Thursday, 25 April 2013

Motacilla favourites

The undoubted highlight of the weekend gone was the biggest spring passage of yellow wagtails in recent memory.  Rather than me typing instead read Martin's blog for an excellent round up that included 110+ yellows including 2 blue headed continental types and a channel wagtail too.  Thanks to Roy Vincent for these great shots from D res straight:
Along with Michael Preston:
And Chris Ulliott:
Michael also sent us this pied - and we've had up to 2 white continental types on the wall and South Marsh East yesterday:
A red-necked reprise; the seemingly now departed grebe - a welcome visitor during its two week stay at the reserve (MP):
The ring-necked duck is still around though - thanks to Roy L for this one:
And Roy V for this cracker - the bird still present yesterday:
A smart new grebe on Sunday however - black necked making a one day visit to Watton NR - pictures by Roy V:
The reservoirs have been pulling in the hirundines in big numbers - chiefly thousands of sand martins (Roy L):
With smaller numbers of house Martins (Michael Preston):
And swallows (Roy V):
The walls too have been holding interest - three common sandpipers tonight - Roy L pics:
Other pictoral highlights include buzzard over South Marsh East being mobbed by a black headed gull:
With another perched on Watton - Andy Marshall:
Chiffchaff near the centre by Michael Flowers:
Willow Warbler by Michael Preston:
Little egret still on Hempholme this morning (MP)
With oystercatchers (MP):
And thanks to Roy L for water rail on South Marsh East:
Peacock by Alan Wrightson:
And the best of the unphotographed rest;
8 bramblings on the access road on Saturday
20+ lesser redpolls in D woods Saturday
Willow tit still present
Little gull Saturday
Crossbill Sunday
Avocets until Sunday
Sedge warbler and common whitethroat all abundant on site - the first lesser whitethroat on Monday
Marsh Harrier on Monday
5 swift over the res and 3 dunlin on the Marshes tonight.

Morrisons have also been doing some excellent work; its always a worry pulling the plug and not being sure the work can be done - but all credit to the digger crew who have managed to carry out lots of material for new breeding islands and wader feeding habitat.  We'd have liked to have taken it further - but the digger slowly sinking even on bog mats understandably put the team off:
We'll be leaving the level down all summer to try and stabilise the habitat and make it more habitable for invertebrates.  That said the bird interest is not necessarily gone.  Little ringed plovers on the marsh today, with the three dunlin tonight and these two redshank - all oblivious to the working machinery 50yds away.  We'll be finishing off the habitat by hand as the summer goes on now the material is out there.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Turds everywhere

Sunday morning and one of our visitors popped in to tell us the site was covered with 'thousands of turds' - questioningly Derrick and myself asked again:- 'Turds - everywhere'.  Thinking we were in for a good poo event that afternoon we had a look at the back of his camera - TOADS!.  Anyone familiar with the Hull accent will appreciate vowels are often pronounced 'eughh'.  As one of Michael Flowers course members pointed out perhaps Philip Larkin had a totally different meaning in his poem! (see here).  Anyhow toads certainly were everywhere and considerably later than usual as with most things this year - thanks to Roy Vincent for these shots:
We did come across some turds on the afternoon event too - a useful comparison of mink scat and some rather water blown otter spraint:
The prediction last week was that Spring would arrive this week and it certainly did! Hundreds of sand martins on the reservoir tonight:
Also stacks of swallows and house martins.  The two Pete's Dove and Casey even bagged swift over the car park on Saturday night - jet propelled on these southerly winds.  I managed the first yellow wagtail on D res wall on Saturday - thanks to Roy L for this pic:
Along with numbers of pied wags too:
Brian Bielby hit a peak of 14 on Sunday.  Meanwhile Martin bagged the first willow warbler of the year at the southern end of site Saturday too - himself revelling in a moth trap actually getting into double figures - details here.  Sunday saw John Wilkinson get the first sedge warbler of the year at the north and, with Michael Flowers getting more today.  John also managed an unseasonal Jay too.  The latest arrival was again by Brian today - common whitethroat near D reservoir this afternoon. 

A nice passage bird was picked up by John Leason on Saturday as we'd hoped on the drained Southern Marshes; an alpina race dunlin which display longer bill, chestnut on the black and extensive black on the chest. Further details here. Also visiting the marshes again are four avocets today - unfortunate as we have now drained them.  As stated last time though their chances of success were limited with the fox situation as was, and hopefully the habitat will be improved for them in future.  Thanks to Chris Bell for these images of grass snakes also on the go around site: 

Along with kestrel:
And little egret:
Still on Hempholme tonight:
Along with paired up Gadwall:
And even grey partridge which is a nice endorsement of the habitat:
Otherwise the other highlights included red necked grebe on O reservoir - not seen since Monday when Steve Routledge left it to go chasing funny teal... check out the report here and also Paul Ashton's excellent blog too which features many of the summery invertebrates also on the go.  The ring necked duck was still about on D res yesterday and looking smart - thanks to Roy L for this:

Roy Vincent:
And John Coish for these:
Finally thanks to volunteer Rob Quarmby of the unfortunate barn owl the team found the other week.  We've set Wolds Barn Owl Group man Robin Arundale on the case - who has had other recent casualties too.  Two birds recovered at Skerne last week were both 50% underweight.  It would seem this year there is a vole crash - the opposite of last year when massive numbers attracted multiple short eared owls and hen harriers, both of which have barely been seen this year.  Hopefully our barn owls will survive to breed this season...