Thursday, 21 February 2013

Gone but not forgotten

Whilst the great northern diver may have last been seen on Sunday the 17th it would apparently have not gone far - Erich has the low down on the apparent re-appearance of the bird at Hornsea Mere - alomg with the ring-necked duck which has ambled back down to High Eske again on his blog here.  So there is always a chance of re-occurence - that said we've has some great pictures of the bird from the weekend - thanks to Roy Vincent for these:
And also Alan Wrightson:
And this one courtesy of HVWG too:
Roy also captured these of some of the other stars of the reservoir at the moment - a fine drake pintail:
And the now showy goldeneye:
The red head smew was still present today on Watton NR, and up to two pink footed geese was present too there most days.  John Prentice recorded 24 barnacle geese there on Monday and the nest box team a male marsh harrier on Tuesday.   Martin recorded a welcome mediterranean gull on the roost on Sunday evening after a pretty dry spell for interest - along with two adult lesser black backed's - the start of spring?  Perhaps indicated too by 5 shelduck now on site and the return of the oystercatchers on Saturday.  Hopefully the willow tit in the woods is there to breed too.  Steve Routledge recorded the final scaup sighting along with a nice flock of redpoll on Saturday - pictures on his blog here.  An otter sighting from last Friday too - hunting for 30 minutes on Watton NR.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Great northern

Well done to volunteer Graham Slack today who found and sent us photo's of this great northern diver on the 'O' reservoir today - the first since 2007:
Keep and eye out on Martin and Steve's site's too for likely some pictures to come.  Elsewehere on the reserve we had red-head smew on Watton, juv type marsh harrier west over D res, scaup type hybrid on D res and some interesting 'mealy type' redpoll which would do well for further investigation.

Late edit - thanks to Martin for these great shots too:

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Ringing off

Whilst it showed well on Sunday unfortunately there have been no further reports of the ring-necked duck since.  2 scaup were seen on Monday - picture from HVWG here:
But no scaup and much fewer ducks in general on the res today.  A few pintail remained - and a drake goosander at dusk tonight was a nice consolation spotted by Andy Marshall. Peregrine over the res on Sunday night with the little gull and a 1st winter lesser black backed gull.  Leucistic wigeon on O was an oddity - HVWG:
Elsewhere pink footed goose on Watton - and the seemingly now reliable woodcock at the wildlife centre - still there today.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Ducks deciphered

The snow stayed away and as such a few of us managed to take in a very aythyacational day on the deciphering ducks event this afternoon.  With the contents of D res at the moment we managed to go through a whole page of Collins with everything in between. Today we got some better views of the new 1st winter drake scaup found yesterday - pictured here top right with the ring necked duck lower right:
The bird of the moment was still here at dusk tonight - still in it's familiar pose:
We also had this tufted duck x scaup hybrid too:
In addition there were 16 pintail, a shelduck, and on O res and latterly Watton NR the red head smew.  Around 55 pink footed geese flew over NW at 11:00.  Have a look on Erich's site too for more aythya's and an interesting leucistic wigeon. Tony has updated his page with more Watton NR pics where a grey heron was hiding today. Also check out Africa Gomez's page for a nice barn owl sketch and the contents of a pellet revealing its diet - very comparable to what we found on the mammal safari's of the last couple of weeks.  And finally Chris Bell has some pictures of another predator of rodents - the stoat near the Hempholme hide here.

The little gull appears to be a nightly visitor, joined by a lesser black backed gull, and finally three woodcock were unveiled as darkness fell tonight - a picture of two in brighter conditions yesterday:

Saturday, 9 February 2013

A nice little sighting

Ring-necked duck still present all day on the D reservoir.  Whilst distant, good light for the first time in days revealed the drake scaup back again, along with a reported new 1st winter bird too.  The two hybrid scaup were about too, with a peak of 8 pintail.  A well spotted little gull dropping in for a brief bathe was the second uncommon winter record in a week.  The red-head smew was on Watton NR early afternoon and little egret was reported from both Hempholme and North Marsh.  Barn owl was also active in this vicinity too; Thanks to Graham Slack for these excellent photos of barn owl fortuitously encountered on the sewage plant near the wildlife centre:
The day ended with the amoeba like woodcock as ever - tonight expanding their numbers to four birds in the wildlife centre hedge - with a further one flushed from the woods.  For anyone wanting to do a bit of birding beyond Tophill, Arram Carrs just down river seems to be turning up some good birds with Tim Cowley reporting 8 Bewick's and 12 whooper swans, 4 white fronted geese, little egret and c160 pink feet over this afternoon.

Deciphering ducks event still hoping to run at 13:30 tomorrow - we'll see what the snow does!

