Sunday, 24 June 2012

Coronet for the King

Unfortunately autumn has now arrived!  the first waders are now starting to return through the reserve.  A dunlin on the southern marshes yesterday, a common sandpiper on the new cut of the river Hull this morning, and four whimbrel east over Hempholme Meadows.  Post breeding season is also traditionally the time for kingfishers on North Marsh - three seen daily now back on their familiar perches - these on Thursday:

Also worth watching is the kingfisher hunting over the new scrape at Hempholme.  In a previous post we reported sticklebacks in the ditches - and a look today revealed masses; clearly the small numbers present after have reproduced hugely given the lack of predators at present.  And the kingfisher is doing an excellent impression of pied kingfisher 'hover-hunting.'

However excellent news yesterday from South Marsh East - after a lot of running around sorting water levels in the last month the avocets have successfully hatched (for the first time ever at Tophill).  Two chicks yesterday and three today with the birds still apparently incubating more:

Unfortunately they are at the mercy of the weather which besides predators are the biggest threats to young avocets.  These birds have taken a gamble in colonising the marsh on the basis that predators may not have learnt to exploit them at Tophill.  Avocet colonies often go through an expansion and sudden collapse as one predator realises 'these are an easy meal' and wipes the lot out in a season.  Hopefully they'll come good though - the birds parenting to date cannot be faulted.

Otherwise ten little gulls, hobbys, grey wagtail, and water rails and daylight hunting otters on North Marsh have been notable sightings.

A couple more firsts this week - a (subject to a final check of the list) - varied coronet found by Doug and Martin:
And found by Pete Drury last October and identified last week by Barry Warrington - a reserve first and one of few seen in Yorkshire; Western conifer seed bug Leptoglossus occidentalis (immature):