Thursday, 14 June 2012

A red footed falcon (ahem!)

Shortly after posting the blog last night I was contacted by Ivan Nethercoat regarding a red footed falcon he had found last thing yesterday on telegraph wires at Wilfholme Landing (the southern tip of Tophill Low).  By this morning I had received these pictures from Ivan:

The bird 'is' a 1st summer male red footed falcon.  As one observer has said "plumage looks OK for a retarded 1st-summer male red foot to me.  I seem to recall there was an illustration of one in this plumage in MacMillan's Guide to Bird ID years ago."  There is a similar bird pictured here in Derbyshire a few days ago (unfortunately killed by another raptor since).

We should perhaps point out what 'is' means given our previous experience of a '1st summer male red footed falcon at Tophill Low' - which would explain people reaching for the nearest scope... 

For anyone under a stone who doesn't know the tale, a bird purportedly a rff turned up at Tophill in September 2008 and stayed for a month.  It had a ragged appearance and we couldn't work out why it had stayed as long as it had.  On the final day of its presence all became clear - it was moulting into its adult plumage - including newly emerged white underwings which showed its true identy; Amur falcon - a first for Britain (and then immediately pushed off much to the mild annoyance of some).  It then took several months for the recriminations and forums to quieten down. 

As such here is a bird that is almost without any doubt red footed falcon - but it could do with some more flight shots (not that it would have any differing underwings at this stage) and investigation.  Ivan lost the light yesterday before he could get any, and a thorough search this morning revealed nothing.  However our previous experience of similar beasts suggests they never get on the wing before mid afternoon when there is a bit of warmth for insects to get going.   

So there you go - there is nothing to suggest it is in anyway suspect - but make of it what you will; the unaltered (bar cropped) pictures are here for all to see - so anyone whom fancies themself as an expert can correct everyone from day one!  There are photos and further accounts of the amur bird on the Hull Valley Wildlife Group Website here for anyone interested in re-living the tale...

If you are thinking of having a look please be sensible regarding parking - there are around 5 parking spaces at the landing, and the rest of the site is a working farm, pump house and very narrow track.  We would advise people to park at Tophill and walk down Barmston drain east bank (although in fairness it is a hike).

Otherwise the sightings to 1pm included half a dozen little gull and the return of a 1st summer mediterranean gull to South Marsh East:

Now at least four bee orchids on O res - photo by Andy Nunn:

A marsh harrier was on the river and buzzard on the access road.  The avocets are still on their nest - but tonight is a worry given the horrendous forecast.  The sluices are primed but it is a difficult juggling act - we need to lose enough water so as not to flood the nest, but at the same time not too much so as the fox can get on.  We will see what dawn brings...