Friday, 31 May 2013

Events updates

A quick note too - We have the Reserve Walk tomorrow morning at 10am - all welcome - free with standard admission; focusing on warblers, waders and terns.

All otter events are now fully booked as is the barn owl walk.  Depending on success we may run some more later this summer.

The next book in advance event I can thoroughly recommend is our 'Life in the River' event on the 23rd of June - a walk with local fisheries expert and ex EA man Alan Mullinger.  Fish seldom make the Tophill blog apart from when being eaten by ospreys or goosanders - so why not pop along to learn about the huge array of impressive creatures all over the reserve we seldom see in a walk along the river.

01377 270690 to reserve your place now...

Follow the pied piper

Perhaps the highlight of the last week was found by Richard Baines and Steve Race of Yorkshire Coast Nature on the 24th - pied flycatcher.  An uncommon visitor to the reserve on northwards passage - perhaps this gives us hope that we may get a spotted; 44+ at Bardsey today so they're on the move.  Michael Flowers was one of those who missed out as per his blog - but did make up with some nice temminck's stint pictures - which remained present to the 25th. 

Running a close second was the arctic tern which stopped off for all of 3 minutes found by Martin Hodges on Saturday the 25th - write up as ever here with plenty of odonata updates for good measure.  Still a respectable passage of waders - greenshank, ringed plover (2 still present today on the 31st by Les and Margaret Bardwell), common sandpiper, whimbrel over (Sunday 26th by Vaughan Grantham) and redshank. 

Still three little gulls knocking around, and common terns on the rafts at Watton.  Thanks to Karen Williams for this catch:
Still plenty of breeding activity around the marshes - reed warbler by Karen:
Along with nice male reed bunting:

And a nice shot of a pair of apparently courting bullfinches in the South Scrub stronghold:
Perhaps similar to which Michael Flowers observed here.

Best of the rest; 3+ hobbies via Roy and Martin L, osprey on Sunday via Rod Maltas and plenty of cuckooing including tonight on North Marsh.

And finally a shot from Jeff Barker:

Swimming fox on South Marsh West - the water here is around 8ft or more in depth.  Reputedly foxes will only wade hence the careful creation of fox trenches around both marshes back in 1991 - something which has seemingly always worked.  Unfortunately this individual seems to have taken to open water which could cause some issues for island nesting birds...

Friday, 24 May 2013

Northward bound

In a nice departure from what is usually a quick fly through on their dash northwards we've had a few nice waders drop in a hang around in recent days.  Temminck's stint made a return to the site on Wednesday morning first thing - found by Martin Hodges.  The bird was still about at last visit today on Watton NR - after a visit to the southern marshes earlier this morning where it gave slightly improved images:
The reason for the difficulty in pictures is its size - here in comparison with a supposedly tiny little ringed plover (right) for comparison:
An equally smart bird was located by Jeff Barker on Monday - wood sandpiper on South Marsh East - present until yesterday night but not seen today:
More pics on Erich's blog here. Green sandpiper on Watton NR today with two common sands too.  Yesterday saw a ringed plover on Watton NR - an uncommon visitor to the reserve.  Avocet made a brief visit on Monday too.  Greenshank by Graham Slack earlier in the week:
And also by Roy L:
Perhaps the best bird of the week has been a turtle dove purring in South Scrub - a very uncommon species these days.  Osprey has been hanging around too - last seen over south marsh east at 17:15 this evening after a few sightings through the week.  Ring necked duck still at the top of D res this afternoon too:
Up to three little gulls around most days - thanks to Roy L for these great shots:
Best of the rest included two calling cuckoos - perhaps parasitising some of the abundant warblers around site like this reed warbler by Graham:
With common whitethroat:
And sedge by John Hakes:
Who also captured this reed bunting:
Sedge by Roy L:
Anyone wanting to experience more of the warblers around site is welcome to pop down to the warbler walk this weekend - no booking necessary and free with standard admission we'll be looking at some of the varied calls and songs courtesy of Dave from Wolds Birdlife.
PLEASE NOTE; this event will be starting later than the previously advertised 10am - the event will now be running between 13:30 and 15:30. 

