Tag Archives: Watton NR

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.

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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.

Insects hang on at Tophill Low NR

5 Nov

4/11/16 Went to Tophill Low NR with RL on Friday morning. As usual started in car park hide. Scanned D reservoir but no sign of the Smew which hadn’t been reported since late afternoon Sunday. Had visited High Eske NR on Wednesday and it hadn’t return there nor was there any sign of the small Pochard flock that it been part of. However as today the Goldeneye had increased including the first adult drakes. Headed south. Although the weather forecast all week have been full of doom about much colder weather I haven’t yet found it too bad but it was still surprising to see several Common Darter and a Migrant Hawker by South Lagoon.

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Common Darter at Tophill Low NR by South Lagoon.

They were even joined by a Red Admiral.

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Red Admiral at Tophill Low NR by South Lagoon.

Next Watton NR where there were at least eleven Little Egret. The largest number I’ve seen on the borrow pit and included one with colour leg rings. There was a very pale Buzzard feeding over the back. It had a white rump but the tail was largely black with a white band up the middle. When it perched on a post the legs were clearly unfeathered. fullsizeoutput_1a5a

Pale Common Buzzard at Watton NR

Common Buzzards like this have been present for several years and it’s not surprising that they get claimed as Rough-legged Buzzard as well Osprey and Hen Harrier. The only Pink-footed Goose was a rather sickly individual with almost orange legs. Went to Hornsea Mere Seaton Road Hide this afternoon. One Slavonian Grebe and a Tundra Bean Goose were still around this morning but not for us. Did have fifteen Whooper Swans and RL picked out the female-type Common Scoter, which we’d missed on Sunday, close to the south shore. Finished at Swine Moor. Too late for any serious wader passage but there was plenty of water. Present were circa four hundred Wigeon and a smaller number of Teal. Wondered where the Wigeon had got to as there have been very few at High Eske NR so far this autumn.

Another Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR

17 Sep

The second Pectoral Sandpiper of the year for Tophill Low NR was again found by visitors on a Monday. Went to check it out with RL on Tuesday. Still present on South Marsh East but too distant for a reasonable picture.14311254_1170391073017539_5739176024044637117_o

Ruff and Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East-RL

17/9/16 Went back to Tophill Low NR with MB on Saturday morning. The Pectoral Sandpiper hadn’t been reported since Wednesday but was in the log for Friday. Started with North Lagoon. Three Greenshank were there on Tuesday but initially no waders today but a Ruff dropped in. On South Marsh East the sandpiper hadn’t been seen but I picked it up far off with Teal. No sign of the two Ruff it had accompanied on Tuesday. Went round to back-2-back hide where it should be closer but wasn’t currently on show so headed to Watton NR. The usual mass of Greylags but also three Little Egrets and a sign of autumn with flocks of Golden Plover circling Watton Carrs. Back at South Marsh East the Pectoral Sandpiper was showing well enough for a picture but often hidden behind vegetation.dscn2922

Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

A second look at North Lagoon found a Greenshank and Dunlin.

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Greenshank at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

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Ruff and Dunlin at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

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Pied Wagtail at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon 

With weather more seasonal after the heatwave earlier this week it wasn’t surprising a Comma near South Marsh East was our only butterfly of the morning and we also only had a few Migrant Hawkers.dscn2912

Comma at Tophill Low NR

Walking the north end in the afternoon we did better with several Speckled Woods in D wood and a few Small Whites in North Scrub as well as many Common Darter on the path near Hempholme Meadows. Bird-wise it was poor but redeemed by an approachable Wheatear along straight road and a fly over male Marsh Harrier.dscn2967

North Wheatear at Tophill Low NR by D reservoir

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The current status of the new visitor centre. Check the Tophill blog for more details.

For Mike’s version check here.

Little Stint at Tophill Low NR

25 Aug

25/8/16 Went to Tophill Low NR with RL and ML on Thursday morning. A Little Stint was found by JL on Wednesday evening and fortunately still present on North Lagoon this morning.

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Little Stint at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

Only one Curlew Sandpiper today as well as sixteen Ruff, two Greenshank and two Common Sandpiper. A Ringed Plover flew over.

