Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The quiet time of year

Or so we are led to believe…thinking it was a good time to escape I recently popped to the Farne Islands on my annual hols hence no blog updates:

Unfortunately as usual Tophill’s wildlife had other ideas and a shout from reserve volunteer Andy Marshall told me about the pair of American Wigeon in my absence – something I would not have predicted in mid-June (photo by Andy:)

With everywhere else quiet the promise of the wigeon and the possibility of the re-found purple heron brought many folk in including the HVWG boys who got this shot too:

Along with amongst others Martin Standley and James Spencer.

Beyond this other interesting sightings of the week have included 3 garganey – 2 males and a female present until the 28th, hobby and marsh harrier on the 29th, cuckoo and barn owl all week, and turtle doves have shown an encouraging presence purring at South Scrub, flying over my head in the car park today before passing Derrick further up D res, and Richard Sears recording them at Watton railway crossing again. 8 shelduck chicks were counted on south marsh east today, with lots of black headed gull chicks and well grown oystercatchers.

Disturbingly 7 crossbills were seen around the car park – photo on the HVWG page here. Disturbing as crossbill movements which we get at this time annually are usually none and failed breeders – showing the breeding season is done for them – time to put the thermostat up again…

So making the most of the summer are the bee orchids now emerged:

Please be careful when looking for or photographing them – this fine specimen was taken from the tarmac road on O res.

All the hay meadows are now looking great like the wildlife centre ‘oxeye crop’:

However all is not as rosy as it looks as any fly would have discovered visiting this bloom and its residing crab spider:

Also on the insect front is the Agapanthia villosoviridescens a fine looking beast which can be found on many of the hogweed florets on the NW side of O res:

Martin Hodges who took the above is our greatest connoisseur of the various long horn species around site and throws down the gauntlet for folk to enjoy and potentially discover any different species. As ever further details on his blog, including the latest southern hawker records.

This common blue was also about and I saw my first meadow brown of the year today:

Again still grass snakes present for anyone who has been inspired by Springwatch:

Of greater interest though is a record of a slow worm seen disappearing into a hole on D res straight road on May 31st. If you were the observer please drop me a line so we can investigate it further, as there have certainly been no records in recent times for this species on the reserve and it is a welcome and notable addition.

On the topic of Springwatch some of you may have noted Tony McLean’s picture below of a mute swan in flight making it to number two spot for ‘action photos’ last Wednesday on Unsprung:

Well done Tony! If anyone wants to see more of Tony’s work there will be a display by Driffield Photographic Society between the 19th and 25th of June at the Triton Gallery, Sledmere – featuring an array of Tony’s best pics – well worth a visit and further info on Tony’s site here. Also worth a look is Tony’s great fox and crow pic here. I tried it today with a crow and dryad’s saddle – but the effect didn’t seem quite as dramatic…

Also chasing foxes has been Rory Selvey – who has more great pics on his blog here, with Jeff focusing upon butterflies mainly on Flickr.

Matthew Binns kindly sent across these great pics of another even bigger assemblage of long tailed tits:

And a fine looking reed warbler – North Marsh being the best place for them:

The grey heron has been trying to find some peace away from the gulls unsuccessfully:

The ringing team dropped in last week – updates here. And the East Yorkshire Bat Group popped in too – a brown long-eared in a box being a first (though seen often outside of a box).

Anyone who enjoys the unspoilt tranquillity of North Marsh may be interested to see these pics of its creation 20 years ago and the apparent devastation. I hope to put a few more of these archive pics on in coming weeks to soften the blow when we start work on Hempholme in mid August!

Those wanting to experience North Marsh in its current tranquil state is welcome on Saturday nights otter walk as there are still places available – strictly book in advance on 01377 270690 – free with normal admission. We will be quietly staking out the marsh til late and recent reports give us hope – but then we tried last year too and failed, though roe deer, marsh harrier, kingfisher, cuckoo, barn owl and water vole instead can’t be that bad!

Finally please remember in case you were thinking of popping in for the water vole event on Sunday that it is cancelled due to lack of voles / suitable hide.