Sunday, 31 January 2016

White out

January saw a brief interlude of cold from the general slide into spring:
The best that this could rustle up was a lone white fronted goose which turned up on the 4th and was still here at least to the 24th.  A small party of around 12 pink feet has also been with the feral greylags of Watton NR as has a single barnacle still here on the 17th. 

Wildfowl are still substantially pegged back by the unseasonable weather.  A small party of pintail with smart drake have been between Watton and D res, as has the drake scaup picked up on new year's day. But again we're now into breeding season and the 1st arrival of the year was the shelduck of the 16th - really all interest is gearing up for this now and it's looking promising.  Many of the main players are established and ready - barn owl is present (though looking for a friend), cetti's never went as per willow tit and marsh.  Marsh harriers have been present consistently all winter on the reserve this year so we're pretty optimistic on that front.  Last Thursday we noted that the sap had already risen in the sycamores with buds about to burst - massively early:
The river Hull as ever has damped out the heavy rain; the Wolds aquifer doing its usual slow release with consistently high but not threatening levels over January - perhaps a good example of the importance of decreasing run speeds on upper catchments unlike many places:

Unfortunately less so on the buzzard front - our white friend from Watton Carrs had to be put down last week.  Whilst doing very well and eating and flying the injury to its leg never healed up after several courses of anti-biotics and had infected the bone. 
As ever thanks very much to Jean Thorpe of Ryedale Wildlife Rehab whom did her best along with Battleflatts Veterinary practice at Stamford Bridge. 
Further details on her site - another Yorkshire Water Buzzard rescued from a sludge tank at Elvington by a colleague faired better and was subsequently released. 

Still plenty of buzzard activity and there are many with the similar white characteristics on the approach road an most welcome was a grey partridge record on the 17th.  Red kite have again put in a spring appearance on Watton - photo's by Tony McLean on the Flickr feed - whether this will come to anything other than a wandering is debatable as they seem to do this every year.  This character was on the pylons though the other day - peregrine:
Otherwise great avian predators include the dog otter of the O reservoir whom has been proven as an established bird eater in recent trail camera footage - pictures to follow...  Elsewhere North Marsh as ever seems to be a good place with a number of recent midday reports - Steve Brimble capturing some here:
And likewise this stoat with 'ermine ears' galloping about:
Their cousins the north American mink are however less welcome and the 7th and 8th of the winter were removed a couple of weeks back which is disheartening; but we have recently recruited some new allies - Matthew Arnold whom is keeper for the West Beck Preservation society has recently taken 12 of the mink rafts and traps for both this and other fishing clubs so we hope we can really get on top of the problem again.   

Martin has been putting the hours in on the gull roost as ever though the hopes for a white winger are becoming slim.  Perhaps the kumlien's gull at Barmston will drop in as it has done in previous winters.  That said a caspian gull on the 5th was a nice bird, and some good but telling numbers of southern European species - 13 little gull on the 3rd, med gulls regularly with a maxima of 5+ on the 3rd, and a yellow legged on the 5th.  Interestingly Erich Hediger got the return back from the med he photo'd on the O res wall on the 12/10/15 - turns out this was ringed as a chick in southern Poland on the Czech border at Wojcice Opolskie on the 13/06/15 - so gives us an idea of where our winter birds come from:
Otherwise much work continues on thinning, pollarding and replanting ready for the new reception hide project.  Abetted by the RSPB wildlife explorers - Margaret Boyd:

If you're interested in joining in then contact us on the usual address and we'll forward you to Margaret who runs the team - here's the next three sessions:

Saturday 20th February– 10am– 12pm  Living Seas Centre, South Landing         
“What a load of rubbish!”

Time to get busy...pick up a bag and fill it with litter to help clean the beach. This is a vital job to keep the local marine and land wildlife safe. Being creative we may be able to find a use for all that rubbish, if not then Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Inside we will find out more from the staff at the centre and get warm with refreshments for all the hard work. Parking charges apply. Meet outside the centre. Wrap up warm, wellies are a good idea.

Saturday 19th March - 10am – 12pm Top Hill Low
“Roll your sleeves up, wellies on, get ready for some hard work...”

As always, Richard has some work for us to do on the reserve. Hard physical work but worth it as our efforts really do contribute to helping manage the reserve for wildlife.  Refreshments when the work is done and a chance to see what is around the site. Admission charges apply, toilets open. Wrap up warm & wear gloves.

Saturday 16th April  – 10am – 12pm   Parish Wood, Filey
“If you go down to the woods today....”

