Friday, 10 August 2012

Big tern off

More movements this week - the most notable being a mass exodus of common terns last Saturday; Cliff recorded 6 moving south late afternoon and Martin a fairly notable 43 pass south over the car park early evening.  Golden plover have arrived in the last week - as usual not landing within the reserve but often flying over Decoy fields - 27 on Saturday, 35 on Sunday and a further 4 today.  More usually they are in the company of lapwings - 2-300:

The rest of the week has seen a regular occurrence of up to four green sandpipers, two greenshank and two common sandpipers - one on the weed raft in front of Hempholme lock yesterday:

Three snipe have also been a welcome returnee to South Marsh East, with fly over black tailed godwit and little egret. 

For more wader news have a look at reserve regular Erich Hediger's new blog here with details of a promising new site which seems to be holding the river's choice pick of waders at the moment.  Link also on the side bar for future use.

A pair of peregrines were on Watton pylons on Sunday and for those keen to see raptors then the sparrowhawks have freshly fledged in the vicinity of D res North Hide and making a huge racket - occasionally flying out:

However more notable was this green woodpecker found and photographed by Darren Smith this morning - a veritable one star rarity for Tophill Low: 

The general theory is that a lack of mature trees for breeding and heavy clay soils that don't readily support ants which are the birds main diet eliminate them from much of holderness despite being common over the wolds and river Humber, a distribution trait shared by nuthatches in holderness too.
Crossbill last week was also an interesting seasonal visitor - we usually get a few in late summer like this vocal youngster in the car park. 

Ray Kenyon:

The new meadow at Hempholme is still being cut - giving good views of the kingfisher predating sticklebacks:

Amazingly the pools and ditches have already been colonised by perch too - large shoals swimming about.  This means the habitat is now of value to the otters - these prints in the mud around the scrapes:

Also in the mud around the scrapes is now nodding bur marigold - perhaps one of the premier plant rarities of Tophill.  They grow in South Marsh East but really need early season mud that they don't get there - but might at Hempholme meadows - so these were transplanted from unwanted growth on the tern islands and we hope they'll do well:

Thanks to Dave Ruffles also for these pictures of gatekeeper:

Wall brown seen today by Derrick too and small coppers starting to be regular - photo from today by Dave Ware:
Southern hawker by Dave:

And Dave Ruffles also:

Southern hawker DR (thanks Paul!):

And one unfortunate soul DR:
Dave Ware also snapped this elephant hawkmoth caterpillar in south scrub today too:

In coming days if down at the reserve you may see a large amount of activity in the water treatment works.  This is part of a scheme to tunnel under North Lagoon and the river Hull as part of the finishing phase of the £300 million East Coast grid scheme.  This links Tophill Low into the wider water network between Scarborough and Hull and will ease issues in droughts like earlier this year by being able to pass water around East Yorkshire from as far away as the Dales.

This represents the first tunnel under the river since the works was built in 1959 and will be run by contractors Morrison Utility Services.  The audacious engineering feat will see a tunnel directionally drilled 8 metres deep and 230 metres in length 36" in diameter.  Drilling will take place 24 hours a day and technologically will be a step beyond last time round in the 50's - pictures from Duncan Brammell's collection in the Works:

A benefit for the wildlife is in the form of some of the aggregates to come out of the tunnel - it is hoped these will form some new wader islands in South Marsh East for next years avocets.

If you've visited recently you may have also seen the planning permission notices going up in the car park - this is for a conversion on the car park garage building which it is hoped to get underway this autumn as part of a phased improvement of visitor facilities at the reserve. 

The existing wildife centre has been condemned - leaking roofs, failed heating systems, and chiefly asbestos have all seen off the former social club for the workers on site and it is set to close in autumn.  We decided that a centre which overlooks one of our habitats would offer much more to visitors and in the longer term we will be replacing the car park hide with a new reception hide overlooking D res - a rough lay out is shown here:

In the interim vistor toilets and warden housing is the priority so the old garage in the car park is being converted with the design here, which should improve the entrance to the reserve a lot along with creating some interesting bat niches under all that cedar cladding:
If you have any queries on the developments feel free to get in touch by the usual means.