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Curlew Sandpiper and Ruff at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

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Grey Wagtail at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

Little else reported from the rest of the reserve. After lunch in car park hide we headed to do some work on Watton NR but were accosted on route by a birder who reported a Great White Egret on there. Abandoned our wheelbarrows and went to the borrow pit hide but no sign of an egret. However when we got to the pit a Little Egret got up with the geese.

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Watton NR [Little Egret is the white dot left of the public hide].

Cleared the Ragwort, not too arduous as regular pulling over the years is doing its job.

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Ragwort in the wheelbarrow.

Finishing that we hacked down the vegetation threatening to obscure the view from the public hide.

Walking back late afternoon checked North Lagoon again. All present with the addition of a Dunlin. The Curlew Sandpiper was very close but light wasn’t too good. Torrential rain as we left.

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.

 

31/1/16 Kumlien’s Gull at Barmston [for the 4th year?]

31 Jan

Sunday morning went to Barmston with JH. Met JS on the cliff top. Hadn’t seen the Kumlien’s Gull yet but had yet to check beach to the north where it usually was seen. Walked to where I could get a full view of the beach north of the caravan park but the tide was close to high and there were no gulls on the beach. However there was a good passage of Herring Gulls moving south so kept an eye them while also checking for birds on the sea. Only had a few Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes. The gull movement slowed and was thinking about moving on when I noticed some agitation from two birders nearby. Was moving towards them as they called me. Quickly picked up the Kumlien’s flying over the beach from the the north. Went for my camera but aren’t too good at aerial shots so wasn’t expecting much.

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4th winter Kumlien’s Gull over Barmston beach.

Flew past us towards the outfall. Was glad to have seen it but had hoped for some better shots. Fortunately came back north and eventually settled on the beach were I got several better shots.

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4th winter Kumlien’s Gull-Barmston

Having got my fill checked the waders to the south. Nearly fifty Dunlin but only a few Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Sanderling and no sign of any Purple Sandpipers on the rocks.

Year list 108.

The Kumlien’s Gull was first seen in December 2012. Originally reported as a first winter Iceland Gull it’s dark appearance alerted birders, including Martin Garner, [sad to learn Martin is no longer around to share his knowledge] to the possibility of it being a Kumlien’s. This was confirmed on it’s return in December 2013. There was no sign of it the following winter but a 3rd winter Iceland Gull was seen at Barmston around Easter. This proved elusive but I had a bird fitting the description at Hornsea Mere on 12th April. It was distant but I was left with the feeling “Why isn’t this the Kumlien’s?”.

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3w Iceland Gull at Hornsea Mere-12/4/15 

Worth noting that this time of year, as both a 1st and 2nd winter, the Kumlien’s had showed bleached primaries and wasn’t readily split from an Iceland Gull [see here]. Finally this year it was seen at Hornsea Mere on Kirkholme Point on the afternoon of Sunday 19th January. Annoyingly I’d been at other end at Wassand Hide all morning but had decided to head to Tophill Low NR early afternoon. Checked Barmston the following Sunday and then Tuesday morning so today was third time lucky.

Here are some better pictures taken last week by Tony Dixon.Kumlien's Gull 001

Kumlien’s Gull at Barmton-Tony Dixon

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Headed for Hornsea Mere late morning. Checked the fields near Skirlington Market where I’d seen a White-fronted Goose and five Pink-footed Geese with Greylags on Tuesday but no sign today.

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Greylag Geese near Skirlington Market-26/1/16-with White-fronted Goose [above] and Pink-footed Geese [below].

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Had a drake Goosander off Kirkholme Point, my first this year, but couldn’t find anything else, not helped by the heavy drizzle.

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Drake Goosander off Kirkholme Point, Hornsea Mere

Year list 109.

Decided to head for Tophill Low NR instead of Wassand Hide.

Refound the drake Scaup seen yesterday then headed south. A Little Egret was showing well on North Lagoon but no surprise after seeing 19 of them nearby north of High Eske NR on Monday.

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Little Egret on North Lagoon, Tophill Low NR.

Saw nothing else of note but missed a drake Pintail on Watton NR. Had a look for Woodcock behind the old centre but gave up because of heavy drizzle. Lack of any recent interesting gulls didn’t encourage us to hang on till dusk.