Thursday, 15 October 2015

reeding between the lines

Whilst there are masses of birds coming in from the continent including plenty of exotic ones it is perhaps the more common that are providing the current spectacle.  Line up on the lines of Watton Carrs are the many starlings roosting on the South Marsh West at the moment:
We said earlier that we weren't going to mow the reedbed island this year and certainly the starlings appreciate it as a home.  Roy Vincent captured this magnificent film:
You may catch near the end one of two sparrowhawks present hoping to predate the birds (one being sat on the hide roof).  Water rails are vocal too as their peace and quiet is invaded.  Absent in this is the bittern which has been seen a couple of times in the last week; I have seen the bittern previously drop in beforehand - likely hoping to snaffle a starling as they are capable of eating sizeable birds and mammals like water voles.  A young male marsh harrier is also a near permanent fixture on South Marsh East at the moment regularly sat on a post at the back.   We cant get it right all the time as we recently mowed the islands of North Marsh to remove willows and rank vegetation (and open the areas lost to kingfishers and water voles again). However we had claims that the previously active water rails had abandoned the new more open vista.  Fortunately not long after Michael Flowers and his birdwatching group snapped these pictures of rails again active:
Michael's new 2016 East Yorkshire Wildlife calendars are out now and available in the Wardens base.  Likewise Tony Robinson:
Whilst migrant hawkers were still on the go today and two great white egrets were seen on Sunday morning there are plenty of autumnal scenes - woody nightshade berries glisten in the woods:
The prince - Tony Robinson:
And hay meadows disappearing (in this case to Standingholme meadows next door to Hempholme Meadow as green hay to seed and enrich some of JSR's stewardship fields:
Barred Sallow by Doug Fairweather equally seasonal:
And beaded chestnut:
Robin - perhaps one of the many migrants coming in by Tony Robinson:
And a polish ringed Mediterranean gull confidingly sat on O res wall - snapped and researched by Erich Hediger - more details here:
Otherwise other notable sightings have included geese; Amongst 670 greylags and 270 Canada's were a 1st winter tundra bean goose on Watton NR on Saturday 10th with two pink feet, A lone whooper swan on the 11th on D res, barnacle goose on the 12th.  All the above geese converged again on the 13th together when a further 55 pink feet went overhead.  Siskin have been present around the lagoons for a few days - Andy Marshall:

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Arrivals and departures

Saturday's reserve walk was perhaps the most telling example of the changing season.  Whilst the hedges still held good numbers of chiffchaff like below:
The same flock at the lagoons also held a sizable number of siskin also.  The weekend prior had shown a huge influx of blackcap on site with every elderberry bush holding birds on Friday afternoon.  The ringing team last weekend exceeded any prior count of blackcaps and interestingly of the 9 birds ringed all were juvenile birds - the adults all seemingly having already gone.  Amongst the undergrowth was this critter we're still taking suggestions on - crank up your speakers and let us know your thoughts as we're a bit stumped!  (bird was never seen).
Its the time of year for odd birds turning up amongst the passerines and in addition to a small number of jays we've also had a good report of a lesser spotted woodpecker at North Scrub.  The Beswick Hall belted galloways up there have done and dusted and now returned back to Hempholme.  They've done a grand job and have been tucking into hawthorns and willows:
Meanwhile the Easingwold mob have been bringing some stability to Watton Nature Reserve - Andy Marshall:
Causing havoc on the wider carr land however has been this joker.  The 'white buzzard o' Watton' nice to see again and an absence all summer lends weight to the argument that this is an Eastern bird that overwinters here annually - Pete Drury:
And yes - its already been reported as an osprey and a rough legged buzzard!  Couple of more standard birds - Roy Vincent:
Keeping on a pale theme we've had some good numbers of little egret on the now re-filling South Marsh East - Roy Vincent:
 And Tony Simpson:
We've also had a lot of reports of dragonfly catching on the marsh swiping migrant hawkers and ruddy darters in flight:
And on Hempholme - Darren Smith:
Sneaking into proceedings on Tuesday the 29th was this great white egret on Watton NR - pics by Melvyn and Ann Ridgers:
Otherwise most waders have done and dusted with just a single lingering green sandpiper which may well be here all winter - Roy Vincent. 
That said we found a pot of gold under this rainbow:
We were at a site meeting with Yorkshire Water colleagues looking at a boat survey of the D reservoir.  Many of my finest wildlife sightings have been in full high vis - if you want to see wildlife forget full real tree ghillie suits and lens camo! In all seriousness if you dress the same as a hunter wildlife comes nowhere near.  Dress as a workman and wildlife instantly knows you are not a threat.  This small wader landed under us on the steps - a bit of an ID conundrum at first as I'm familiar with sideways waders but not vertical!:
It turned out to be 'just' a dunlin - but perhaps the finest views I will ever have! These were all taken with my phone as it landed a little further away:
Before coming for a close in look:
 Getting so close I was unable to frame it in my mobile phone!
Great views of a bird I could literally have picked up.  The journey back turned this vicious beast up - yearling grass snake with typical attitude problem:
The lagoon is also on the way up:
Young moorhen making the most of it:
And likewise the two big names of winter on the res - common gull left and black headed gull right:
Two examples of many as decoy fields went under the plough:
Also attracting good numbers of lapwing (and starling!) along with their unwanted shadow the peregrine falcon:
Our little murmuration of starlings over the river Hull at North Lagoon - our roost hits around 3000 birds in mid autumn before the birds seem to head for bigger assemblages elsewhere:
On a similar vein it may not be Brighton Pier, but our volunteers have been beavering away and South Lagoon is now open for business again:
Apparently good views of kingfisher from here - though North Marsh likewise has been freshly cleared and opened out for views - Natalie Grantham:
Sparrowhawks still up to no good in the environs as this scene of crime shows:
Kestrels too active on the reserve - we seem to see more of them in winter too - Roy Vincent:
And likewise roe deer as the vegetation thins - Roy Vincent:
Darren Smith:
A less welcome mammal is the American mink.  We do see some seasonality in the species and an autumn dispersal seems an annual phenomenon.  A tentative go at trapping has knocked out 4 mink in 10 days suggesting as big a problem as last year.  If you look after any stretch of waterway in the Hull Catchment above Beverley we'd be only too pleased if you wanted to join our campaign with one of our mink rafts - just get in touch. 
That said otter active too:
Another sting in the tail of summer - queen hornet:
 Likewise Roy Vincent:
Wasp nest by David Hughes:
Our extension of summer has allowed continuing invertebrate interest - Eristalinus sepulchralis by Doug Fairweather:
 Spectacular eye detail:
Small coppers have been very thin on the ground this year - I've only seen one myself and perhaps just the one that Natalie Grantham got:
Second generation speckled wood by Natalie more common:
Copper underwing agg in the ringing hut a late one in pristine order rather than the tatty examples usually in the hides:
Otherwise red crested pochard multiplying on the D Reservoir - Roy Vincent:
 Now two drakes and a female RV:
 Little grebes RV:
 And the bill banded tufted duck was 'BZ3' when we got a closer view - back for a second winter
Autumn marches on however and fungi are the seasonal interest of present - lots of inkcaps about:
And a new one for the list - sticky bolete Boletus viscidus by Doug Fairweather:
And perhaps one we don't want? A rather meek looking ash tree we're investigating...