Sunday, 12 February 2012

Tophill very low

If you braved the ice yesterday morning then you may have seen the spectacular hoar frost around the site. Apparently temperatures had reached -13 on Friday night festooning everything with spectacular ice crystals – access road:
The chain links had very nearly crystallised solid:
As was all vegetation:
hoar frost pine 11 02 12
hoar frost stems 11 02 12
hoar frost poplar 11 02 12
hoar frost pine 2 11 02 12
Making D woods look fairly magical:
D woods 11 02 12
Greylag geese searching for some unfrozen forage:
hoar frost geese 11 02 12
This is clearly the same for the great white egret seen on Wednesday – no further reports as yet – but since the last post we have satisfied ourselves it was certainly one, especially with the volume of other birds in the UK all moving about at the moment. Whether it stays is dependent upon if it can find somewhere to feed – as most of the reserve is solid as per North Scrub:
north scrub 12 02 12
north scrub 2 12 02 12
And D res is around 95% frozen with apparently one small patch on O:
D res frozen 11 02 12
The two smew were in this hole:
d res 11 02 12
But most birds – with around 650 coots were in the other bigger opening – where this great black backed gull was purloining a sumptuous morsel:
frozen d res 2 11 02 12

These carrion crows too seemed to be enjoying the pickings:
D res frozen 2 11 02 12
This has the result of all wildfowl being on the river Hull. The closure of the riverbank for the EA works at present is a huge blessing as it restricts disturbance during this important time:

river hull 11 02 12
A visit to the lock at Hempholme however revealed no less than 15 little grebe feeding within 100m each side of the weir:

Also present was a kingfisher and redshank on Thursday:

Yesterday John L also had 2 green sandpipers in the ditch near Blue Keld. Despite the conditions we made the most of the gap in the snow on Thursday to finish the path to the new hide at Hempholme Meadows:

If you too fancy re-enacting the life of one of Stalin’s political exiles then feel free to volunteer any Thursday or Sunday at 10am!

The hide was built by Sam Atkinson who is better known for recent works at North Cave Wetlands and we are very pleased with its value for spec:

We'll do a start to finish slide show on the development of the new Hempholme Meadows habitat once all the jobs are complete - and may hold a small opening do in May when it's greened over a bit...

Immediately after the snows returned for a fresh covering as this kestrel looked suitably miffed about:

However as ever this gives the opportunity for brilliant mammal tracking. A quick ten minutes in the new hide yesterday revealed hunting fox:
fox 11 02 12
fox 11 02 12 2
Which was also surveying this spectacular otter slide down the Hull bank which had appeared in the last 36 hours:
fox and otter slide 11 02 12
otter slide 11 02 12
otter slide 2 11 02 12
Nearby were the remains of a recent kill:

And this peregrine was barrelling down the river after upsetting the local rook population over Struncheonhill:

Tony Simpson has was in the old faithful on North Marsh on Wednesday though and got these great water rail pictures:

And likely the same fox from Hempholme:

Elsewhere brambling is still on the feeders and we are getting the odd woodcock sighting.