Then out into the meadow and across the farmer’s field you’ll reach the cliffs frpm this great little reserve. Thinking all about different habitats and what they can provide our local wildlife in such a small area. The cliffs should be welcoming back some of our seabirds too. If we have time we can pop to Filey Dams too. Park on the residential road close to the reserves entrance. No facilities.

 Likewise another plug too for an upcoming talk by Andy Rouse in memory of notable local birder Mick Carroll:
Equally sad to hear of the recent passing of Martin Garner - both did a lot for conservation and birding particularly in our region. 

Next Tophill event is the reserve walk this Saturday the 6th at 10am - free with standard admission. 

Friday, 1 January 2016

New year's deluge

Our annual year listing event today - the lack of wintering birds due to the mild weather never promised a record breaker - but a good effort none the less and a respectable tally of 66 (*we said 65 originally but forgot to write in Teal) species in the day:

Starting from Angram Farm and scanning the fields along the Yorkshire Water approach Road;
1. Tree Sparrow
2. Chaffinch
3. Blackbird
4. Great Tit
5. Blue Tit
6. Robin
7. Feral Pigeon
8. Rook
9. Carrion Crow
10. Herring Gull
11. Great Black Backed Gull
12. Common Gull
13. Red legged Partridge
14. Woodpigeon
15. Moorhen in Barmston Drain
16. Pheasant
17. House Sparrow
18. Dunnock
Catching up with some of the regulars before starting we learnt of earlier;
19. Kestrel
20. Little Egret
21. Lapwing
22. Coal Tit
23. Goldcrest
24. Goldfinch
25. Great Spotted Woodpecker
26. Lesser Black Backed Gull
27. Willow Tit
28. Barn owl
Starting in the car park we had:
29. Fieldfare
30. Magpie
And into D res we had;
31. Great crested Grebe
32. Mallard
33. Coot
34. Pochard
35. Tufted Duck
36. Cormorant
37. Greylag
38. Gadwall
39. Wigeon
40. Buzzard
41. Black headed Gull
42. Shoveler
A trip north through D woods saw;
43. Jackdaw
44. Wren
45. Sparrowhawk
46. Water Rail
47. Song Thrush
Arriving at Hempholme Lock we had;
48. Little Grebe
49. Mute Swan
50. Long tailed Tit
51. Stock Dove
A return down the river Hull saw a nice bonus:
52. Lesser redpoll flock of 7 - photo by Dave Ware
53. Tree Creeper was found just before the car park
54. Collared Dove
After lunch around the lagoons were
55. Siskin
56. Starling over the Southern Marshes
57. With Pied Wagtail on them
At Watton NR
58. Curlew
59. Redshank
60. Snipe
61. Grey Heron
Back on the D reservoir courtesy of Martin was
62. Scaup
63. Mediterranean Gull
64. Yellow legged Gull
and finally Michael Preston had seen a
65. Kingfisher on North Marsh in the afternoon
*66. Teal

So a reasonable tally - not bad given no exciting smew etc. As ever there were an number of notable omissions that should or could have been seen;
Greenfinch - perhaps a sign of the times - do come to feeders erratically
Grey Partridge - likewise
Marsh Harrier - Didn't grace us today but ever present
Cetti's - likewise
Mistle Thrush - likewise
Tawny Owl - likewise
Goosander - likewise
Jack Snipe - in Hempholme undoubtedly but we didnt flush
Woodcock - none in the meadow or elsewhere - a 'drive' would have dislodged them
Spotted Redshank - reported 27th and presumably same lingerer.
Red Crested Pochard - absent today
Pintail - here on 29th
Whooper Swan - immature had moved off. 
Bittern - probably here somewhere but the ice hasn't encouraged it out. 
Short-eared owl - not far away and occasionally wandering onto Watton NR
Grey wagtail - often at the lock but some disturbance by time we had arrived

So a 'theoretical' 80 odd if all your stars aligned on a winter visit to Tophill

No significant geese flocks for exciting ones (even Canada!), and no tit flocks for a summer warbler sticking around.  And no hope for arctic white wing gulls in the roost - the three species present that should be in southern Europe were telling as anything.

Otherwise; otter, brown hare, roe deer and rabbit for those counting. 

A lot of fresh plant growth - and as one of our regulars said - just 10 weeks til the first Little Ringed Plover now. 

Otherwise since the last post:
Goosander, med gull nightly to a peak of 6 on the 31st, yellow legged gull regularly.

The flooding which affected many areas seems to have not affected Tophill particularly.  As ever the chalk aquifer damps the flows down of the river Hull - however it appears the boxing day rain in the upper reaches did cause a brief spate in the river - which our unfortunate trail camera which was merrily above the waters on the 23rd will testify:
Plenty of folk has worse than this to contend with though