Bird of the last couple of weeks if not the year to date was a pair of little terns found be Lee Johnson on the morning of the Saturday the 26th over the O reservoir which stayed briefly before continuing their migration. Nearly as rare at Tophill have been numerous sightings of a green woodpecker in the environs of the Water Treatment Works and D reservoir of late, an uncommon visitor this side of the Wolds, with common scoters x 2 a welcome drop in on the 19th.
Most eyes at the moment however are on the wetlands of the site and there have been a selection of waders so far; highlights include
4 black tailed godwit SME on the 17th (pictured by Roy Vincent):
Dunlin on the 18th SME, 19th over D res, WNR 20th, 2 on the 23rd,
11 common sandpiper 19th D res wall, 6 on the 20th, 5 on the 22nd, 1 on the 23rd, 1 on the 27th, 01st, 2nd resepectively
Greenshank 19th Watton NR as photographed by Brian Colley here:
Greensandpiper 19th Watton NR, 1 on the 27th, 2 on the 29th, 3 on the 10th and 2 on the 2nd.
Whimbrel x 6 on the 19th, 3 on the 25th (picture by Andy Marshall)
Snipe SME on the 19th, 28th, with 7 on the 1st and 27 circling on the second. Photo by Brian Colley:
The marshes are being constantly drawn down at the moment to provide more feeding opportunities as new mud appears. For those with a membership the evenings seem to yield the best results for waders stopping off to roost at dusk, and would perhaps give the best chance of a spotted crake.
Unfortunately our breeding waders the little ringed plovers unfortunately failed this year. Despite caging the nest and subsequently 4 eggs being incubated for 4 weeks the young never materialised. No eggs or damage to the nest scrape suggests they hatched but were likely predated immediately. The gang here taking the cage out a month back:
blog who covers these elements in detail - including some of Tony McLean's clearwing photos.
If you've been to the reserve recently you may have seen the planning permission notices. This is part of the project for the new reception hide at the reserve. Many will know that the old centre has been in a state of decommisioning in recent months with the regretful absence of our displays and meeting room. The plan is to take the best elements of this and combine it with the sightings hut and the car park D res hide to give a new focal point for the reserve overlooking the reservoir.
All really exciting stuff in a project which has already been given the go ahead by Yorkshire Water who are funding it with Leeds based architects Chetwoods designing it. We're now awaiting the exact programme of funding to determine the build date which is influenced by the SSSI regulations - but it is hoped to be between 2015-17.
The planning permission is viewable on the ERYC planning portal here under reference 14/01979/PLF. But if you want to find out more on the project I'll be leading two drop in tours for anyone interested at 10am on both Sundays the 17th and 24th of August. I'll be taking people on a walk of the route, and will be glad to hear of any suggestions or improvements we can plan in at this stage.
A month or so back we posted advance notice of a series of boat trips along the river Hull in September as part of the Visit Hull and East Yorkshire Walking and Outdoors festival.
We should perhaps explain a little more on the concept of the boat tours as it could be mis-interpreted as a 'what next? pedalos on the res' moment. The idea stems from the strength of habitats that flank the river Hull - a series of excellent birding sites like Swinemoor, Figham, Noddle Hill, Leven and Arram Carrs, Leven Canal, Tophill, Struncheonhill, Emmotland and the upper tributaries and developing YWT reserves at Snakeholme and Skerne. All are disjointed and even distant by road (as anyone will know who has been chasing cranes between Leven and Arram Carrs recently!). The common corridor is the river that links this area together.
Ideally we'd embrace the river but alas in recent years it's been the source of most of the relatively infrequent anti-social incidents including numerous diesel thefts and the stripping of a contractors tractor cab during the Hempholme Meadows project with the cuplrits being seen fleeing by boat. Another is the speed of power boats and jet ski's dropped into the river and regulalry passing the reserve at 20mph+ with the erosion and habitat damage this causes. We hope that by nuturing and encouraging reputable users of the river we can sideline the 'wild west' elements.
We also want to encourage green travel as Tophill and all the other river Hull reserves are so remote it is a long car journey to reach them individually. As motoring costs more we see this as a way to sustainably get people to the reserve.
But most of all its a great wildlife experience and a chance to not only get a great perspective upon the habitats but also visit them all in a day. Hopefully by creating an awareness we can develop the idea into a 'pelagic' which wilst it may not offer manxies and storm petrels will yield harriers and kingfishers and serve to enhance the wider Hull Valley through identity and funding and protect it from insensitive developments.
Historically Tophill Low always was accessible by boat and the old inlet to Tophill Low Farm still exists which if the interest is there we hope to be able to resurrect as part of the wider reception hide above. It also provides opportunities for local businesses to support the concept of a 'living reserve' much like the cattle grazing.