Saturday, 18 October 2014

A short change to winter

Last weekend saw the final exodus of summer birds around the reserve.  Around 50 swallow were over the southern site on the 10th with the final record of 4 'going south' on the 11th, combined with perhaps the final chiffchaff. 

Immediately following on the12th winter arrived with a jolt; flocks up to 150 pink footed geese heading over with the first 6 whooper swans on O res - Michael Flowers:
4 pintail had arrived on the 10th which join the ever present 5 red crested pochard on the D reservoir. There have been groups of 200 golden plover since the 9th.  Redwing have been present in small numbers in North and South Scrub - but perhaps the big highlight has been short eared owl found by Michael Flowers on the 14th over Hempholme Meadow - picture by Michael:
Resonance of the great winter of 11/12 when we had 3 birds all winter - certainly it s been a good year for barn owls with voles everywhere so it's shaping up well.  The Thursday gang are reasonably sure the bird was seen again on the 16th.  Incidentally we now have Michael's East Yorkshire Wildlife calendars in stock art the Warden's base at £8 a time - more details as ever on his blog.  Enjoying a vole bounty too were the kestrels which are active at the minute - Steve Brimble:
And stoat - Chris Bell:
Water voles are very active on North Pond and giving confiding views if you have never encountered one - Steve Brimble:
And Michael Flowers:
Also swimming about water rail on North Marsh by Steve Hines - up to 3 in the week on South Marsh West:
Just loitering are jays which are still giving intermittent sightings across the reserve and green woodpecker again made a visit last weekend on the southern site.  A late or wintering green sandpiper was the tale end of the waders although large numbers of snipe were still being dislodged from South Marsh East on Thursday morning.  There are some big flocks of tits about at the moment - long tailed's by Michael Flowers:
 And Chris Bell - more pictures on his site here:
If you are lucky blackcap has been amongst them though goldcrest are an easier find - Michael Flowers:
 Chris Bell:
The two young marsh harriers still continue to frequent the area - Steve Brimble:
And ever present Buzzard - Steve Brimble:
And kingfishers are making good of the mild conditions to give a continued shows on North Marsh; The first frosts will see them off 'til June so be quick Steve Brimble:
Resident dog otter - looks like 'one eye' by Bruce Pillinger on North Marsh - a mother and cub were reported showing well in Hempholme Lock on Thursday last:
Roe deer in the mist- Chris Bell:
We've been doing a lot of work on North Marsh as part of our ongoing Higher Level Stewardship work.  The aims are multiple with routes for the new stock fence being cleared along with scrub removal from the grassland and marshes; with the end result being to reclaim the established line of pollards - these older trees have been pollarded many times by successive wardens and volunteers and its our turn to have a go.
Traditionally they would have been cut at height to prevent stock from browsing new growth out and the whippy regrowth used at various stages for stock feed, basket weaving and hurdles.  The resultant dense re growth is brilliant for warblers and an array of fungi - this green elfcup being a cracking species on one. 
For more info on fungi and hornets check out both Africa's and Guillermo's excellent blogs, pictures and artwork.  We have practical gangs that venture out three days a week with spaces on Fridays and Sundays for more so if you fancy some fresh (smokey) air, excercise and good banter just get in touch.  Lukas and Mike crossing the north marsh to manage willow on islands used by bittern and harriers:
Dragging back:
To the processing yard - Good fun as ever from a great team.:
We're not quite sure on the fate of this legless common gull by Brian Colley - fishing line being the main suspect:
Med gull and lesser black backed's being present on barmy October evenings so far - Steve Hines:

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Jack out the box

This weekend saw a firm change in the year.  Hobby are generally quite showy in late September and this year was no exception, neither is the traditional last date which is usually within a couple of days of the 30th of September.  Most hirundines and warblers are gone though 2 chiffchaff were singing on the 28th, with one of the last willow warblers - Brian Colley:
Even if the warblers have gone there are still a few migrant hawkers:
The last common tern was logged by Martin on the 21st - who has also migrated south in the annual pilgrimage to Sagres in Portugal; expect some great raptor reports on his return.  We'll settle for a red kite down in the valley however - Brian Colley:
With the more familiar common buzzard:
And ketsrels:
A couple of peregrines this aft, with marsh harrier daily - and plenty of sparrowhawks about - if not seen then crime scene:
The probable highlight; osprey excepted on Tuesday and Thursday - was jack snipe.  Volunteer Pete Drury spotted this one under the SME hide last Thursday:
Snapped too by Roy Vincent - exceptional views of a secretive bird:
One was flushed from Hempholme Meadow during management work last Saturday - along with 5 snipe; part of a wider and continued flock still on SME - 28 yesterday.  A single ruff was a straggler on the 24th.  Even if the exotic waders have moved through the little egrets are still finding the marsh frogs a tasty morsel - Roy Vincent:
 And Darren Smith:
Noticeable today were big movements of wildfowl; a couple of red crested pochard are still about with two on D res today, with 5 pintail on Thursday.  This Scaup was on SMW last week by Brian Colley:
Shoveler now moving to the reservoir:
As the light fades the gulls are moving in; a white crust described on O res this aft - Pics by Brian Colley of D res in the week:
On most observations the Mediterranean gull can be found amongst them but take some picking out - nearly as much as these characters - Brain Colley:
Also undertaking management have been the volunteers - we're currently working on North Scrub clearing routes for the new fence line this autumn for further conservation grazing.  The idea is to control invasive hawthorn and willow before it completely smothers the grassland:
Nothing like a good fire; South Scrub after a warm September is barely recognisable from a couple of postings back - regrowth of all grasses minus thatch:
A bit of water parsnip planting - another 30 plants into South Marsh West - Mike in the mud:
Elsewhere otter seen on North Marsh yesterday - and some cracking fungi about at present.  If you are thinking of enjoying them please sample them photographically only.  As has recently been relayed in the popular media there have been a lot of cases of fungi poisoning of late - and perhaps worse is the loss of interesting species that could be enjoyed by others around the reserve - such as the loss of the prince last week... details here.