Saturday, 9 April 2011

A tern up for the books

It's always nice to get a site first - having been pipped by the reserve regulars on all the hirundines I was pleased to log the first sedge warbler on South Marsh West on Tuesday night. However I was fairly bowled over to see a common tern back on the breeding islands of South Marsh East this afternoon!:

Skimming back through the records (thanks to HVWG) it appears this is the earliest recorded common tern at Tophill (certainly for at least 15 years) by a whole 13 days. Indeed a look on Birdguides suggests this could be a Yorkshire first for year / and the most northerly recorded to date in the UK? However it may not be one of ours as close inspection of the pic reveals it is a ringed bird - unless one of ours has been rung on migration? We expect up to 9 new birds from 2009 to arrive this year - in addition to the existing 5 pairs.

The drake pintail was also present. It is lucky the tern islands were finished yesterday!:

The terns very nearly had to share their islands with 3 castaway volunteers for the summer - I will leave the full write up and pictures for the HVWG newsletter - which will be worth the £5 annual membership for this feature alone...

That said the little ringed plover are eyeing it up already:

And the 28 pied and two yellow wagtail seem to like it too:

Probably best not to wade out given the leeches attached to the boat - though in reality only dangerous if you're a snail:

Another invertebrate interest are these bee-flies - noted by Pat Crofton they are apparently a new arrival in the UK and are all over when you start looking. They are another parasite of moth larvae:

Cowslips are looking excellent:

Grass snakes out in force:

And even a pair of barn owls on site again catching voles:

Unfortunately no sign of the scaup since Weds when these were taken:

Likewise the slav grebe only stayed for Tuesday - thanks to HVWG for this pic which shows it was here!:

Still mink activity from the scat below:

Apparently 6 mink have been removed from the upper Hull along with our 3, with additional sightings from High Eske. There has obviously been a big spike in the population. My own theory is that the cold winter perhaps drove mink from frozen tributaries onto the main river Hull, which they have found to their liking - last summer they were not recorded on site at all. Obviously we will do our best to knock them back before the water voles etc. get hit badly.

Other than that there are still bramblings and goldeneye - but no whoopers or interesting geese anymore. Unfortunately no news on the osprey of late and no reserve sightings - all info is on the EY birding forum.

However a cracking forecast with winds originating in central Europe can only make for a fun weekend...