Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The party of the red sea

The influx of waders continues – this wave of 15 black-tailed godwits resplendent in their red breeding plumage dropped in during a rain storm last Thursday:

Likewise lapwings continue to build with 160 present on South Marsh East and Watton this evening. Whilst stranded in the hide this little egret put on a fine show:

Three were still showing this morning on the marsh. For further tips on trying to get your exposure levels right check out Tony’s excellent recent barn owl gallery here. Hopefully our one remaining shelduck chick will make it this year – the sole survivor on South Marsh East:

One thing we would like you to look out for is little gulls. Tophill Low is ranked at number 3 in the UK for little gull numbers – after Hornsea Mere way out in front and Bewl Water in Kent according to the latest Wetland Bird Survey publication. To maintain this top spot we need to keep our mean up – so please be on the lookout for the next two months and log any good counts in the sightings hut. John Leason got us off to a great start last night with 19 birds on site, but we can get hundreds – often during a heavy rain shower when the birds pour down too on migration - particularly with an easterly like tonight.

The barn owl event was successful with sightings of a male out hunting whilst this bird was hunting the southern reserve last Thursday:

Grey heron over North Marsh:

Other birds this week have included 2 common sandpipers on the res walls, spotted flyctachers, turtle dove and the continuing kingfishers which delight and annoy hopeful photographers with their erratic showings – as per David Ware here. The little grebes have been making up for this though with nest number two very active near the hide, whilst brood one is still present:

Insects have been a source of great interest – the celebrity this week has been the humming bird hawkmoth found by Steve and Jess Stokes on Saturday providing photo ops for many in 'Margaret's garden' at the car park. I have tried – 1/3200th of a second and not fast enough:

And 1/4000th and not enough light.

But there are some great pics out there like on Martin’s site.

This ichneumon wasp was in the warden’s base this morning. I gave it up as a bad job but found this excellent site with a range of species on when attempting to ID it:

Brian Spence sent us these nice shots of the smaller wildlife – a grasshopper 'sp':

Meadow brown:

Large skipper:

And small tortoiseshell:

Incidentally there were many marbled whites on North Scrub and the second generation of brown argus were on the wing around the southern site.

North Lagoon hide is now open for business again – after much hammering from our Thursday and Sunday volunteers. Please thank them – they have done a cracking job – indeed shake their hands if they can still feel them! Marsh frogs ahoy...:

The ringing team celebrated their first catch of a non-Tophill rung bird on Sunday - a sedge warbler. It will take a while for the return to come through but when it does it will no doubt be on the blog here.

Finally the main news has been raptor fledging. Our sparrowhawks were practicing hunting around North Marsh on Saturday – mum having killed a woodpigeon. The local buzzard family have been up and about:

And this kestrel was one of three being tutored in hunting over the river and on D res today:

Not enough? – how about a close up of a juvenile peregrine falcon just missing a common tern by a foot whilst coming out of a stoop, flying upside down with its talons out? Maybe we’ll try and get a pic like that for next time…