Friday, 5 May 2017

A matter of taste

It's been a few days since the last blog posting so thought we'd better have a quick update...
Star of the show and admired by many has undoubtedly been... the cracking grey plover in full breeding plumage here over the weekend.  Certainly in the opinion of the author at any rate given its a comparatively rare species for site and a personal reserve tick.  May sees the spring passage for waders moving north, often very rapidly so its not often we are treated to such showstoppers - Pictures Roy Vincent:
But taste is a personal thing.  Others took great delight in Monday's drop in brent goose - also a rare occurrence with the last confirmed bird 9 years ago.  A brief visit graced us on D reservoir - Roy Vincent:
And certain gull connoisseurs find great pleasure in today's courting pair of Mediterranean gulls - Karen Williams. 
And up to 240 black headed gulls at a time on the marshes at present - Maurice Dowson:
But breeding bird wise these have got to be up there - sand martins exploring the wall by Francis Bell:
We've yet to have a successful breeding attempt in this wall despite being a well researched design based upon many other successful walls.  Given my prowess I was somewhat dubious about being called in to oversee constructing a duplicate to the same specification three years back, up at Gouthwaite Reservoir in the Dales.  Suffice to say that has been near full annually since.  We put it down to general bird finickiness.  Some walls don't go so well; some do.  One of our more rapidly successful attempts was the kingfisher wall built back in January - and home to what in reality is the biggest crowd pleaser on site - Bill Eggleton:
There's undoubtedly thousands of pictures of these showy birds present at Hempholme Meadow at the northern end of the reserve.  Now that the chicks have hatched we feel a lot better admitting their presence. Don Davis:
Steve Smith:
Mark Holmes - apparently a nice pike here:

We've had salmonids, rudd and today a flat fish brought in as offerings.  The suggestion is that the chicks hatched around the 24th of April.  According to the stats this would suggest that the emergence date will be approximately the 18th / 19th of May - feel free to organise sweep stake as to exactly when the ceremonial assemblage will occur on the stick.  Please be courteous when viewing and photographing the birds and allow others a chance to view.

Its likely the first brood will decamp to north marsh as is tradition, followed by a strong likelihood of a second brood so we'll have this all over again!  We'll put the caveat on though that remember they are wild and subject to the rules of the wild - we'll not count our chicks just yet as there some shady characters about - egg rustling stoat - Bill Eggleton:
And egg rustling fox - Don Davis:
The woodland herons are a bit more of an enigma in their breeding.  Still ferrying sticks about we reckon there are 2 maybe more nests in this burgeoning colony - but we can't see in the tree tops - Don Davis:
Unfortunately not breeding in the reserve - but undoubtedly raiding it frequently are the marsh harriers - Brian Colley:
 Maurice Dowson:
We've been asked many times why the harriers haven't returned after their 2013 success.  The answer is a simple one; that spring was a terrible one (which incidentally put paid to the last sand martin breeding attempt) and as such the oilseed rape crops were stunted and barely out the ground by late April.  This year they were flowering at the beginning of April - its a perfect habitat for them and a great substitute reed bed. 

Undoubtedly appreciating the better weather rather than the snow last April are the little ringed plovers - currently scrapping it out in pint sized fashion on the southern marshes - Francis Bell:
 Martin Hodges:
And good numbers of common terns through - Karen Williams:
Hopefully a better year for breeding than last.  However an early dip was achieving the distinction of being the only water body in East Yorkshire to not bag a black tern last weekend.  Time yet...

Some other nice birds we did get included wood sandpiper and a smart little gull - Roy Vincent:
Otherwise a good array of the usual arrivals - easiest is to transcribe the list compiled on the facebook page:

Wood Sandpiper May 1st
Swift May 1st
Whimbrel April 30th...
Greenshank April 30th
Cuckoo April 30th (now 3 - 4 calling males on site)
Arctic Tern April 29th
Garden Warbler April 23rd.
Common Tern April 23rd
Grasshopper Warbler April 20th
Whitethroat April 19th
Reed Warbler April 15th
Sedge Warbler April - Martin Hodges:

 Lesser Whitethroat April 10th
Common Sandpiper April 10th - Roy Vincent

 House Martin April 10th
Wheatear April 10th
Yellow Wagtail April 9th 

Garganey April 2nd
Swallow April 1st
Willow Warbler March 30th
Blackcap March 30th
Little Ringed Plover - March 24th
Osprey - March 21st
Sand Martin - March 17th
Green sadnpiper - Bill Eggleton:
Other resident breeders doing well - grey wagtail gathering up food on D res wall:
And barn owls sat on the nest at present - Maurice Dowson:
Carol Toohie:
Nice to see this ugly duckling too - this rather scruffy little egret was re-habilitated last year after being found exhausted over the river and nursed back to health by staff at Peel Veterinary clinic Hornsea.  The ringing team happened to be present at the time so it was tagged and released - though never really looked too good for the following month until it disappeared:
A year later and this smart beast has reappeared - Martin Hodges:
It can't be fully read as yet - but certainly many digits match of those seen on the ring which is on the correct leg so it is more than likely the bird survived and has returned to the reserve.  They just need to get breeding in that heronry now...
This is as much as I have time to undertake at the moment - as ever there's so much to see, record and photograph at this time of year.  Lots more info on the blog, facebook and flickr - but far better get yourself out and find it for yourself!