Sunday, 16 November 2014

Every cloud a grey lining

Whilst the weather may have been dull and murky of late there was plenty to celebrate in grey.  The nest box team found this grey phalarope on Tuesday; thanks to Roy Lyon for these shots.
It was assumed disappeared (but likely here all along as so miniscule) until relocated by Lee Johnson on Friday night (along with a 3rd Caspian gull of the year) and has shown on D res all weekend - thanks to Martin Hodges for these shots (more on his blog):
Generally sticking to the walls it seems particularly interested in a couple of gull carcasses.  Also of interest in recent days too has been up to four scaup last Sunday with one remaining today.  3 red crested pochard were still present on the 10th, with four whooper swans the latest through on the 6th, and a pintail visited O res last week.  A peak of 4 med gulls since the last posting on D res on the 2nd. 

Watton NR saw an uncommon visitor in the form of a knot on the 11th, and Michael Flowers and his group had the second brambling of the year on the 14th.  Otherwise perhaps most notable has been a huge influx of water rails recently - 8 on south marsh west last weekend, with a further 3 heard on North Marsh on Friday and at least two more on the lagoons.  Thanks to Bruce Pillinger for this shot:
A jack snipe was present on South Marsh West today.  Grey Heron has also been about as per this collection by Andy Marshall:
Steve Brimble captured these images of the ability of grey heron to turn its hand to anything which comes close enough - in this case an apparent short tailed vole:
Still on the go despite the last posting saying they were on the wain are the kingfishers - Andy Marshall:
Otter showed four separate times last Sunday - as usual best off on North Marsh - Steve Brimble:
And Maurice Dowson:
Unfortunately Maurice also snapped this shady character at Hempholme Lock - the 6th American mink of 2014 so the worst spate in some time:
Another more balanced predator - Sparrowhawk by Steve Brimble:
And Bruce Pillinger:
Hen harrier reported yesterday and merlin today at the northern site with two barn owl.  Goldcrest keeping out the way - Andy Marshall:
And finding that a difficulty; Albino / Leucistic pheasant by Steve Hines:

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Cock a' whoop

A big influx in the main players for winter in the last few days. A lot of pink footed geese over and whooper swans have been through in the best numbers for some time - a total of 39 birds split between 3 groups - thanks to Roy Vincent for these:
And Michael Flowers:
The 5 red crested pochard are usually to be found somewhere on the reserve - a few nice shots here by Mal Jones:
Brian Colley:
And Roy Vincent:
We've also had a scaup on the Res in recent days and luckily Brian was also on hand to capture the slavonian grebe found yesterday on the reserve walk:
Alas not present this morning but replaced by the first brambling of the season near the lagoons.  The first woodcock was also flushed out last Saturday.  There have been further fleeting reports of short eared owls around the site but perhaps marsh harriers have been the raptor of the moment - some cracking pics by Darren Smith:
It seems as though kingfisher season may be at an end on North Marsh.  Annually as the water temperature decreases the sticklebacks descend into deeper warmer water and fishing becomes easier elsewhere - they'll be back again in late June.  That said Hempholme meadow is still popular at the moment - Michael Flowers:
Roy Vincent:
And Mal Jones:
Less susceptible to weather conditions are the otters - fishing as ever on North Marsh - Darren Smith:
Roe deer by Mal Jones this afternoon:
Plenty of activity around the bird feeders now with both willow and marsh tit present - Roy Vincent:
Mallards over the D res by Brian Colley:
Next weekend is our Wetland Bird Survey count weekend we undertake with the BTO - we're always after help to assist on count days (once a month) so please let us know if you can  assist - a good knowledge of wildfowl ID is a necessity for this. 
On the gull roost we've had a peak of 4 Mediterranean gulls on the res tonight with a Caspian gull last weekend - again all the details on Martin's blog.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

A short change to winter

Last weekend saw the final exodus of summer birds around the reserve.  Around 50 swallow were over the southern site on the 10th with the final record of 4 'going south' on the 11th, combined with perhaps the final chiffchaff. 

Immediately following on the12th winter arrived with a jolt; flocks up to 150 pink footed geese heading over with the first 6 whooper swans on O res - Michael Flowers:
4 pintail had arrived on the 10th which join the ever present 5 red crested pochard on the D reservoir. There have been groups of 200 golden plover since the 9th.  Redwing have been present in small numbers in North and South Scrub - but perhaps the big highlight has been short eared owl found by Michael Flowers on the 14th over Hempholme Meadow - picture by Michael:
Resonance of the great winter of 11/12 when we had 3 birds all winter - certainly it s been a good year for barn owls with voles everywhere so it's shaping up well.  The Thursday gang are reasonably sure the bird was seen again on the 16th.  Incidentally we now have Michael's East Yorkshire Wildlife calendars in stock art the Warden's base at £8 a time - more details as ever on his blog.  Enjoying a vole bounty too were the kestrels which are active at the minute - Steve Brimble:
And stoat - Chris Bell:
Water voles are very active on North Pond and giving confiding views if you have never encountered one - Steve Brimble:
And Michael Flowers:
Also swimming about water rail on North Marsh by Steve Hines - up to 3 in the week on South Marsh West:
Just loitering are jays which are still giving intermittent sightings across the reserve and green woodpecker again made a visit last weekend on the southern site.  A late or wintering green sandpiper was the tale end of the waders although large numbers of snipe were still being dislodged from South Marsh East on Thursday morning.  There are some big flocks of tits about at the moment - long tailed's by Michael Flowers:
 And Chris Bell - more pictures on his site here:
If you are lucky blackcap has been amongst them though goldcrest are an easier find - Michael Flowers:
 Chris Bell:
The two young marsh harriers still continue to frequent the area - Steve Brimble:
And ever present Buzzard - Steve Brimble:
And kingfishers are making good of the mild conditions to give a continued shows on North Marsh; The first frosts will see them off 'til June so be quick Steve Brimble:
Resident dog otter - looks like 'one eye' by Bruce Pillinger on North Marsh - a mother and cub were reported showing well in Hempholme Lock on Thursday last:
Roe deer in the mist- Chris Bell:
We've been doing a lot of work on North Marsh as part of our ongoing Higher Level Stewardship work.  The aims are multiple with routes for the new stock fence being cleared along with scrub removal from the grassland and marshes; with the end result being to reclaim the established line of pollards - these older trees have been pollarded many times by successive wardens and volunteers and its our turn to have a go.
Traditionally they would have been cut at height to prevent stock from browsing new growth out and the whippy regrowth used at various stages for stock feed, basket weaving and hurdles.  The resultant dense re growth is brilliant for warblers and an array of fungi - this green elfcup being a cracking species on one. 
For more info on fungi and hornets check out both Africa's and Guillermo's excellent blogs, pictures and artwork.  We have practical gangs that venture out three days a week with spaces on Fridays and Sundays for more so if you fancy some fresh (smokey) air, excercise and good banter just get in touch.  Lukas and Mike crossing the north marsh to manage willow on islands used by bittern and harriers:
Dragging back:
To the processing yard - Good fun as ever from a great team.:
We're not quite sure on the fate of this legless common gull by Brian Colley - fishing line being the main suspect:
Med gull and lesser black backed's being present on barmy October evenings so far - Steve Hines: