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...