fortunately nearing L-shaped hide were told by the “workers” that the Redstart was showing again. Joined DV and although more distant than when first seen did manage to get some usable shots.

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♂.Redstart-Tophill Low NR-South Marsh West

Also a pair of Little Ringed Plover on South Marsh West, the male aggressively keeping a Redshank off it’s territory.

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Little Ringed Plover-Tophill Low NR-South Marsh West

Eventually got bored of trying to get better pictures of the chat and moved to Watton NR hide. Had another two Willow Warblers in South Scrub. Unfortunately no sign of the Egyptian Geese seen earlier, present since last Sunday and maybe the same birds previously at North Cave Wetlands. Did have 58 Curlew, a good count in spring. Also 2 Little Egrets.

Moved on to South Marsh East, starting in ‘back2back’ hide. Picked up the Ruff that had been lingering for a few days. It was walking around with one of 6 Redshank.DSCN0180

Ruff with Redshank-Tophill Low NR-South Marsh East

Also another Little Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher. Had a Little Gull flying in from the north. Joined by RL, who had hadn’t seen the Redstart since I left it, and moved to the other hide where the Little Gull was much closer.

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First winter Little Gull-Tophill Low NR-South Marsh East

Surprised, at this early date and it still being quite cool, that there were several Marsh Frogs in the aquatic vegetation below the hide.

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Marsh Frogs-Tophill Low NR-South Marsh East

ML arrived and we went back to L-shaped hide where the Redstart showed again shortly. Had the Little Gull high over the marshes.

Had lunch in carpark hide. Nothing special on D reservoir but a good number of Sand Martin with two Swallow feeding over it.

Went to check a local Little Owl site.

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Little Owl-East Yorkshire

Finally did Swine Moor. Nothing new but still good numbers of Teal and a few Redshank and Golden Plover. Still early and plenty of water so a good spring passage should be expected. Hopefully there won’t be a repeat of last years drainage.

Year List 136.