If the temperature drags itself into double figures you may encounter a few more of these four spotted chasers around site - thanks to Martin for this sequence of pictures showing the emergence of a fresh flyer - for the full show as ever see his blog here:
Geese still scrapping around site - thanks to Steve Brimble for these:
Grey heron on North Marsh:
And also marsh frog - now in full chorus on North Lagoon!:

Saturday, 18 May 2013

One good tern deserves another

A couple of nice finds this week (omitting the near resident ring necked duck seen daily on D res or Watton NR - most recent pictures on Dave Ware's Wolds Birdlife page); black tern on Wednesday was a nice seasonal visit.  We usually reckon on a visit by these continental breeding terns on their migration on at least one occasion a year - thanks to Roy L for this one (tern bottom nearly obscured by swifts!):
The volunteers have also been doing some excellent work.  As we have drained the southern marshes this year the terns have been rehoused to Watton Nature Reserve, unfortunately their rafts there were rapidly colonised by black headed gulls.  However a pair of rafts which were formerly on High Eske but could not be maintained there were kindly brought up by Richard Sears last week - photo by Erich Hediger:
The team then transferred them to the tractor trailer - chief lasher Mike at work:
The overseer at work!:
And the finished result - common terns were on the raft within the hour and seem to be settling well:
The other main highlight was picked out by Martin this evening - a pair of temminck's stints on Watton NR at 5:40pm - a 'record shot' here:
A few waders in the week, whimbrel on Friday heading north, greenshank on South Marsh East Thursday to today, redshank by Andy Marshall on Thursday night:
There today were 3 1st summer little gulls which have been round most of the week:
Willow warbler near the back to back hides tonight:
 With bullfinches:
Stay a bit later and you may be rewarded; otter by Andy at last light carrying bedding material - possibly to a nearby holt we built a couple of years ago:
Foxes on the go too - check out Tony's blog for some great new pics.  Remember to be about on site after 6pm you need to be a member - but there were a pair of otters showing on North Marsh at 10am last Saturday.  At the other end of the spectrum your more likely to find something new looking in the undergrowth.  Thanks to Doug Fairweather for this new addition - water ladybird - the first recorded on site ever:
More details on Martin's blog with a nice array of hoverflies - no doubt details of the new micro moth sp to follow too and pale prominent pictures - an uncommon addition to the Moth list for the first time in a few years.  Martin also witnessed an impressive sight on Wednesday - the osprey which was still around today attempting to catch a hare on Decoy Fields, whilst in the foreground a swift was caught by the now proficient sparrowhawk.  Still plenty to go at though - 1000's on the reservoir daily thanks to Roy L for this:
Insect supply is still low in the wider environment but there's always plenty to be found over the reservoirs - if only moths were as plentiful as midges in the traps - a typical catch.  A lifetime's work to identify the contents of this alone no doubt - so much to look at if you delve into it:
The ringing team under Graham Scott have again restarted for season.  Interestingly these two blackbirds were re-caught last week.  They were both rung as adults in the scrub way back in 2010 - making them at least 4 years old and more than likely still a pair as caught just a couple of feet apart:
Inspecting more breeding birds we took the opportunity to explore Hempholme Meadows yesterday which unearthed the first blue tailed damselfly of the year.  Anyone who wants to learn more about odonata identification and distribution on the reserve and locality is well advised to order a copy of this new book by Paul Ashton - a long term member of the reserve and British Dragonfly Society recorder for this area:
The book is priced at £24.95 postage free for a limited period only direct from Paul - all the details here.  Highly recommended...

The Meadows have been colonised by lady's smock now - in amongst a range of other exciting shoots to study as summer goes on:
Including meadow foxtail - one of our Higher Level Stewardship target species and a natural relic from the seedbank - we may try and harvest seed to propagate plugs from this later on:
All good fodder for at least 3 water vole territories as evidenced by nibblings around the ditches:
Evidence too of otter prints - picked out by Chris Earl:
And a few sprainting sites:
And kingfisher by Roy L:
Which brings us on to this finale.  How did this occur? My theory is the stickleback jumped clear of a perch or pike and became impaled on this overhanging branch - what a way to go...