Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Swags in the phrag

As per the last post really - we're still looking to the reed beds for the main interest at the moment.  The great white egrets are the star birds of the moment with two going to roost at the side of the south marsh west last week.  Sightings are somewhat erratic during day time - Brian Colley picked up a bird in Barmston Drain at Hempholme Lock last week:
Whilst it was on South Marsh East at the beginning of last week we think most of their time is spent either on the surrounding drainage network or the scrapes and fish refuges along the river Hull berm.  The berm is a very good habitat which houses some of our best reed beds - indeed for the bittern which continues to be present erratically too it is our best chance for a breeding one.  However left to its own devices the reed beds will be lost to willow again so we've been doing a bit of work with Yorkshire Water colleagues to cut the regrowth from the EA clearance 4 winters back:
Far better than being in an office and helping biodiversity and flood risk downstream in Hull at the same time:
Well managed reed beds in addition to cuckoos, reed bunting, reed warbler, sedge warbler and cetti's are also potentially home to enigmatic birds like the bearded tit.  One would think this a bit of pipe dream - but we've just had another 6 birds sighted last week by Paul Mountain.  This is similar to the number we had back in spring on south marsh west - so keep your eye out for a potential wintering flock which we hope can be persuaded to stay. 

But as always nothing's clear cut in nature and the habitats we make are always the best mix of compromises in many cases.  Willows are a useful resource for many species and when kept in check are a welcome asset.  One example was found on north marsh when the willows were being cleared to keep the kingfisher vistas open.  Lukas uncovered this wholesome looking grub gnawing its way through a stump - after being photographed and returned by Pete, Barry Warrington suspected this could be a lunar hornet clearwing larvae: 
Our resident clearwing gurus Doug and Martin along with ourselves cutting willows have been seeing exit holes in goat willow stumps for many years but no moth has ever been seen (they don't come to light and don't respond to pheromone lures).  As such Doug collated the evidence and sent it over to Charlie Fletcher at Yorkshire Butterfly Conservation whom gave it the thumbs up as a new species for the reserve via a collaborative effort on ID.  It'll still be nice to see an adult though...

Equally interesting and puzzling - one of our long tailed tits ringed by the team in summer was caught at Flamborough Bird Observatory three weeks back.  I'm not really sure of the logic to this direction when everything else is going the other way but interesting none the less.  Catching season for moths is pretty tail endish now - with clues in the name of Doug's latest efforts - December moth:
And feathered thorn:
Helvella crispa a smart fungi and likewise a season closing for most species apart from the somewhat 'wooden' remnants left:
Cetti's warbler has been unusually vocal given the generally dismal weather and holds promise for
next year in a similar manner to the pair of marsh harriers somewhat resident on the southern marshes.  Even food passing last week which seems a bit premature.

Otherwise the starling roost continues with otter being seen last Sunday - so sunsets on South Marsh West seem to be the pick experience of the moment.  Otherwise the barnacle, pink feet and bean goose seem to be still in the greylag/Canada flock but tricky as groups move in and out.  Drake pintail was a smart addition on Watton on Sunday and of higher provenance than the now 5 red crested pochard on D res constantly.  Small numbers of goldeneye, redwing, fieldfare and curlew building.  A late green sandpiper last week as written up on Steve Routledge's blog, along with merlin and peregrine and perhaps Erich's short eared owl a stone's throw from the reserve at Leven Carrs will give us a whirl as well this winter...