Friday, 27 August 2010

Wading in

The marshes have seen the best passage of wading birds for a couple of years. Thursday evening saw an excellent 14 green sandpipers stopping off to feed and sleep – the best number recorded since the D reservoir was drained in 2007.

They have offering some nice close in views on the small island in front of the hide as below:

Likewise a passing ruff this evening offered some nice close ups when not being harassed by the lapwings:

In addition snipe, curlew, greenshank and a pintail have all been frequenting the marsh too - when not scared off by the herons coming in roost:

Small passerines are also moving through in numbers too - so keep your eyes peeled for some of the ones we need for the challenge totals. The numbers of great crested grebes are growing steadily on the reservoirs – this was one of 20 on ‘O’ reservoir.

At the other end of the reserve the kingfishers have been coming up with the goods again – virtually with a continuous presence – even I managed some decent results!:

Regular Alan Walkington managed to get this video of the kingfisher preparing a stickleback for consumption:

In addition he managed to get this film of a pair of snipe feeding too:

Nearby Mandy Sears got these images of a young roe deer:

She also managed to photo this ichneumon wasp attempting to parasitise volunteer Pete Drury!

Finally we leave all the blackberries around the site for the birds – but this fox on the trail camera was helping itself too!

Sunday, 22 August 2010


Loads of piccies from the last couple of days - plenty of wildlife round every turn.
Friday night saw an eclipse pintail on South Marsh East. Great news was the sighting of the family of spotted flycatchers in the water treatment works compound showing successful breeding from the only pair on site of this red-listed species. One pictured below:

Another great bit of news was a sighting of a juvenille orange great spotted woodpecker - showing our tangerine celebrity has bred successfully too! 4 kingfishers were also on North Marsh this morning - showing they have bred somewhere in the area too.

On Saturday the marshes turned up close in views of greenshank:

2 Green sandpipers:

and a lone black-tailed godwit today with several snipe:

A passing marsh harrier also caused some alarm to the inhabitants too:

More concerning yet for them was this passing peregrine over Watton:

The moth trap turned up some more interesting examples among dozens of shieldbugs - canary shouldered thorn:

Peach blossom:


And finally a poplar hawkmoth as big as a snake (an unfortunate young grass snake found deceased of unknown causes):

Brimstone were on the second generation:

Two nathusius's pipistrelle were in the final bat boxes to be removed from Sgt. Major wood - thanks to East Yorkshire Bat Group:

Also inspected were the copius amounts of bat droppings at the wildlife centre:

Finally the greater water parsnip we introduced over the last year is now in full flower in some of the ponds:

If you want to help out we are starting off our practical work programme on Sunday the 5th of September at 10am - all are welcome to assist in practical tasks!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Gone back to Africa...

Lots of movements on my return to Tophill - we'll start with the goings I waved to from the plane on Tuesday:

First off we didn't promote it much but it would appear our grasshopper warblers were successful on the site this year - with reeling heard for 10 days or so in May and again in July suggesting they had bred - but their notorious reclusiveness means we can't say more than that. However David Ware got this shot earlier in the year which is as good as it gets!
(on the subject of holidays - David has some great pics from Scotland on Michael Flowers blog - click here)

The spotted flycatchers also are thought to have bred - but have likely gone now. A couple spotted last week in South Scrub are likely transient migrants. Swifts and common terns are also long gone, with no sign of little ringed plover for a month or so. The luscious vegetation which supported the orchids has now died back and we are preparing for the hay cuts in three weeks time.

In terms of arrivals though we have had a nice spread of species: A great highlight has been the various reports of osprey around the site in recent weeks - Tony McLean was lucky enough to get this shot of one over North Marsh last week:
Tony's perseverance at North Marsh has rewarded him with photos to marvel at, including many birds seldom recorded here such as greenshank. Click here to view a slideshow of Tony's work on Flickr.

The hobby he got was one of many sightings around the reserve - with perhaps a greater breeding season presence than before around the reserve this year, with a pair of birds hawking dragonflies for twenty minutes at a time!

The big rarities of August so far, whilst common elsewhere, are scarce here and difficult to record for the challenge. Red kite at North Lagoon was an excellent bird, despite the strong wolds population a few miles away. Ring-necked parakeet in the car-park / housing area was another good bird and is perhaps the vanguard of their continued expansion.

Wader wise the Westerlies have not helped bring massive numbers to the reserve but we have had representatives of all the usual candidates. Best were 11 Snipe last night which appear to be growing daily, and 8 green sandpiper last week - both good counts. Martin Hodges snapped some of them on his blog: Again click here to view his full write up...

Otherwise black-tailed godwit, dunlin, common sandpiper, ruff, curlew, whimbrel and ringed plover have all been about. Duck wise the numbers are now starting to develop with interesting nuggets if you have the patience to scan the brown mass of moulting scruffiness - a drake pintail was on South Marsh East last night, and a juv garganey has been hanging round Watton for some time.

Mammal wise the roe deer have been giving some nice views. The otters have been keeping out the way for some time and have been difficult to pick up since the High Eske incident - so there has obviously been some upset to the population. The trail camera did manage the inquisitive fox who is now comfortable with the idea of the IR lamp:

Again Doug, Martin and Richard have been keeping track of invertebrate life. The best was this bordered beauty seldom encountered - again click here for more.
A hummingbird hawkmoth was also on the wing yesterday again in the car park.

So that should bring us up to date - hopefully we'll be getting some more waders in the coming weeks to sing about...

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Escape from Tophill...

Thankfully not at Tophill Low or our volunteers would have been fewer by now!

Leopard was a highlight from my trip to Kenya over the last couple of weeks - hence why there has been no activity on the Tophill blog: I will spare you the other 700+ shots I took and keep it to the Tophill wildlife! - an update on August's sightings should be forthcoming in a couple of days as normal service is resumed...