Friday, 8 February 2013

ring for a red-head

Ring-necked duck still present all day today - although generally distant at the top of D.  Many thanks to Steve Routledge for finding the bird first thing and then taking the time to re-locate for others later on.  He sent us this shot of the bird on a rare occasion it was not asleep:
For more of Steve's pics see his excellent blog here.  The lesser scaup'esque hybrid was also present - sleeping pic here:
The hybrid tufty scaup was also there - but no sign of the genuine scaup.  Two pintail all day and Andy Nunn managed to refind the red-head smew on D res last thing.  Water rail made a brief dash across North Marsh according to Alan Walkington and Steve reports two little egret at Hempholme.  Again he also sent us this snap of one of the centre woodcocks:
Two were on show all day - but come 17:00 we were treated to a feeding frenzy as they finally came into action feeding along the front of the hedge - and revealing there are actually three of them tucked in there!

One final note - you may notice we have the Deciphering Ducks event on Sunday at 1.30pm.  Just an advance warning that although we have plenty of interesting ducks to decipher - the forecast weather may hinder this - particularly if we get stuck at Tophill! So be prepared for a last minute cancellation - we'll announce it on here and twitter if that has to be the case.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Ring neck update

A quick update - the ring-necked duck was still being logged this afternoon with at least one 'scaup type' and pintail also present.  Woodock showing well at wildlife centre and a pink-footed goose recorded on Watton NR.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

rubber necking a ring neck

A thoroughly miserable day with strong northerlies saw most of the wildfowl sheltering at the north of the D reservoir.  As such no reports came in of the ring-necked duck til the end of the day when a thorough scan turned up this stunning view of the bird asleep half way up the reservoir:
Whilst it may not have been a fulfilling view for me - at least anyone hoping to see it tomorrow can take heart it was still asleep at dusk as the sleet storm enveloped the res.  Lots of big gulls on tonight but nothing noteworthy as far as seen.  A drake pintail was again on - but no sign of the scaup and it's half cousins; That's not to say they weren't there as viewing conditions were pretty awful with next to no one looking.  This unfortunate tufted duck was sporting a rubber band - hopefully not a life threatening entanglement but clearly unwelcome attire:
Woodcock also just visible from the centre.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Scaups through the snow

Ring necked duck again present all day today - reportedly showing very well in the morning before drifting further north on the res later on.  The scaup and hybrids were also present - thanks to HVWG again for these pictures from yesterday - pukka scaup with big round head, big bill with black nail, and pale uppers:
Hybrid type scaup - note the tuft that shouldn't be there - betraying a half tufty parentage:
And the 'lesser scaup' type hybrid with darker uppers and coarse vermiculation - presumably the same bird which had been causing head scratchings in the LDV last month:
A good day by all accounts across the reserve.  Pintail were also on the res this afternoon:

And both woodcock showed well from the centre late aft:

Further south at Wilfholme Vaughan Grantham recorded 6 bewick's swans with later observers recording 8.  In amongst the large golden plover flock Vaughan also reports a green sandpiper.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Ringing in an update

A quick update is that the ring-necked duck was still present to at least this afteroon - all the details with this and the scaup (and it's half cousins) are on Erich's blog here

Thanks to the finder, Tony Disley from InFocus Optics who sent us these much improved shots of the bird from yesterday:
For anybody not in the know the reason for the excitement is that this is an american vagrant species which is a relatively uncommon visitor to our shores - though a few get blown across every year on high winds and tag along with their European cousins - tufted ducks and in this case scaup too - which are an infrequent but annual visitor to the reserve.  To read more on the species visit this American site.  Its the first time at Tophill for 8 years and the best bird of 2012 - so far...

A later edit: thanks to HVWG for this picture from today also:

Sunday, 3 February 2013

In focus at last!

It took three weeks - but finally the ring-necked duck completed its 4 mile trip up the river Hull from high Eske! Thanks to Tony Disley of InFocus Optics who picked the bird up shortly after setting up stall this morning (not Bernie as previously stated - who's customer picked out the amur falcon last time round).  I've yet to get any pics for the blog in spite of a good show through the afternoon - so I'm afraid it's just my phone scoped blur taken a few seconds before the mammal safari today:
For better have a look on Erich's page - and I'm sure there'll be more to come yet.

The arrival of this bird was also combined with at least three scaup - one of which was a pukka male.  The other two reportedly had some element of hybridity even giving a lesser scauped-esque appearance.  Already a discussion as to whether these were the same birds from the LDV a couple of weeks back? details here.

17 pintail were also an excellent winter maxima so far - and Martin brought the day to a fine end with the first little gull of the year. 

An excellent day on D res aside, the rest of the site was respectable too.  Otter has been hunting on Watton NR both yesterday morning on the reserve walk (under Tony McLean's lens - but no pictures as yet on Flickr - he'd possibly frozen in the snow!), and also this afternoon.  A pink footed goose was present there yesterday and the red-head smew made a welcome return again today. 

For those chosen even the woodcock showed this morning - two birds in the back hedge again.  However by dusk they had shyed of publicity again.  Elsewhere barn owl, siskin and kingfisher today.  Ermine stoat seen near Sleight's Farm and willow tit on the feeders yesterday, with merlin on the carrs. 

Next event on the list is the decliphering ducks event - 1pm next Sunday - no booking necessary.  Hopefully we'll have some exciting ducks still about!