Monday, 31 May 2010

A spoonfull of updates

Many sightings to report since Wednesday. Best bird was probably a spoonbill seen by many on thursday which unfortunately overshot and possibly went down on Watton Carrs somewhere. Also the same day the osprey was sighted again, 3 little egret over D reservoir, a red crested pochard on South Marsh East and hobby hunting over O res wood. A 4 foot grass snake gave good views from North Marsh hide too. Cuckoo was also seen today - and lucky regular Mark Cobley kindly brought us these images taken last Saturday outside North Hide.

On Friday 3 water vole were at the same location, and a stoat was seen carrying a squirrel back to the wildlife centre. There are now a number of scats visible on the paths around, but their presence does not seem to have affected the bats which can now be heard squeaking in the Centre Walls as the day heats up.

On Saturday East Yorkshire Bat Group made their spring visit, finding around 12 bats using the boxes - on this occasion being all soprano and nathusius's pipistrelle. Common white wave was one of the better moths to be found pictured, and spider of the week was this impressive but common house spider in the centre.

Sunday was quiet with just a hobby being seen carrying presumably a hirundine near South Lagoon, but great news was the sighting of the willow tits with fledglings near the new pond in D woods - the first breeding success in many years. A chiffchaff was also seen with young, and the mistle thrush continues to delight careful observers near the water treatment works feeding some healthy looking youngsters - Mandy Sears has kindly sent us these shots of them in their fortress - and also of the geese family currently making trips round O res a hazard - parents of one greylag and one canada should make for interesting results...

Today saw a few dragonflies about - a hairy on North Marsh and several broad bodied chasers on the new D woods pond, including the individual above, and a few common blues on North Scrub pictured. Chiffchaff was on the path to the hide - one of the few birds still singing loudly pictured above. And the carpet moth sp. was seen in D woods - one for Doug, Martin and Richard as nothing obvious appeared in the time I could spare (but it will no doubt be something common!)

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Temminck's and Terns

Temminck's stints have again graced the Reserve with a pair on Watton on Saturday (digiscoped above - with lapwing head for a scale), rising to three on Sunday and also came onto South Marsh East which is good for the challenge totals. Sunday also saw a group of black terns over D reservoir, and the first passage little gull of the summer. Other odd sightings have included a build up of curlews, lapwings and even an osprey yesterday over O reservoir and Watton - all presumably either non-breeders or have failed for this year. The first pair of spotted flycatchers have returned to O woods but no sign of the car park pair as yet. Marsh harrier has been about again along with a greenshank, and the first black-headed gull chicks are now visible on the Southern Marshes. The first orchid has been seen in flower today - one of our common-spotted/marsh hybrids. Best 'moth' of the trap was probably this good sized nursery web spider which had found its way into the trap, but otherwise a good spread of others including the sandy carpet pictured above. The Saturday heat made one of the best dragonfly days yet - for a full write up see Martin's blog here.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Small sightings

Large red damselfly

Common blue damselfly

Blue-tailed damselfly

Azure damselfly

Four spotted chaser dragonfly

No more purple heron sightings from Sunday, but a tiny (smaller than a wagtail)passing temminck's stint present at Watton from Monday to Tuesday was a good replacement - if a little distant to photo (above). A dunlin and whimbrel have also passed through at Watton. Otherwise a bit quieter on the bird front with some turtle dove activity and the odd marsh harrier sighting being the best. The warm weather has really brought on the insects with the midges on the wing around the O reservoir pictured, along with a number of grass snake sightings.

In addition are some great damselflies now about - Jeff Barker has sent a selection of pics shown above.

Also Michael Flowers dropped in on Monday and got some great warbler pics here, and Martin was in on tuesday getting some good butterfly/damselfly pics here...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Purple Heron!

Reported at dusk last night on North Marsh the purple heron was picked up and photographed perched by volunteer Paul Mulvana at 7:45am this morning, and regular Jeff Barker then managed to get the above shot of it in flight shortly after 9am. It was seen late morning disappearing North West presumed gone, but was again seen briefly hunting for fish (in the same spot as the bittern - spraying off the vegetation last summer seems to favour herons) at 3pm before going again. We will put the news out if it is refound tomorrow.

Otherwise those that didn't get the heron apparently had hobby virtually in the hide!. The snake walk this morning turned up a dozen grass snakes from 6" to 4 foot - pictured above in what were ideal conditions.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

First dragonflies...

Today saw the first dragonflies of the year with several four-spotted chasers about (like the one eating a tasty St. Mark's fly above) as well as a hairy dragonfly - no doubt a full write up on Martin's blog soon - this species was only discovered at the Reserve last year. Also plenty of damselflies - many of them teneral - i.e. lacking their full colours yet, but a couple of red-eyed were amongst them. A few butterflies like orange-tips, brimstones and speckled woods, but a slow start - no blues at all yet. Swallow prominent - above - was the best of the moth trap.

Bird wise we have now reached 10 common terns on South Marsh East - but only 4 pairs as the latest two seem intent on chasing each other off. The oystercatchers continued to feed their chicks which are readily visible as above. Marsh harrier was over D res (above). Wood sandpiper was on Watton but a bit elusive, 3 song thrush fledglings were in the wood NE of O Res, and the first tawny owl chick appeared in D woods. No sign of the black swans today though.

Friday, 14 May 2010

A black day for Tophill...

Yesterday we had two black swans - apparently at North Cave eariler in the week drop in for the first time in a while (pictured dozing above). Being from Australia originally it is quite difficult to string them as genuine vagrants! Also on the theme was this black rabbit - seen by the substation on D res a month ago as a youngster, it has managed to evade the buzzards and has reached a decent size now.

In terms of 'real' wildlife the woodsandpiper has been frequenting Watton all week, with visits from green sandpiper, common sandpiper, greenshank, several whimbrel and today a dunlin - adding up to be quite a respectable spring passage based on the last two years. Plenty of young ducklings about like the mallard family above, and some bizarre behaviour from the moorhen family at the wildlife centre. After seeing off the hedgehog above who had come to feed at the station, the family decided a new nest was necessary - 10 days after hatching young? The pond is drying gradually and their first nest is now high and dry - so a new one was built in the middle of the pond in around 3 hours, with all the week old chicks helping out! Not something I've seen before. Our oystercatchers have now hatched with two chicks present - the father repeatedly bringing worms in above. Both were very distressed by the marsh harrier over again above. The turtle dove arrived on Thursday in both south scrub and D woods - just the spotted flycatchers left to arrive now...

Finally thanks to Jeff Barker has sent us some rare shots of garden warbler without dense leaf cover in front, and of a sand martin taking a minute on the Res wall.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

A trip round D Res.

Above are highlights of a couple of trips to D res to monitor the moth trap. Best moth was actually outside the trap and is a new one for site at a tiny 4mm - the horse chestnut leaf-miner for more details see here. The same horse chestnuts are also badly affected by bleeding canker (info here) and are in a bad way really. Speckled wood was in D woods, and again loads of swifts, sand and house martins, with highlights being a common buzzard, kingfisher and barn owl as pictured.

A drake garganey was on D reservoir, with peregrine over again on Thursday, with the first on-site hobby yesterday. Today we had a good spread of birds with red-crested pochard on D res, hobby at O woods, marsh harrier and common sandpiper around South Marsh East, whitethroat calling strongly in East Scrub, and a little egret and one possibly two wood sandpiper on Watton NR.