Sunday, 18 April 2010

Wonderous wagtails

The second half of this week has seen the arrival of more migrants with lesser whitethroat first heard calling on South Marsh West on Friday followed by whitethroat this morning. This afternoon the first house martins turned up – a group of 15 briefly assembled over O res before moving on. Yellow wagtails have been building in increasing numbers with D res straight, Watton NR and the water treatment works being the hot spots. Excitement was caused by the sighting of a syke’s wagtail on the reservoir walls on Thursday afternoon – see photo on the Hull Valley site here. Syke’s wagtail is an eastern subspecies of yellow wagtail – motacilla flava ssp. beema more commonly found in Russia and is somewhat rarer than the usual continental vagrant ‘blue headed’ motacilla flava ssp. flava more commonly seen – or indeed our own ‘all yellow’ wagtail – motacilla flava flavissima. Confused? – there are another 6 sub species of yellow wagtail found in Europe + hybrids!. Another probable blue-headed was being investigated on Watton at closing time tonight until news that a group of cranes had taken off from nearby Nafferton and were flying South – nothing reported yet though. A little easier are the occasional white wagtails Motacilla alba ssp. alba (again another European variant of our UK pied wagtail – ssp. yarrellii) passing through – one photographed by Jeff Barker above. So that’s 5 versions of two birds to really confuse you!. After saying how rare it was to get a kittiwake on the reserve like the one at the end of March – we got another today – this time an adult on D res. I am tempted to say the red-head smew ‘may’ have left for breeding grounds with no sightings since Friday, with no brambling for 10 days - so have officially gone. Moth of the trap for Saturday was the powdered quaker above. Other than that grass snakes, the first marsh frogs, water vole activity (Jeff Barker pic above) on North Marsh, brimstone butterflies and huge numbers of cowslips all mirror the warmer weather.