Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Right place right time

Many of the regulars will tell you that North Marsh is often the right place.  However getting the time right can be another thing with many hours spent pleasantly but fruitlessly.  Not so for Keith Brough of Pocklington Camera Club though.  At midday on Sunday he captured these outstanding shots of a pair of otters scrapping under the hide:

Bill too captured some at the same time on Saturday lunchtime – we hope to have these for the next posting. 
Generally though it is dawn and dusk that pays the best dividends for otter watching.  Please remember that the reserve closes to visitors at 6pm.  Admission after this time is only via reserve membership – details above.
We will be running a couple of guided walks however for all again this summer.  One on Saturday June the 9th and the other on Saturday the 23rd.  Both start at 6pm and will run til dusk (up to about 10:30pm) and are book in advance only as there is limited seating.  Event is free with standard admission.  Participants will need to remain quiet and patient – as otters are never guaranteed! Please book on the usual reserve number or e-mail.
The other highlight of the last few days has been cuckoos , a pair showing very well around the southern site all weekend.  Tony McLean managed to get a great photograph of one viewable here.
Friday saw a new peak in the amoeba-like avocets – now sprouting to six birds in total.   Thanks to John Hirschfield for these pictures of all the action:

And HVWG for further pics of the new arrivals:

Common terns reached seven birds on Sunday JH:
One is also sporting a ring – we had one with a ring last year so it could be the same one, but if anyone has some time to kill with a good scope it would be interesting to hear where it came from JH:
Similarly the black headed gull 2X18 (in front of the breeze block on the nearest gravel island); We have had a request from the ringing group in the Thames Valley that folk please log any sightings of the bird – even if it is just sat so they can build up an idea of nest attendance.  Please log in the sightings book in the Hull Valley hut.
Thanks to HVWG for this shot of the first little gull the other day:
The ringing team had another flying over the site on Sunday morning too – for all the details on the latest CES visit see here.
A couple of dunlin dropped in on Sunday, and thanks to HVWG too for these further pictures of the common sandpipers still about too:

Now the short-eared owls have likely gone we can reveal what they have been eating all winter.  Robin Arundle of the Wolds Barn Owl Group had a look at this pellet we recovered in the middle of Hempholme Meadows.  We surmised it was SEO because it was deposited in open ground.  Robin confirmed this from the condition if the skull.  The animal is what is left of a short-tailed (field) vole.  Apparently barn owls virtually without exception bite the back of the skull off to dispatch their prey, whereas short-eared owls wolf their prey whole leaving an intact skull like this:
Finally on all things lamprey – thanks to Andy Nunn amongst others for their input; We think that it now could be a river lamprey based upon its size, but would need to get a proper look at the mouth parts to see.  We don’t see any way that the creature could have arrived their naturally.  The two possibilities are that it came as an egg or larvae on the digger which cleaned the pond out 4 years ago, or that it was dropped in by a passing tern which is quite a likelihood at present.