Sunday, 9 December 2012

Prince caspian

We've known for a while that species number 269 has been on the cards for Tophill Low - caspian gull.  Back last winter Martin Hodges identified a bird that would finally meet the criteria to be accepted by the county recorder.  The reason that this bird has not been recorded earlier is because they are so similar to the herring gull, which formerly encompassed both the yellow legged gull (one on the res tonight) from the mediterranean and also the caspian gull from the Ukraine.  Birdguides offers a useful history of the species here; and this site shows caspian gulls in a variety of ages to aid the observer.

Whilst they may appear distinctive there is much debate over hybridisation in these species and as such the County Recorders at the Yorkshire Naturalist's Union are reticent to accept any record of caspian gull unless accompanied by a suitably accurate description along with a relevant CV in gull ID.  All credit to Martin for taking the time to carefully assess and dismiss many potential candidates before preparing the case for this one which has just been accepted. 

That said he also happy to report a second bird on Friday night that again is sufficient to be offered for submission - details here.  An incidence of a bird is generally associated with a big movement of herring gulls - on Friday night peaking at 1052 birds with over 2000 passing through in the afternoon - in addition to a peak of 760 great black backed gulls with over 1000 through.  So anyone trying to add this one anecdotaly to their Tophill list will need a good explanation!.

After the excitement of Darren's excellent otter photos last time we have no new ones to offer - suffice to say they have been showing exceptionally well all week - with three separate sightings on North Marsh today - Roy managed some video we hope to add next time, but Steve Brimble got these of some of the other inhabitants too; Roe deer:

Male reed bunting:
Erich got some more pics on his blog showing the kingfisher is still active.  Roy Vincent also snapped female reed bunting:
But flavour of the month has been thrushes of all kinds and turning the air black at time over South Scrub - Roy got these great shots of song thrushes:
And fieldfare:
A reported waxing on the approach road last week and Michael Preston also sent these more great shots of fieldfare:
Along with a redwing:
This willow tit was a nice snap by Michael on the reserve walk last week:
This male marsh harrier heading up river was the other walk highlight:
Another fine raptor - sparrowhawk by Steve:
 And also by Roy:
Wintry scenes; not the barents sea but the former Hempholme Meadow now ice flow on Wednesday:
Skating pied wagtail:

And pheasant having an icy wade by Roy:

And home to many black headed gulls picking over presumed invertebrates driven up the ridges of the meadow before finally being flooded out:
Frosty wren by Roy:
Blue tit by Michael:
Long tailed tit by Roy:

And a nice flight of wigeon:

Elsewhere goosander reported, with mediterranean gull, lesser redpoll and siskin.

Finally just a reminder we're after entries for the 2013 membership card design.  The rules are one per person and must have been taken at Tophill in the last year.  Remember the image needs to work on a credit card size and entries in by the 31st of December.  The winner gets a years membership - shortlisting by the reserve team and judging by vote in the YWS Land and Planning team - best of luck!

Alan Walkington's winner from last year: