Sunday, 21 September 2014

Watton - no road?

Worth bearing in mind this week that the road to Tophill will be closed every week day for widening - the reserve is still accessible but you need to take the road from Cranswick (off the main road near the farm shop and over the railway crossing past the Spar shop).  A pleasant enough run which is good for little egret and if you're lucky little owl:
Long journeys abound as outgoing have been many summer migrants.  Reed warbler was still singing on South Marsh West on Thursday and a young cuckoo was seen at North Marsh yesterday.  Already moving were three grey plover which is a good record for Tophill yesterday along with many finches and pipits through the week.   

Just moving about are jays - three seen on North Scrub with ten magpies on North Marsh yesterday.  Common scoter strayed inland in the mists yesterday with these four found by Martin on O res:

Despite a murky and dismal day the results were very impressive with a muggy and close night for the time of year giving excellent moth trap results with three site firsts.  No doubt an update to follow on Martin's blog.  Perhaps too of Caspian gull which was present on D, along with the usual Mediterranean.  Four ruff were present on South Marsh East where green and common sandpiper still persist with lesser numbers of snipe.

Perhaps bird of the moment is hobby - as usual good numbers in September predating migrant hawkers and yielding some nice views of late; expect them for the next 9 days on previous form.  Lots of marsh harriers also moving through the site at present.

A chill of winter in the air though as the first brambling was logged over the car park, and the first 7 pink footed geese of winter were on Watton on Tuesday.

Elusive and skulking were not the water rail but the belted galloways; two new bullocks outwitted two of our of volunteers stockman for several hours in South Scrub on Friday!

Lots of good work as ever - here managing willow encroachment on reed beds at the back of South Marsh West to benefit greater water parsnip and reed bed bird species:

Monday, 15 September 2014

Sloe progress

The weekend at Tophill saw a noticeable change.  Gone had the yellow wagtails of  the access road, and instead had arrived the wildfowl with Martin reporting pintail and the first whistles of wigeon on the D reservoir could be heard - wintry indeed. 

Lots of hobby sightings as ever at this time of year.  Today is an auspicious date; but six years on just a kestrel to be seen...
Marsh harriers have been plentiful but perhaps the most impressive spectacle has been the variety of passerines on the move.  A lot more finches, with the blackthorn thicket at the top of D reservoir one of the favourite places.  A sighting of 5 greenfinches is not so common nowadays - but a spotted flycatcher is a fine thing indeed - especially too as yesterday - photo's John Pickering:
This juv was about today:
But countless chiffchaffs:
Willow warblers:
And blackcaps - all heading south:
Still a few waders in the offing with 40odd snipe earlier in the week, greenhank, green sandpiper and common sandpipers still on the walls:
Also heading south are the belted galloways - this group are leaving us to be weaned back at Beswick and instead two young steers will be joining us most likely tomorrow in South Scrub:
And finally if anyone fancies an excellent offer on the last of this years boat trips from Beverley there'll be vessels available this Saturday the 20th priced at £30 for a 3 man boat, a 4 man for £40 or a 6 man for £60 - so £10 a head.  For more information and bookings on what looks to be a good forecast ring Beverley Boat Hire on 07726 491430.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Fire and Brimstone

It's the end of summer - reflected in the wildlife and the work on the reserve.  Photo Pete McKenzie:
A big annual job is cutting the meadows to ensure next year's crop of orchids comes through.  Much has been done both by volunteers and contractors in recent days:
Another technique we use is the slash and burn, the idea being to removed thatch and organic material from the soil - taking it back to bare earth and removing competition for the more delicate species.  Lukas starts the blaze:
We have also burnt the island on SMW - we alternate each side annually and it results in very nice clean reed bed in which we found the abandoned nests of two reed warbler and a water rail:
Water rails have been quite active around the reserve - this individual delighted those on Saturday's reserve walk - picture by Bill Eggleton:
Something a little different; rail on a rail by Darren Smith:
The spotted crake did not linger - but we've been amazed by the vast numbers of common snipe - 46 last Tuesday and reports of 72 later in the week and 60 yesterday on South Marsh East.  Airborne by
Roy Vincent:
Brian Colley:
And Alan Walkington:
Otherwise an excellent 10+ green sandpiper were the peak since the last post with 10+ common sandpiper, and 4 ruff on the 3rd.  Greens by Roy Vincent:
Brian Colley:
A ringed plover and little ringed plover were both present in the last week of August, up to 2 greenshank and up to three garganey.  All were not best pleased with this young male marsh harrier which has been harrying the marshes of late; Roy Vincent:
And Andy Marshall:
Up to three in the week with many migrating over as per Martin's blog with spotted flycatcher details - a nice sighting although tinged with sadness its only on migration.  Also predating the marsh was little egret at point blank range - Francis Bell:
And Bill Eggleton:
Who also snapped this stoat:
And attentive Sparrowhawk:
Along with this kingfisher - specialising in catching marsh frog tadpoles from the electric fence - Brian Colley:
Adult marsh frog - the tadpoles take much longer to develop than the conventional native - Brian Colley:
Fodder for young little grebes too:
The familiar few were present on the North Marsh - Maurice Dowson:
And Roy Vincent:
Otters have been showing too in the last few days - both for Steve Brimble:
Good news is that we have managed to remove two mink in as many weeks - unfortunately not this second male we believe that was photographed by Brian Colley along with the one in the last post:
Roe deer by Pete Drury:
And a bat sp. by Brian Colley:
Med gull and yellow legged gull have been on the res's in recent days with many great crested grebes giving excellent photo ops on the O reservoir.  Barnacle goose has been a welcome spice in amongst the feral greylag flock that has now conglomerated, and up to six red crested pochard have been about for two weeks - though likely of equal provenance.  Lots of cuckoos around too before the second brood head south - Brian Colley:
Several hobby predating dragonflies on North Marsh - and a young common buzzard Steve Brimble:
Star of stage and screen - barn owls - in case you didn't see the Look North piece.  The headline is that the North Marsh pair have reared 9 young this year - the highest amount in a year and also the first time for two broods - Roy Vincent:
All thanks to these fella's - bank voles under the feeders - Brian Colley.
Common buzzard after bigger fayre - lots of rabbits with myxy at the moment giving easy meals - Pete Drury:
And Steve Brimble:
Also on the access road have been up to 36 yellow wagtails going south, along with meadow pipits, white wagtail and linnet.  Another yellow migrant - clouded yellow by Maurice Dowson:
The last of 5 common tern chicks to fledge went last week - Eddie Laker: