Sunday, 27 October 2013

plenty at twenty

A steady time of year - the majority of the warblers have all gone now and the winter specialists are yet to arrive in earnest.  The main finds of the week have been the consistent whooper swan between D res and Decoy fields - thanks to Maggie Bruce on Michael Flowers's birdwatching course for this one:
It seems to have found itself a pal now with two regularly on Watton NR.  For more on the whoopers check out Guillermo's blog - you just need a grasp of Spanish!  A few pinkfeet were on the pits yesterday amongst the more typical residents:
It transpires that the satellite tagged bean goose did indeed visit Watton NR - albeit between 4am and 6am and was long gone by daylight it seems!:
Thanks to Carl Mitchell at the WWT for the maps along with SNH.  Otherwise the best 'new bird' was a redshank - the first recorded in some time on the river Hull.  Cetti's warblers are perhaps one of the easier birds to find as they are quite vocal around South Marsh West and South Lagoon.  No more jack or common snipe - it seems rising waters in the marshes have put them off.  Marsh and willow tits in the woods and a fair bit of water rail activity on North Marsh.  Thanks to Maggie again for these of goldcrest:
Otherwise a week of wild weather has not stimulated many observers with the exception of Martin Hodges who's found a succession of mediterranean gulls and lesser black backed gulls on recent nights. So what else to look at? A few end of season moths - feathered thorn (Doug Fairweather):
And rush veneer - the first for approximately 10 years:
Doug and Martin have taken the site list to circa 374 for the year - very impressive given only 367 species were recorded in the first 15 years of Tophill Low!  The birch catkin bug was a first for site DG:
As was field damselbug:
Melampsora euphorbiae is both a new fungi and a new gall at the same time DG:
And perhaps the finest find of all was this monster; the giant willow aphid - have a look on the NHM website to read some of its bizarre life history.  Luckily they stick to willows and not your roses:
The belted galloways are set to leave Hempholme Meadow this week having done their work for Autumn, with the cows and calves being bedded down for winter indoors.  However we are expecting some tougher steers back again courtesy of Nicola and Edward Duggleby to graze South Scrub once we've finished enclosing it in a couple of weeks.

Incidentally the reserve is 20 years old on Wednesday! We first opened to the public on the 30th of October 1993.  If I get chance I may stick a few vintage photos on the next post!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

A scot'ish theme

As with the last post one never knows what passes through the reserve unseen.  Trail cameras are handy for keeping tabs on unseen visitors like the jack snipe which were certainly still present to Thursday - thanks to Roy Vincent for these great shots of one in the South Marsh East channel:
And Roy Lyon:
However advances in technology now show us visiting birds that we never saw or photographed.  A project led by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage has been underway to track Scotland's small population of taiga bean geese which overwinter on the Slamannan Plateau - details here - using GPS transmitters.  Bird no07 was tagged in October last year and has been monitored on its breeding grounds in Sweden over Summer.  The Angus' Bean goose blog (not be confused with Tophill Low's Angus McBean!) is a great site that shows Tag07's return across the North Sea on last weeks strong north easterly winds (maps credited to the Angus Bean goose blog):
Most interesting though is that the bird put down on what appears to be Watton Nature Reserve, before moving west across York:
Read on the blog and you'll now see tag07 has made it back up to the Slamannan Plateau safe and sound.  All interesting stuff; much has been made in the press recently about getting kids outdoors and enjoying nature - perhaps this is the way we're going - we'll just be birding via the internet and computer screen in future!  Hopefully reversing this were our efforts with the RSPB Wildlife explorers building habitat piles last week (Margaret Boyd):
Keep checking out the feral greylag flock for more tasty nuggets (Roy Vincent)
Up to 21 pink feet amongst them so far on Watton (Roy Lyon):
The easterly winds also blew in two common scoters - a female last weekend on D and a drake on O on Tuesday and Wednesday as photographed by Tony Robinson on Michael Flowers's birdwatching course:
We now have Michael's 2014 wildlife calendars in stock priced at £8 - see a Warden to purchase.  Up to 11 whoopers have been present on and off; with a single bird present daily on D res or Decoy Fields (Roy V):
The gull roost is building in numbers now - impressive sights nightly on D res - Roy V:
And Roy L:
John Coish:
Just beware of jokers in the pack like this leucistic common gull (RL):
Also on the res last weekend was the female scaup (Roy L):
With gathering goldeneye RL:
And great crested grebes finding a few tasty morsels (RV):
Brambling in D woods RL:
Seeing off the last few summer migrants like this blackcap RL:
As no doubt was this sparrowhawk in the gardens by Michelle, Paul and Oscar:
Couple of grey wagtails on the wall by John Coish:
The best of the weeks rest included a couple of green sandpipers on South Marsh East on Tuesday
Great white egret on Hempholme Meadow on Thursday lunchtime
Cetti's warbler calling at South Lagoon and South Marsh West
Black-tailed godwit on Watton NR Thursday
Water Rail; two on South Marsh West and also North Marsh like this one by Bruce Pillinger:
Also on North Marsh a stoat by Brian Colley:
And if you look closely the weird and wonderful; lacewing larvae by Doug Fairweather.  Heavily camouflaged in a collection of prey remains and detritus they obscure its impressive jaws from prey:
Different indeed from the majestic adult!  Also impressive predators seeing their days out in the sun - migrant hawker and common darter (JC):
And the last few butterflies - red admiral (JC):
Next week we have the reserve open meeting at 2:30pm on Sunday - a recap of a successful summer of marsh harriers, cetti's warblers and little ringed plovers, with news on new otter holts and cattle grazing this winter - all welcome.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Whoopee - we've arrived!

Northerly winds have indeed brought in the wildfowl - 5 whooper swans yesterday and 11 today on D reservoir - thanks to John Coish for the pics:
Other highlights have been pink footed geese on Watton, little egret on North Marsh with otter today, and jack snipe showing well from the back to back hides yesterday.  We've been running the trail camera to see through the dense vegetation and interesting to pick up jack and common snipe on the camera:

Jack (at an unearthly hour):

And common:

Along with a grey wagtail:

Interestingly when the guys went to pick the camera up today they flushed 5 snipe - each of them nearly stood on - which sounds very jack snipesque behaviour; so how many are in there?

We're going back to otters for the next camera outing - an interesting pile of spraints to focus on!

The belted galloways would look nice with a glossy ibis in their paddock? The bird seen recently at Hornsea Mere would be a nice 270th species for site...