Tag Archives: Siskin

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.


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.


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.



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.



Annual pilgrimage to Bempton Cliffs RSPB and Wykeham raptor viewpoint

14 Jun

10/6/15 To many birders Bempton Cliffs RSPB is seen as a tourist trap best avoided except for the occasional migrant. However with the perfusion of digital camera many of us are tempted with the proximity of birds, usually seen as mere dots from sea watch sites, to pay an annual visit. This is what JH and I did on Wednesday with the hope it might not be too busy. On arrival it was clear even mid-week isn’t quiet with volunteers even needed to control parking. The bulk of visitors as expected were the retired along with several mini-bus loads of school day-trippers. DSCN7324

JH walking towards the new visitor centre

This was my first sight of the new visitors centre and after all the hype was surprised that it didn’t seem significantly bigger although the toilet facilities were now up to motorway service area standards. I remember the little kiosk from my first visits in the 80’s. However this wasn’t a visit to read information boards so it was straight to the cliffs.


The famous Gannet arch.


The only Puffin with in range and it never stirred!

DSCN7329Kittiwake looking away..


…that’s better!




Nesting Herring Gulls


Guillemots on the sea


Gannets and Guillemots


Gannet nests.


Fulmar nest


Gannets in flight

Having got the shots we headed to Wykeham raptor viewpoint. Not my first visit as I’d been on the 13th May with JH and RL after twitching the Balearic Woodchat Shrike. Then it was too early for Honey Buzzards. Also there last Sunday but it was a no show at least while we were there but patience ran out early.


Balearic Woodchat Shrike-Wykeham

As we arrived were told we’d just missed them so suspected we would have a long wait for a return pass. However JH and I were happy for a relaxing sit.


View from Wykeham raptor viewpoint.

While we waited had plenty of other birds to keep us occupied. Several Common Buzzard were displaying joined briefly by a distant Goshawk. Also regular Siskin in flight and in trees below us, a small flock of Crossbill flew over and best of all a Tree Pipit singing in a bush just below the watchpoint. Not long before we planned to pack up I picked up a large raptor flying in from the left on flat wings. This ruled out Common Buzzard and only really Honey or a large female Goshawk were considered. As it got closer it a rolled slightly showing a largely white underwing with black  primaries and I was confident it could only be a Honey Buzzard and gave the call to get everyone else on it. Was joined by a second bird and although not the full butterfly display did gave a few slow stiff wing flaps. Also as the first bird disappeared to the right saw it doing the kite-like tail twist also good for Honey Buzzard. Job done. Amazingly this is only my third sighting in 25 years as we just don’t normally have the patience [or luck] needed.


The watcher not the watched

Fen Bog and Transmire Bog

28 Jul

Following an aborted trip last year and with a prolonged period of hot weather Roy and I decided to head up to North Yorkshire for Keel Skimmer on Monday 22 July. Initially didn’t look too good with low cloud but this burnt off before reaching Fen Bog. The car park is easily found off A169 almost opposite the Flyingdales RAF base [remember the iconic golf balls  but don’t know what the current structure is known as] and just south of the turn off to Gouthland. For details check here. Immediately found several fritillary butterflies, but checking the picture later were only Small Pearl Bordered, only one I’ve previously seen.

Image 2

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary-Fen Bog

Also our 1st Keeled Skimmer.


Keeled Skimmer-female-Fen Bog-my only picture due to battery failure. All others are Roy’s.

On entering the reserve proper immediately had a male Keeled Skimmer which was very settled, only flying to defend it’s territory from another male.

Image 3

Keeled Skimmer-male-Fen Bog

Also had a “hawker” presumed to be Southern. Only birdlife was Swallow, Chaffinch and Meadow Pipit. The North Yorkshire Railway passes the edge of the reserve so we had regular sightings of steam locomotives.

Moved on to Transmire where we had several close sightings of Golden-ringed Dragonflies on the stream. Good for me as I’d only had flight views previously.

Image 1

Golden-ringed Dragonfly-Tranmire Bog

Transmire itself is quite inconspicuous as it’s only a small depression close to the stream. It’s only on closer inspection you discover it’s boggy. Check here for directions. Several more Keeled Skimmers here, including a female found by Roy in grass, as described in the books. Also a good Southern Hawker.

Image 5

Keeled Skimmers-Transmire-male above, female below.

Image 4

Much better birding with, as well as Chaffinch and Meadow Pipit, a family party of Grey Wagtail and a few Siskin including a very bright male.



Again a few Small Pearl Border Fritillaries.

[Editorial note-Any regular visitors to this blog will hopefully notice an improvement in picture quality as I’ve found the button that increases the size. Also anyone following my New York trip report can relax as I will post another episode soon.]